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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