Cocktail Season in San Francisco

Steve Crane's Scorpion Bowl

It was HOT in San Francisco last week week. I’m talking 93 degrees in parts of the city that are usually reliably fog-covered. Solution? Lots of frosty cocktails.

Last Sunday, for example, I found myself in the vicinity of Alembic. While Alembic is a suitable destination for quaffable concoctions any day of the week, this particular evening was Savoy Cocktail Night, hosted by the staff of Alembic and Erik Ellestad. That’s right, the drink menus are shelved in favor of copies of Mr. Craddock’s codex of classic cocktails. Because the book lists cocktails only alphabetically (perhaps the least useful way one could organize 750 recipes — my kingdom for a concordance!), you are more or less resigned to flipping through the book randomly and pointing at something. My friend and I landed in the Ps and ordered a Pooh-Bah and a Prince’s Smile. The Pooh-Bah was the better of the two:

Pooh Bah Cocktail

  • 3/4oz gin
  • 3/4oz light rum
  • 3/4oz Swedish punsch
  • 1/4oz apricot brandy

Stir in mixing glass with ice and strain.

The Savoy Cocktail Book via Cocktail DB

On Tuesday, I attended Martin Cate’s “Tiki 101” class at Bourbon and Branch’s Beverage Academy, less out of the need for a refresher on the history of the culture, but generally to bask in the presence of the master. However, the course was a really nice look at the history of tiki drinks, including lots of information, and a ton of excellent slides showcasing the decor of tiki lounges now lost to the ravages of time. I’d recommend the class to anyone wanting to learn more about the development of these drinks, or how to mix them at home. Of course, the course includes lots of hands-on experience, with everything provided. To be honest, it felt a bit like being in Potions class at Hogwarts (or at least chemistry class in high school), complete with fun lab partners, including Tiki Centralmainstay Jentiki, and Krista from Martini Mistress.

The final drink we mixed that evening was Steve Crane’s Luau Scorpion, which you may recall emerged victorious from last summer’s Scorpion Bowl recipe smackdown here on KP. Go make one instantly!

I was really impressed by everything about this class. I hear Thad Vogler teaches the rum class, and after sampling some of his creations at Flora in Oakland the other week, I’m looking forward to taking that class as soon as they offer it again.

On a non-cocktail-related note: swung by the Trappist in Oakland last night for a friend’s birthday. The last time I was there was maybe two months ago? Anyhow, they have more than doubled their space, adding a whole new room that has its own bar (limited selections, natch), and tons of seating. According to their website, the back room is only open Thursday-Saturday. I recommend the Carolus Tripel on tap. We also tried a bottle of the De Graal Gember, which is brewed with ginger and lime.

Monday is Ed Hamiliton’s Ministry of Rum Festival. Looking at the list of brands and bartenders that will be there, I am suddenly glad that I’ve been training up for the event for the last week or two!

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One Comments to “ Cocktail Season in San Francisco”
  1. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    Ah jeez–I know I gotta get to these things. My Alembic experience is, like, meeting an old friend for a drink (or two or ten) on Haight, or coming back with my tax stuff from my ex’s two blocks away, where I lived for 10 years, and nine years ago, and stopping in and talking and schmoozing and perusing and ordering tiny balls of fried cheese. I love Alembic. Aub Zam Zam and Hobson’s Choice are great bars too.

    Hobson’s is best for ordering fine specialty rums (long list), no fuss, no frills. And it’s a surprisingly roomy, comfortable bar. They have mixed drinks to order too, but get a punch from the bowl (I like the amber one) with a float, and chase it with something grand.

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

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It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.

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