The setup looks like a magic trick. Ten tulip-shaped champagne glasses side-by-side on a grated rail behind Buena Vista Cafe’s crowded saloon bar. Two cubes of C&H sugar drop into each glass. The bartender tips a pot of Peerless coffee and partly fills each glass down the line. A spoon follows, briskly pitching steam into the air. The heat is extinguished with a unbroken pour of Tullamore Dew whiskey and a white dollop of whipped cream.
It's only Wednesday and you're way behind on your drinking schedule for the week. From IPA galore at an video game bar to a new happy hour at a modern beer garden, we're here to help.
Scotch lovers, start your engines: this Tuesday marks the first day of Whisky Week, a five-day series of events and tastings that culminates in the annual WhiskyFest, which features over 250 libations from around the globe. Whether you're a neophyte looking to learn more about an unfamiliar spirit or an expert excited to try all those ultra-pricey new expressions you've been reading about, this week has plenty to offer.
It's a breezy midwinter evening in the Mission District and half a dozen people are huddled around a stainless steel contraption in a small backyard watching intently as a clear liquid drips out of a spigot. "We're distilling an all malt beer, without the hops, to make this whiskey," notes our host, who asked to remain anonymous due to the legal ramifications of his work. Unlike commercial whiskey, though, this newly distilled batch of "White Dog"—the unaged distillate that eventually becomes bourbon—will be cut with cold water and consumed fresh. No months resting in an oak barrel to add color, hints of vanilla, and the mysterious smoothness that comes with time.
Bourbon and Branch
The whiskey options at this secret-password bar are surprisingly unclassified: Buy it by the straight pour (ask for their special Pappy single-barrel), in one of the pre- selected tasting flights (bourbon, rye, Irish, or Scotch), or in a mixed flight of half-pours of your own choosing.
What happens when the city’s top bartenders are forced to choose? Introducing the ultimate five-bottle bar, perfectly sized for apartment dwelling.