With so many pioneers in small, craft distilling, SF is a natural fit for Thursday's Indy Spirits Expo. The lineup of liquors is long and varied, ranging from Boca Loca cachaca to Macchu Pisco-- and those are just the South American-style spirits. Handcrafted absinthe, plum-wine liqueur, Chicago-made aquavit, and plenty of good old gin, vodka, and whiskey will also abound. If you want to say hello to the hometown crowd, look for Alameda's Hangar One (we love their blueberry and chipotle vodkas), Petaluma's 3D Spirits (low-proof, tasty rums), and Novato's Square One (cucumber and botanical vodkas).
Bartenders have been playing around with fresh herbs lately, so I decided to try my hand at it, using basil from my parents garden up in Sonoma, the handle of a wooden spoon as my muddler and some citron vodka as a start. From there, I looked for inspiration on Hangar One’s website, where they have a whole bevy of good cocktail recipes. My final—very popular, I might add—concoction was based on SF bartender David Nepove’s recipe called The Retreat. The only difference is that I only swirled each glass with a good dash of Pernod (the anise-flavor of Pernod perfectly reflects the basil), rather than go for a full ounce. I also added a bit of cointreau to the shaker. If you serve it on the rocks, top with club soda as Nepove does.