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Eat + Drink

Drinking Las Vegas

Along with many prominent San Francisco bartenders last week, I took in the unholy jambalaya of libation promotion that is the Las Vegas Bar Show. While boutique brands like Michter's whiskey and Barsol Pisco had small booths on the periphery of the show, the main floor was dominated by big brands, novelty vodkas (such as O2, "the world's first sparkling vodka"),



energy drinks and lots of blondes, such as you see at the Nuvo ("the world's first sparkling liqueur") and Rock Star Energy Drink booths.

Blue Bottle Buzz

So I finally made it over to the Blue Bottle Cafe. It's a strangely exhilarating experience, as the old-fashioned burnished hominess of the coffeehouse has been turned into a post-modern coffee laboratory. With all the beakers, tubes and flashing lights, the cafe is just a few caged rats short of being a place I could imagine producing prescription mood drugs.




But coffee is a bit of a mood drug itself, and the steaming cups I had were as delicious as the Japanese siphon system (the first in the US) was perplexing. The coffee is indeed good, but the show is even better.

The Eat + Drink List: This week’s top 7

1. Honk if you love cheeses

Christopher Elbow: Chocolate, Late-Night

From CocoaBella to Michael Recchiuti to the new Swiss-import, Schoggi, just off Union Square, San Francisco is well on its way to being the next Barcelona, a city dipped in chocolate-chic. On February 5, Christopher Elbow, the very talented Kansas City–based chocolatier, opened his second, austerely modern store-cum-lounge in Hayes Valley (401 Hayes St., 415-355-1105).

The new Hayes Street shop. (Photo courtesy
Mr. Elbow himself).

Find Me at Le Club

It's hard to avoid the mild feelings of skepticism that accompany the opening of anything that seems like it might be putting on airs—particularly in San Francisco, particularly when a certain someone is telling us that we need economic stimulating. But, then, well...wait just a second. When Le Club opens today it may well exceed our expectations. Though it is a reservation-only restaurant and bar (yes, that means that even if you just want a cocktail you have to plan ahead...sorry, casual Californians), it's interior is more old-fashioned lounge than new slick club: intimate, sleek and polished, with marble floors, an onyx bar and a billiards room.

253...

...cocktails made in one hour (in Las Vegas, by Beam Global Spirits master mixologist Bobby G) to set the Guinness record. See the video. That's a lot of drinks. I'm not sure what the Guinness record is for drinking cocktails in an hour, but I have to believe it's a bit lower. I hope so, anyway.

Stompin' at the Savoy

This was the scene last week at the Alembic, the best cocktail bar between Van Ness and Japan, where intrepid bartenders Thomas Waugh and Daniel Hyatt (in ties and vests) had suspended the use of their standard cocktail list and replaced it with the entire 293-page Savoy Cocktail Book. Originally published in 1930, this volume is both a valuable historical clue to the vibrancy of a distant age and a still-relevant compendium of drinking fun. A dozen copies of the book were available at the bar, and drinkers were invited to simply thumb through it and find something they wanted to drink.

Sugar Pie, Honeycomb


The ice cream truck is no longer reason to scream: It the waffle truck now—on tour all the way from Belgium. The Waffle Mania truck parks itself at the Civic Center Heart of the City Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 8 am to 2 pm and the lines can be long. Some have ordered 12 at a time; bloggers protested when the waffle truck was absent one morning; and according to co-owner Derby, Michelle Williams, of the defunct Destiny's Child, is one of their fans.


Orson Unveiled


  
The crowd at Orson's circular marble bar.
All photos by Josh Reiss.


Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake fame premiered her newest enterprise, Orson, this week in SoMa. All the prerequisites were in place: the line sprawling down Fourth Street, the large doorman, the chocolate-smeared nude waitresses, the usual crowd of power lesbians and prowling thirty-somethings thronging through the lofty space.

Gary Danko: Fire and Disco Balls!

Confession: I dined for the first time at Gary Danko … last week. Yes, Gary Danko, winner for Best Overall restaurant for our 2008 Reader’s Choice Awards, Michelin-star Danko, Relais & Chateau Danko. I was prepped for great service and a great cheese cart, but there was one thing I hadn't considered. Gary Danko can actually be quite thrilling—and I’m not talking about the food.


Pyrotechnics at Gary Danko.

1. It offers great people watching.
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