Aquafaba has been pinging cocktail radars for years now, but I still don’t see it on as many cocktail menus as I’d forecasted.
Seriously, what’s not to love? It’s less perishable than egg whites, avoids the unpleasant smell of egg whites, suits vegan cocktails, has savory and sweet applications, and its byproduct is (practically) delicious hummus.
Dirty Habit SF uses aquafaba to create a foam sturdy enough to hold a charcoal garnish.
The last time Time Out handed out Bar Awards, I discovered a life-changing spritzer that shook up my opinions of that category.
This year Time Out’s local event focused on dear old San Francisco and the ways in which its cocktail scene deserves a round of applause. And we’ve earned it — not least for our historical contributions to the modern state of craft cocktails. Need context for San Francisco’s influence, alongside New York and London, in reviving and evolving our drinking landscape? Check out Robert Simonson’s excellent book A Proper Drink.
So San Francisco is historically innovative. But what about today? I headed to the Time Out San Francisco Bar Awards to learn who won the prize for “Most Creative Bar Menu” and find out how that honor breaks down in terms of inspiration and perspiration.
Plan an agave-soaked celebration without a single drop of tequila
(Originally published on UpOut SF May 2, 2017. I’ve previously shared bonus information and additional recommendations right this way.)
Did you know that San Francisco is instrumental in defending agave sustainability so future generations can enjoy the plentiful agave beverages we enjoy today? For a city whose drinking history is soaked in pisco, whiskey, and beer, San Francisco certainly claims above-average agave expertise.
If you’re interested in breaking tequila traditions without sacrificing agave indulgence, our list honors cocktails made with mezcal, sotol, bacanora, and raicilla.
Go for the Coco Puff-infused Breakfast Negroni decorated with orange peel stars and birds; stay for the Chi Wa Wa cocktail with Por Siempre sotol, La Gitana Manzanilla sherry, Plantation Pineapple Rum, lemon, honey, and housemade “spicy monk mix.”
In the mood for a sotol taste test showdown? El Jolgorio Sotol is on the spirits list.
The low-ABV trend stirs nothing more in me than polite disinterest. Brunchtime day drinking elicits a shrug. Frankly, I thought no spritz could move me. But at Time Out’s Bar Awards Finale at the Chapel in San Francisco, I found the lesson I needed to make me a spritz believer.
Writing about Los Angeles’ Walker Inn has been, since this blog began, both an imperative and an impossibility.
The Koreatown bar’s menus, themes, and approach to cocktails are of history-making importance in West Coast drinking. (As far as this amateur is concerned, they are California’s Aviary. Let more knowledgeable drinkers dispute that.) Writing about the Walker Inn, like drinking there, is obligatory.
But my three visits differed so wildly that I abandoned my unfinished story every time. What I loved about my first time at that unique bar was miles away from what mattered on the third visit.
Recently, Walker Inn staff themselves provided the key to finishing this story. Their “Bar Indepth: The Walker Inn, USA” seminar at Tales of the Cocktail laid out details from architectural design to lab equipment to income. Missing pieces fell into place as they explained the service evolution that allows them to serve more cocktails to the ideal number of drinkers at a pace that shows off their carefully planned menu and exquisite presentation.
In return, I know what the consumer gains and loses in this service evolution.
It turns out that the story I wanted to write — the loving paean to the place that gave me my benchmark for superlative hospitality — is an ode to a place that no longer exists. The Walker Inn still exemplifies theme, scientific creativity, and spectacle like nowhere else west of the Mississippi, and my admiration is largely unchanged.
Thanks to UpOut for the opportunity to write about agave drinks beyond tequila margaritas. While I love margaritas, San Francisco and the East Bay are doing too many interesting things with sotol, bacanora, and raicilla to ignore.
San Francisco’s New Mission Drafthouse cinema serves pretty great cocktails both in the theater and in their attached bar, Bear vs Bull. During a recent showing of 2005’s Pride and Prejudice the following cocktail menu was available: Continue reading →
It’s a week of announcements! Hard on the heels of Tales of the Cocktail’s agenda reveal comes the list of 2017 James Beard Award finalists, which includes these notable local cocktail bars and bartenders:
Outstanding Bar Program
(Bar Agricole helped drive ethical cocktail sourcing. You can’t get a Campari drink at the bar, but you can get an amaro made from known ingredients that could be tracked from harvest to bottle.)
Book Award: Beverage Category
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki, Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate
(I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t take the award. It’s a beautiful tome, a friendly look at a niche category, and the photography of over-the-top decorated tiki drinks grabs the attention more than your average cocktail book. My copy is, of course, signed by Martin and Rebecca.)
Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional
Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA
(St. George is a font of local excellence and sass. Their Terroir is my ne plus ultra of gin.)
The problem with mixology classes aimed at civilians is the proliferation of Cocktail 101-level information. Fortunately, the demand for ongoing education and the area’s niche expertise appear to be forcing the evolution of local classes. Options are definitely improving for scholarly cocktail enthusiasts.
Plan your cocktail education with these upcoming opportunities:
Make Your Own Bitters workshop at the Oaktown Spice Shop
Oakland, March 14, $30
Coupe Tales expects to be in attendance. Oaktown Spice Shop has long been cocktail friendly; they offer a kit to make your own tonic syrup.
Artisan Foraged Cocktails Class from ForageSF Oakland, March 19th, April 2nd and April 16th, $75
I have attended one of these before and very much enjoyed the lecture on my own local ecosystem and incorporating wild flavors into my cocktails. I went home with locally-driven, handcrafted bitters that I still use to this day.
Cocktail class series at Two Sisters Bar & Books
Hayes Valley, SF, March 13 (gin), April 3 (springtime mixology), May 1 (tequila and mezcal), $85
Two Sisters doesn’t wear its bookish charm skin-deep (unlike Novela): it walks the walk with a regular book club. While my experience with Two Sisters tells me its cocktail classes will be thoughtful deep-dives, which hopefully helps justify the steep price tag.
Of note is that Two Sisters has announced it is closing this summer. These classes are the last ones you’ll be able to attend there. Continue reading →