Welcome to the drinking blog. Every week, I'll be corresponding in this space about all the fun one can have in this town when it comes to imbibing.
One such place—a new spot in the Haight called The Alembic (www.alembicbar.com)—might be technically considered a restaurant with a bar, but in fact it is the opposite. Most of the long, narrow space is dominated by a long and generous bar, while the dining area is civilly kept small and to the rear.
While the food menu is quite interesting and delicious, this restaurant will be of primary interest to those who pursue the cocktail. The owners are the same as the venerable bar in the Haight called Magnolia, but they have taken their craft to a higher level with The Alembic.
First of all, the bar is comprised almost totally of rare and boutique spirits. Thus, you won't find things like Smirnoff and Seagram's Seven, but you will find McKendric "mesquite-mellowed" whiskey from Texas and lots of other delicious ephemera.
Under the stewardship of expert bartender/mixologist Daniel Hyatt, who established his own creds at the late restaurant Winterland, I dove into the cocktail list. I started out hot with my first order, The Bone, a bold combination of rye, lime and a healthy shot of Tabasco. This I followed with something far mellower, the Formula 19-B, a new take on the mint julep. The mint is not muddled, just shaken in a tumbler with rye and the clever addition of Gosling's dark rum for a little richness. This went down terrifically well. So well, in fact that I had to follow it up with something of Hyatt's creation. He whipped up a lovely cocktail that, thanks to the addition of Campari, glowed with a burnished red. I suggested naming it the “Beauty Mark" because, besides the color, it tasted like a cocktail someone with a strategically placed mark might drink. The name stuck. I suggest you go order it.
1725 Haight St.