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Cocktails with Camper

At the Macallan dinner (the name of the house is actually The Macallan, so perhaps that should be “the The Macallan” dinner, I was seated next to San Francisco’s most dogged cocktail blogger and freelance journalist, Camper English. After dinner, I had plans to make some rounds and convinced young English to come along. We caught a cab and flew down to St. Marks, and the unlikely cocktail bar, PDT.

Jim Meehan behind the bar

Any Given Sunday

I was born a fan of the Seattle Seahawks and there’s nothing I can do about it. We have a love-hate relationship—I hate to get too excited about them, because they always let me down, and they love to let me down.

I don’t often get to see the ‘hawks on TV, as you need a dish or some expensive TV package to get out-of-town games. But this year, I’ve got a solution . . . going to watch football at Elixir in the Mission.

(Taken with my phone.)

Spruce It Up

Spruce the long-awaited bar and restaurant on Sacramento Street in Laurel Village opened a couple of months ago. I finally had time to stop by and check out the cocktails and wine list at its exceedingly lovely bar.

Church of Absinthe

I’m not a religious man, but a weekend visit to Absinthe, where I hadn’t been in a while, did feel a little like going to the Unified Church of Libation. See . . .

The light streamed in the stained glass windows.

Thirsty from a long walk from the Embarcadero, I paid tribute to a Pillar of Wisdom:

A Little Tart

I’m not referring to your sister, I’m referring to these new-ish “cocktail sodas” from Stirrings.

As someone who cooks from scratch, I’m a firm believer in doing things the long and hard way. But I will grudgingly admit that Stirrings is making some good products for those who have neither the will nor the time to take the long way to mixing drinks. The people who are coming up with these products obviously have good palates because the sodas aren’t sweet or cloying the way most mixers on the market are.

Carpal Diem

This post on Explore the Pour rang true with me since I've started working a couple of bartending shifts at Cantina. My problem isn't the incessant muddling of mojitos (we get a few orders every night for these, but nothing over the top), but rather the toll of hand-squeezing hundreds of limes, lemons, oranges and grapefruits in a night. The day after a shift, my hands are a bit cramped and in desperate need of a good massage.

Mega-sized rinds

The Hemingway Daiquiri

Ernest Hemingway, July 21, 1899 - July 2, 1961

As was pointed out by one of the genial, twittering, PR birds so constantly abuzz in my ear, this is the week of Hemingway's birthday (and the anniversary month of both his death and birth).

Hemingway's contributions to many fields are in no need of enumeration here. But the man did stamp his identity on the cocktail with his favored way of taking the drink.

The Daiquiri is named for a Cuban mining town where an American engineer came up with the simple formula of lime + rum + sugar (hmmm, hard to imagine that had never been done before) that worked so beautifully that it became canonical.

The Beauty of Nopa

Neyah with a special, unlisted cocktail

You know they're doing something right at Nopa when you’re willing to wait 25 minutes for a bar stool, and fight off vicious competitors while doing it. It's clear why people are so eager to get seats here: The bar is genius.

Classic Crunch Cocktail with a Twist

Here is a version I created of a classic drink: the Champagne Cocktail. This one employs blackberries, which I quartered and marinated in Cointreau for a half hour. The rest is just as simple.

Champagne Cocktail

Drop a sugar cube into the bottom of a Champagne flute
Drench it with several dashes of Angostura bitters
Top with Champagne or some other sparkling wine
Drop in a few blackberries

It’s a good drink for brunch—that is, if you're not nursing a hangover with a Bloody Mary.

A Taste of Some of the Other Drinks

Now that you know the winner, here’s my take on the other drinks. Stay tuned for the official recipes, to be posted over the next few days.


H. from Elixir infused his vodka with chai and added fresh strawberry and lychee liqueur to make an extremely complex and surprising drink. 

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