They can shake it, they can stir it, but for one of Michael Mina’s newest cocktails all the bartender has to do is crack it. (And no, it doesn’t involve an egg, but it is egg shaped.)
Bar Director Carlo Splendorini, in thinking of new ways to present classic cocktails, is looking to modernist culinary techniques. His Aviation, which involves water balloons and liquid nitrogen may or may not have been inspired by a similar drink crafted by the Aviary team in Chicago, but thankfully, he has found an alternative to using a syringe. Because really, drinking cocktails should never, ever, at any stage, involve the use of a syringe. Ever.
When the Martini House, a beloved restaurant in St. Helena, closed its doors in 2010, there was much weeping to be heard in the northern Napa Valley. Rumors last year that Paul Fleming of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse would be moving into the 90-year-old building were met with mixed feelings. Thankfully, that deal fell through and Chicago restaurateur turned Napa Valley native Andy Florsheim bought it instead.
Francis Ford Coppola may have reclaimed the historic Inglenook name (which had long ago been converted into an economy-size staple), leaving the future of that jug wine up in the air (and many a skid-row vagrant with one less option.) But in Sonoma, a few producers are reclaiming the tradition of vino di tavola, or table wine, restoring it to its proper place as quality everyday wine — straightforward, yes, but clean and delicious, it is intended to be enjoyed with friends, family and a giant bowl of spaghetti.
Vodka’s been unfairly maligned. For seven centuries, it’s served as the perfect vehicle for transmitting alcohol into the system. Well-loved for its neutrality, for its ability to blend in (it is, in fact, officially defined as a “neutral spirit without distinctive character, aroma or taste”), vodka became popular in the US because it was exactly the opposite of whiskey – Smirnoff first promised “no taste, no smell” in the 1930s and thanks to the Bloody Mary, the Moscow Mule and the Cosmopolitan, vodka became a bar staple.
You know your Bay Area wines: Cabernet from Napa, Pinot Noir from Sonoma and, now, Malbec from Mendoza.
When Travis Cook picked up the phone on Monday evening, he had just finished a long day of foraging. And while he wouldn’t tell us where he was exactly (check your gardens, people), he will be preparing all the random and edible plants, herbs and flowers he found at his new, semi-temporary “we’ll see how it goes” pop-up.
No matter what type of menu they’re supporting—rustic Italian (Locanda), haute California (AQ), Chinese (Wo Hing General Store)—today’s restaurant bartenders are crafting strong cocktails with the delicate precision of a bomb squad. These drink menus demand as much attention as the rest of dinner, but whether these libations are food-friendly is another matter. (Do you really want to end up still sipping a glass of icy, dry sherry punch when your jook arrives?)
This week, more than a dozen bartenders from around San Francisco dusted off sticky bottles of Drambuie, embracing the challenge to reconsider the 200-year-old Scotch-based liqueur. Whether they normally spend their nights slinging Jaeger shots to college kids or discussing the finer points of the Manhattan to patrons perched precociously on velveteen stools, on Tuesday night, all were equal.
Napa Valley has been getting pretty beat up by young beverage professionals in San Francisco. Many feel that over-priced, high scoring wines made by former financiers aren’t that cool anymore. “Napa Valley just isn’t a very interesting place,” shrugged one beverage professional I spoke to recently.
One of the most promising winegrowing regions in Napa Valley is also one of the least visited. Just minutes outside of downtown Napa, the Coombsville sub-appellation is certainly off the beaten path, but not because of its remoteness. Until recently it wasn’t even on the map.
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