Come drink with us forever and ever and ever

Left: Hedge Maze. Right: Overlook.

At any given moment The Shining is in my top three favorite movies (and jostling for first place). VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, 35mm (both whole and also slashed to hell from decades of projectionists slicing frames out of iconic scenes for their collection or enrichment), forwards and backwards, de/reconstructed in Room 237, aped in countless examples of pop culture: I have watched it whenever, wherever, and however possible.

When this great cinematic love meets my love of imbibing, I’m as happy as a guest at an Overlook Hotel party.

“Great party, isn’t it?”

As San Francisco celebrates hosting the Kubrick Exhibition, I’ve tracked down a few places offering Shining-themed cocktails.

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Nuggets of wisdom

Gems I took away from the barstaff at The Miranda, which just soft-launched in Oakland:

  • A pinch of salt or dash of saline isn’t just useful in negronis and other stirred cocktails; try it in daiquiris and gimlets too.
  • St. George’s Rye gin is great in stirred drinks. Conversely, why use a fine flavorful gin in a sour where it could get lost?
The reason I made a beeline for The Miranda. The Room 237: Gancia Americano, Cocchi Americano, lemon, Agricanto, sparkling rose wine. The room 237 keychain is my own (a beloved tchotchke from Borderland Books).

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From Eeyore’s Requiem to the Hundred Acre Failure

This is not an Eeyore’s Requiem; this is alcoholic orange soda.

A photocopy of a photocopy. A jpeg resaved so often it loses all form. This is what I did to the noble Eeyore’s Requiem.

A friend reminded me of this delicious this bitter drink, and Serious Eats informed me of its noble pedigree: this is a Violet Hour original. (Love the Violet Hour. Love Serious Eats, for that matter.)

My friend said he’d held off making this until he found Dolin Blanc, which struck me as slightly odd since he isn’t the type to fear substitutions. Me, I fear few substitutions. And with supplies of Campari and Cynar running low, I thought I’d play with substitutions until I got a drink I no longer loved.

Theory: 5 or more iterations until undrinkability was reached.
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Themed cocktails at the Rickshaw Stop

Creativity isn’t limited to the contents of a glass.The Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco ennobles its relatively basic bar with thematic cocktail specials at its events.

For instance, Reeve Carney’s solo show boasted a Dorian Grey cocktail.


Grey Goose vodka, orange juice, 7-Up, and cranberry juice is not my usual tipple but the Rickhouse had keenly intuited which of Carney’s roles brought me there that evening. It’s clever bar marketing that acknowledges the artist, gives in-the-know audience members a little wink, and highlights available drinks beyond your average venue choices.

Themed cocktails are everything.

The Martini Mystery: What’s the secret message in Shaken Not Stirred?


I cannot guess the size of the Venn Diagram overlap of cocktail enthusiasts and codebreakers, but it’s safe to say it includes alcohol historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller.

One evening (it could have been afternoon) I was enjoying a drink (or two) at Comstock (that part is beyond dispute). In conversation with bartender Zach, I mentioned attending a talk that Jared Brown had given at Cafe du Nord in his capacity as a distiller of Sipsmith Gin.

“He’s stopped in here before, and he left a message in one of our books,” said Zach (who may have said something entirely different, but this is the gist). “Want to see it?”

I did!

Brown signed Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini (one of many books Comstock keeps handy at the bar) and left a breadcrumb:


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What’s the oddest garnish you’ve seen?

Whether present for flavor or looks (usually both), the humble garnish works hard to differentiate your drink.

Differing schools of thought rule the citrus peel. Many a mixologist has expressed a peel over my drink. But what happens next differs. Some drop the peel into the drink. Some circle the rim with the peel first. Others believe that rubbing the peel on the stem of the glass is the proper next step, as it leaves warm citrus notes on the drinker’s hand and adds to the nose of the drink.

I’ll update as I receive more interesting examples. Comments about your oddest garnishes are welcome!

Old-Fashioned Menus

The Old Fashioned is a contentious drink. Few others (and I say that with the certainty of someone who has done no research) have such distinct geographic divisions.

Not every article on the history of the Old Fashioned acknowledges this, so I refuse to link to a single one that didn’t do their homework on the northern Midwestern niche of Wisconsin’s brandy Old Fashioneds. Slate, though, did do some pretty great homework on the topic.

As have millions of salt-of-the-earth brandy drinkers:

Having reached the age of my majority in this little pocket of reality where Korbel is king, my interest is piqued by variations on the Old Fashioned. Here are some menus I’ve encountered:


 Old Fashioned menu at Melrose Umbrella Company, Los Angeles, CA, 2016.

Above: Old Fashioneds on tap at Branchline in Emeryville, CA, 2015.
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We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn’t we?


We here at Coupe Tales will acknowledge a certain cocktail snobbery, yes, but let it never be said that our eyes didn’t transform into little anime heart shapes when we got a glimpse of a good theme menu.

Like this heaven-sent glory at the Kurt Russell Deep Cuts art show at Public Works SF.

Look at that! Four Kurt Russell-themed drinks at a reasonable (for San Francisco) $10 each. Pictured is my Escape the Snake cocktail with Espolon Reposado tequila, ginger beer, and lime, which I thoroughly enjoyed while basking in the artistic interpretations of John Carpenter movies around me.

A good theme ennobles a drink, no matter what its ingredients may be.

A Sacred Undertaking

Sacred Gin (and more) handsomely arrayed at Whitechapel for Sacred’s tasting and event. A wonderful night of rare flavors.

Above all, your humble narrator loves gin.

Sacred Gin hit my radar in London a few years ago, where the excellent history Gin Glorious Gin: How Mother’s Ruin Became the Spirit of London upended my itinerary and sent me instead in search of Sacred Gin at Gerry’s and cocktails at Artesian, Nightjar, and Callooh Callay.

Nestled in my checked luggage, a bottle of Sacred’s London Dry survived the return voyage to California where it now holds a place of honor among my bottles. American markets don’t offer the London Dry so cocktails made from it are few and far between in my home.

Therefore, Sacred’s event at renowned gin palace Whitechapel required a pilgrimage.

The Cardamom G&T using Sacred’s Cardamom Gin

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