Monday, June 04, 2007


San Francisco Cocktail Week

Once settled into our hotel, we began mapping out participating bars. The first place we hit with notepad and camera was Cortez, tucked into the Hotel Adiago in Union Square.

Sleek and stylish, Cortez oozes approachable sophistication. The lobby features oversized lamp shades hung from the ceiling in grape-like clusters over a hipper Mary Tyler Moore-esque living room set. Small groups of French business convention attendees twittered away in the corner of the lounge. Lithe ladies-who-cocktail draped over the bar, drinking in both the libations and the cute barman, Zack.

We arrived post-dinner service (drat!), but I met one of Cortez’s two Executive Chefs, Seth Bowden. When former Executive Chef Quinn Hatfield left to open Hatfield’s in Los Angeles, Seth and his culinary partner, Louis Maldonado, decided to share the head position. Bowden points out, “As co-chefs we are able to come together regarding food phobias or philes.” The duo presents imaginative dishes like popcorn sorbet and Pernod-braised rhubarb. They also handle different aspects of the bustling hotel restaurant-cum-popular Theatre District eatery.

“Everything is organic,” ensures Bowden. Fresh sushi grade fish is flown in from Japan, and that same fish is also used for hot dishes. This new trend of cooking fish slowly, at low temperature (115 degrees) makes it comes out like “buttah.” For sushi nuts (like me!) the fish mystery box is a potpourri of luscious surprise chef’s choice from new Japanese arrivals.

But, here I am talking about food, and we were there for the drinks!

Cortez’s featured original cocktail, the Tore Margarita, created by Ronaldo Colli is to-die-for! Tangy, zesty with the lingering spiciness from the roasted jalapeno, this drink has got tongues a-wagging (and not only from the heat of the chili pepper!) Imbibe at your own risk – but definitely do play around with these flavor combinations:

Chinaco anejo tequila

Lime juice

Roasted jalapeno

Tamarind paste


Photos courtesy of Claire Barrett Photography

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