The better part of Wednesday's Dining section in the New York Times was given to their coverage of so-called winter drinks. But instead of toddies and warmers they talked instead about rum, though not the hot and buttered kind that would seem appropriate for this time of year. Rather it was aged rum in a tasting column by E Asimov and an article on the revival of rum-based tiki cocktails puncturing the mustachioed seriousness of the hardcore bartending set.
I'm so happy it's December 1. Well, I mean, it's true that the year has raced by faster than ever, and I puzzle over where exactly it went. And it's true that we're getting into that hectic crush where end-of-the-year projects collide with holiday shopping only to be buried by an avalanche of social obligations. But we're also in the month that allows us a coping mechanism for the madness: the afternoon drink. Naturally, I'm writing this with a martini in hand (one of my favorite afternoon cocktails -- 2 parts Plymouth, 1 part Noilly-Pratt, lemon twist, stirred). I hope you're reading this with same.
Because I love what they're doing so much, I'm going to take this space once again to hype an upcoming beer dinner at the Monk's Kettle. This Wednesday Dec 2, the Monk's Kettle folks have devised yet another really cool beer dinner, this time featuring select beers from Shelton Brothers, one of the most adventurous and fascinating beer importers in the country. Almost as cool as their portfolio, which sports beers from 16 different countries (including Brazil and Japan), is the fact that they're based in the aptly named Belchertown, MA.
You’ve driven by Zeki’s, on California and Leavenworth, a million times. But did you know it’s one of SF’s coziest bars? Burnished dark wood, dusky lighting and a roaring fireplace. Weeknights, stop in for a whiskey, and enjoy some tranquility (weekends can be a bit, shall we say, festive).
1319 California St., 415-928-0677, zekisbar.com
Do dessert wine
Perfect for the holidays is Rosenblum Black Muscat, a thick, viscous beauty that smells of candied cherries, blackberries and cinnamon. Chill it ever so slightly and serve with a plate of good cheese.
An article in the New York Times today highlighted the beauty and dearth of California apple brandies. It's seasonally apt, since we're in the midst of apple season, and there's lots of good apply stuff to drink these days. Besides the apple brandies mentioned in the piece, I'm a huge fan of Eric Bordelet apple cider, which is available in lots of good beer shops and Whole Foods.
Yesterday, there was some big news. And it was amazing.
The news was that Smuggler's Cove, Martin Cate's new Tiki bar is set to open to the public on December 8 in the old Jade Bar space.
Why was the news amazing? Because that date is pretty much right on the target that he set for himself when he announced the new project back in June. How often does that happen? If Cate's bar is run in nearly as orderly and well-planned a fashion as its conception and execution, it should be a very successful place.
The Wall Street Journal just ran this interesting news video on the state of the grape economy in California this harvest. It bears some good news and some less good.
The first good news is that a surprise cameo towards the end has SF's resident young pinot noir star and 7x7 Hot 20 Under 40 member Jamie Kutch talking about his good fortune in getting access to some high quality grapes he never could before.
With people like Momfuku's David Chang in town promoting his book and doing 7x7 panel discussions, all the talk in the food world has been about the NYC-SF rivalry in the food world. But it’s not only in the kitchen that the two coasts have their differences. Bartenders in New York and San Francisco have long had a rivalry, though it tends to be less contentious than the chefs. Vive la Difference is more the motto than trash talk like “all San Francisco bartenders do is put lime in glass!” That said, it’s still interesting to explore the differences between the two bartending cultures.
Whenever I visit wineries and wine warehouses, I find it impossible not to marvel at the skill of the forklift drivers. Have you ever noticed the same thing? For one, they have to manouver around in tight spaces. (I have trouble simply backing up a car on a straight line.) Two, they are lifting and carefully placing incredibly heavy loads (cases, full barrels) on top of stacks or barrel racks sometimes 30 feet high. One slight error in judgement and it could mean losses of thousands of dollars worth of wine or, even worse, death to the driver.