There's no Coco Lopez cream of coconut in the classic piña colada at Charles Phan's new Wo Hing General Store. Bar manager Brooke Arthur uses handmade coconut cream instead, giving the drink an unexpected lightness and sophistication—this is not your grandma's all-inclusive cruise ship piña colada. The cream is made in Charles Phan's commissary kitchen. "It has a milky texture and taste that adds a lot to the cocktail," says Arthur. Compared to the intravenous sugar hit that is Coco Lopez, it's a revelation. What else goes into a pina colada befitting Phan's food? You'll be able to taste it for yourself when the restaurant opens this Friday, but here's a preview.
Friday night. You and your friends order two beers from the taps, a glass of wine and the frou frou cocktail of the night—you know, the one the bartender has to whisper to before he pours it over the back of a spoon. The check comes and it's blank stares all around at the empty tip line. Should you add 20% to the total? Do you just combine the dollar bills in everyone's pockets and call it a night? What I learned this week: the standard for tipping at the bar is $1 per drink. But it's not that simple. Let's take this matter to some well-liked bartenders around town for some straight shooting on the matter.
It seems like everyone's on a Negroni kick lately, but to make one perfectly, you need a good gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Our friends at Liquor.com challenged some of SF's best bartenders from watering holes like Marco Dionysos from Smuggler's Cove and Rye, Erik Adkins from Heaven's Dog, and Ryan Fitzgerald and Vince Lund from Beretta to mix up the best Negroni they could to determine which gins and sweet vermouths are prime. Read about the results here, and mix up your own Negroni with the winning recipe.
If you're reading this, you’re likely well aware that Smuggler’s Cove has the best rum in town. (Which may or may not mean you research local watering holes with alarming regularity.) What you might not know is that there’s nothing more bad ass than taking a deceased - and, we assume, appropriately gutted - blowfish from its salty sea home and sticking a colored light bulb up its butt.
Last night, I had the wonderful fortune of attending a Pernod Absinthe Excursion, a night about town in the most stylish of ways—a caravan of old-fashioned Rolls Royces escorting an intimate group from the yet-to-open Comstock Saloon to the Michelin-starred Fifth Floor restaurant in Hotel Palomar and finally to the wildly popular rum bar Smuggler's Cove in Hayes Valley. The night's goal? To learn about the art of absinthe. Since becoming legal in the US about three years ago, the potent potion has retained its mystique and power but still has not hit the mainstream as a regular cocktail ingredient. Here to prove us otherwise were Pernod and a gaggle of SF's expert mixologists.
The better part of Wednesday's Dining section in the New York Times was given to their coverage of so-called winter drinks. But instead of toddies and warmers they talked instead about rum, though not the hot and buttered kind that would seem appropriate for this time of year. Rather it was aged rum in a tasting column by E Asimov and an article on the revival of rum-based tiki cocktails puncturing the mustachioed seriousness of the hardcore bartending set.
Yesterday, there was some big news. And it was amazing.
The news was that Smuggler's Cove, Martin Cate's new Tiki bar is set to open to the public on December 8 in the old Jade Bar space.
Why was the news amazing? Because that date is pretty much right on the target that he set for himself when he announced the new project back in June. How often does that happen? If Cate's bar is run in nearly as orderly and well-planned a fashion as its conception and execution, it should be a very successful place.