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.
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 →
Please send airfare. I’m firing up Kayak.com right now to balance the cost of a San Fransisco/D.C./Twin Cities jaunt against my burning need to experience these menus.
San Francisco: Drink your art with Trick Dog’s mural project
Trick Dog‘s blisteringly creative menus are among the very best the industry has to offer (a curious juxtaposition with its aesthetically cold echo chamber of a space, surely one of the least comfortable the industry has to offer).
Their current menu debuted January 8. Drinks are based on Bay Area local artists, each of whom created a mural in San Francisco for the project. The hard-copy menu at Trick Dog seems to be a printed book of photos, the sale of which benefits non-profits, so you can have your art and drink it, too.
The above mural by Sirron Norris (a friend of a friend of Coupe Tales, though we’ve never met) accompanies his namesake cocktail: Calle 23 blanco tequila, Cardamaro, fig, chamomile, cinnamon, and lime.
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.
As San Francisco celebrates hosting the Kubrick Exhibition, I’ve tracked down a few places offering Shining-themed cocktails.
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.
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.
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.