Sunday, June 17, 2007

“A Drop, A Dash, A Jigger”

San Francisco Cocktail Week Wrap Up

It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve returned from the wonderful and amazing San Francisco Cocktail Week, and I'm still dreaming about it.

Bay Area Mixologists: Jeff Hollinger of Absinthe, H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir and Duggan McDonnell of Cantina organized a week-long celebration of the town’s vibrant and collaborative cocktail culture. I’ve written about a few bars I visited up North in posts, below, and now its time to post the grand finale, which took place at Absinthe, with an after-party at Elixir.

San Fracisco Cocktail Week was planned to bubble over into the celebration of The Museum of the American Cocktail’s World Cocktail Day, and the annual Bay to Breakers ‘drunk’ fun run (an amazing race whose participants push fully stocked bars or carry martinis through the streets of the city dressed in wild get-up and toasting good cheer.)

I was able to get up to San Fran for a couple of days with friend and photographer Claire Barrett. We hit 7 bars in two nights, chatting with intriguing personalities and snapping as many complementary images as possible. This was not a sponsored trip. This was a labor of love, which came out of our own personal budgets, workweek, and desire to soak up a little cocktail-inspired fun!

“Absolutely thrilled” is the best way to describe my excitement at meeting so many other people who are passionate about cocktails and the history, lore and “spirit” behind them. On Monday, May 21st, the week’s festivities culminated at Absinthe, a casually elegant Parisian-style brasserie and bar, where the occasional little green fairy peeks out at the revelry.

Wall-to-wall cocktail lovers, bartenders, Mixologists, spirits makers and personalities mingled over drinks and passed apps. It was fun for me to clink glasses with other cocktail enthusiasts such as Ann Rogers, the woman behind Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans; Gary Regan, author of The Joy of Mixology and San Francisco Chronicle’s cocktail column “The Cocktailian;” Alison Evanow, CEO of Square One Organic Vodka and Arne Hillesland from Gin Distillery No. 209 (write up on that coming in a future post...)

I also met Alberta Straub whose new online show “Cocktails On The Fly” recently debuted (Her clips are fun – and she beat me to the punch! I’ve already shot a few episodes but finding the time to edit and post amidst my full time writing career makes it a bit slow going… So, tune in to Alberta’s show in the meantime!).

Once we’d drunk Absinthe close to dry, it was time to meander on down to Elixir for the after-party, where the fun
continued well into the night. By that time, I had “sampled” several of the tempting libations (like Absinthe’s featured cocktail The Bobtailed Nag) so I slowed down on drinks.

Well, to be honest, I slowed down on drinks AFTER I tried Elixir’s featured classic cocktail The Corpse Reviver. (I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t heard of it before - and I couldn’t resist a name like that!) I’d describe Elixir as an old-west gold rush saloon, gone modern, gone retro. Rustic, a little chic and definitely happening, it was a great place to wind down two solid nights of festivities.

The only danger of drinking in San Francisco is the Pavlovian response one develops upon return home. Just hear the city’s name mentioned and the mouth dries, the lips smack and a yearning for an incredibly well-crafted drink, along well-informed and enthusiastic people with whom to share it takes hold...

(But, between you and me, it’s a risk worth taking.)

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