Bartender "JaNiece" mixing things up at Alembic
Since I'm becoming increasingly adventurous and passionate about beverages, you better believe that during my June weekender in San Francisco that I did my share of R&D into their assorted liquid libations, especially given all the tales I've heard of their vibrant cocktail culture that pushes the envelope in every direction possible.
And I'm happy to report that San Francisco pretty much delivered on its potable promises, let's take a stroll through some of my favorite Nor. Cal. sips shall we?
Strawberry Alarm Clock at Alembic Bar - vermouth-soaked strawberries pureed up and mixed with malt whiskey, finished with a dash of tabasco and a few drops of parsley-peppermint oil; or as I call it, a party for your palate. From the pretty looks to its complex aromas (a mix of herbacious and fruity that reminds me of a summer salad laced with berries) and a festive mouthfeel and flavors, esp. with the heat-induced tingliness from the hot sauce. I wouldn't mind waking up to this every day!
Monk Buck at Heaven's Dog - made with 8 y/o Armagnac, yellow Chartreuse, organic ginger, lemon, soda; essentially a lemonade kicked up a notch with ginger and booze -- I'm usually skeptical of Chartreusey cocktails (whose herbal notes have a tendency to overwhelm the drink) but here it made the drink a little more intriguing and sophisticated--and totally cool, refreshing and perfect for lunch and brunch. Can't wait for this to join the regular cast of mimosas, bellinis and bloody marys as a daytime drink.
Ambajador at Bourbon & Branch (no pic of cocktail since photos aren't allowed at this by-reservations-only speakeasy, exterior pic courtesy of Caroline on Crack) - "recommended" by our saucy, tattooed, unnaturally crimson-haired and somewhat surly temptress of a server who told me, "No - this is what you want!" after I meekly tried to order something else. With kaffir lime-infused tequila, passionfruit nectar, lemon, foamed egg white and a dash of cinnamon - this, like the alarm clock, is a vibrant yet balanced blast of flavors on the tongue; I love the combination of the tropical fruits, slight vegetal edge from the tequila and the little spicy zing from the cinnamon, and the foam really lightened the texture and opened up different flavors and aromas. And that surly-sexy-temptress is right, this was exactly what I needed to end the night.
Mai Tai at Tonga Room - OK, the mai tai isn't all that (off balance with the juices and wound up being too tart and sweet at once) but the $10 pricetag to admire the elaborately decorated space was worth it -- from the huge tiki statues to assorted huts and the huge central pool. I was even lucky enough to catch a thunderstorm show!
Housemade Blood Orange-Hibsicus Sparkler at Nopalito - It's a virgin but still really tasty, this is another great summer sipper (esp. for situations where alchy may not be the way to go); just mildly tangy since it's mixed with sparking water, which also helps deliver the fresh aromas of the citrus and flower. Of course, given the many other luscious liquored-up libations I've had - can't help but think of possible ways to devirginize this drink . . .
Blogging and reminiscing about these dreamy drinks got me feeling like I left my heart in San Francisco; but given the evolving and ever-learning bartending scene here in L.A. I look forward to seeing some of these NorCal influences to filter down South -- and definitely can't wait to re-visit SF (and revisit some of these plus discovering new delicious stuff) later this year.
And much thanks to Liz of Food, She Thought, Nathan of Binary Tastebuds, Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, Lesley of TastingTable LA, Virginia of the Perfect Spot SF and others for their recommendations!
Coming Soon: Favorite eats in San Francisco + a day of winery touring in Sonoma Co.!
1725 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Bourbon & Branch
501 Jones St
San Francisco, CA 94102
1148 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
306 Broderick St
San Francisco, CA 94117-2275
950 Mason St
San Francisco, CA 94108-6000