San Francisco trip, Part the first

Posted by TraderTiki on April 10th, 2008 — Posted in Bilge, Places, rye

And so I find myself, writing on a half-dead business laptop at SFO. There are now 2 days of some of the best and worst things to ever happen standing behind me now. You don’t care to hear the bad parts though, and I don’t care to focus on them. So let’s get onto the best parts of all, the booze!

A trip to California just isn’t complete without checking out John Walker spirits on Sutter in San Francisco. Within moments of entering, the mind boggles at the selection of just about everything obscure you can think of. Not one flavored Absolut on the shelf, but plenty of unheard of (and often under-appreciated) liquors from around the world. I couldn’t resist a bottle of St. George Absinthe Verte, a few rums, a dutch Genever, and the Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that they make it unharmed on the way home.

The Vow of SilenceBeing in the bay area, I was finally (after three tries) got a chance to meet up with Erik of Under-hill Lounge, eGullet, now renowned for his quest of “Stomping through the Savoy“, as seen in the Wall Street Journal. We met at Alembic, which I would have to say is definitely in the top five of my favorite bars now. The bartenders, Josey and Thomas, were knowledgeable, inquisitive, and just all around fun. The atmosphere was comfortable enough to pop in after work without feeling the need to dress up, and yet the drinks practically felt like they required a tux. I had to start the evening with a “Vow of Silence“, seeing as there’s also one on the Teardrop menu. The drink was light and sweet, as only a combo of Rye and Benedictine can do. It really focused on the crisper edges of the Rye. At that point, in walked HumuHumu of… well, of just about everything Tiki on the internet. My Sister-in-law, her husband, his brother all rolled in, it was quite a night for friends and family. Feeling the need for some familiarity, I ordered a Last Word with the Chartreuse VEP. On ordering this, Erik noted that Flora used the VEP as their well chartreuse, and that the pour cost wasn’t that much of a difference. I’m still fuzzy about the math on that, but seeing as it comes in a liter bottle, it’s totally possible.

Josey at full speedAlembic sports a menu with both their own creations, and plenty of classics, particularly a hearty selection of New Orleans cocktails. The Vieux Carre was delicious and spicy, and the Sazerac was ruby red, and quite fantastic. When Thomas asked if I would prefer the peel in or out, I knew I was in the right place.

One of the original cocktails that was sampled was the Southern Exposure, a mixture containing celery juice, gin, gomme, and mint. The celery juice was a really rich flavor, and gave it a delightful green color. I may have to make a bottle or two at home to play with.

Alembic also sports a robust selection of Belgian and Trappist ales, of which I was eager to try a nice Trippel. The ale was fantastic, but I’m not sure that I’ll do that again… tiny bubbles and plenty of Rye don’t tend to mix well in the bloodstream, and I got a pretty righteous headache a few hours into the night. Other than that, it was a great place and though I won’t be able to visit often, it’ll certainly be a regular stop when I’m in the Bay Area.

I’m back home now, but had plenty of time to write while stuck at SFO for 6 hours. Stay tuned for part the second, where I once again visit my favorite island.

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