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.
Not that anyone needs and excuse to party on Halloween, but when it falls on a Saturday, as it does this year, I can sense trouble. Pretty much every bar is going to be revving up its party atmosphere this weekend, so there's no need to list them all.
But all manner of Halloween cocktail suggestions have been landing in my inbox over the last week or so, so I thought I share a few of them with you--both the tasty-sounding and the gruesome.
Yesterday, Jason Wilson of the Washington Post wrote of his experiences using wine--specifically the Yellowtail wine from Australia that he disdained--in cocktails and finding it pretty darn good. In the article he says our own SF bartender Neyah White of Nopa mixes Croft Pink, a new-styled port wine, "in an ice-filled highball glass with gin and orange bitters, then tops it with ginger beer." Does that sound good to your or bad? Could you imagine using your favorite Napa Cab in a drink or would you just prefer to drink it straight? Wine can be a harmonious blender, but it's definitely less alcohol and concentration than a spirit.
I was bartending the other night at Cantina and made a round of drinks for a group. When it came time for the second round, one of the guys said he liked the cocktail I made him, but wanted something "stronger." Now I hate it when people ask for "stronger" drinks. Bartenders put the right amount of alcohol in each drink, so don't ask for more. You wouldn't ask for more steak in a restaurant after your first serving, would you? I told him that his last drink had been strong, just balanced so it didn't taste that way.
The Booze News is a roundup of pertinent or otherwise interesting drink-related stories from the media. I try to do it once a week.
Even though we San Franciscans are chilly most of the year, during these rare scorching days of summer, it's hard not to occasionally fantasize about a cold beverage, filled to the top with glistening, frosty ice cubes. We don't usually spend a lot of time thinking about ice, but I can assure you that many of city's bartenders do whether it's cubed, spheroid, chipped, shaved or crushed.
I raved about the drinks at Heaven's Dog after my first visit, which was only a week or so after it opened. I loved the menu, the style, the execution. But no restaurant should be judged prematurely--revisiting is good both to see if things have improved or to see if they've remained consistent.
Usually I try to avoid having to purchase any sort of food or drink at the airport. Besides being overpriced, the food--even simple things--tends to be so bad that it can take the joy out of being alive. This has happened to me recently with such comestibles as a sandwich from the La Brea bakery outlet in Los Angeles--if mustard had been slathered on a piece of particle board, I couldn't have told the difference.The same often goes for cocktails, which are always bad and made of artificial things. So if forced into drinking, I opt for a beer, even though it's not hard to tell that most airport bars have never cleaned their beer lines. But sometimes you've got to succumb . . .
I've always meant to go to Conduit more than I've managed to, which is hardly at all. Might be something about the name: It's always sounded more like a professionally named corporate finance/tech/insurance kind of business (Intuit, Agilent, etc) than a place I'd go to tickle my gastronomic senses. Nevertheless, the other night I made it in for a thorough and overdue visit and found it to live up to all the hype.