One of the greatest food cities on earth, New Orleans has a truly one-of-a-kind spirit and verve. Its sensual magic easily translates into unique cuisine, historically formed from an array of cultures, and coalescing into unmatched Creole and Cajun cuisines. In keeping with the rest of the country, there’s a renaissance of mid-range, urban-chic, smart restaurants in Nola, alongside the eternal classics.
Post-1900, there were three things every visitor to SF had to do: “… ride the cable cars, watch the sun set through the Golden Gate, and try Duncan Nicol’s pisco punch.” Or so writes SF author Gregory Dicum in The Pisco Book, which includes a 1940s photo of House of Pisco, a former bar on Pacific Street, with a huge crowd milling around under a sign reading “Original World Famous Pisco Punch.”
The Alembic’s bar manager Daniel Hyatt says he’s “over the snobbery in cocktails”—a sentiment we’re likely to hear more often as bartenders tire of the increasingly precious spirits movement and return to the down-home stuff formerly known as hooch.
If anything qualifies as hooch, it’s American corn whiskey. San Francisco is just starting to see a glimmer of appreciation for this whiskey’s humble profile amid the expensive, aged alternatives. “Corn whiskey can be a fun thing to play with,” says Hyatt, who’s been stocking The Alembic’s shelves with under-the-radar American whiskeys for nearly five years.
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