Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest bartender....

I know it's last minute, but come by from 5 to 7 tomorrow and try some drinks by Elizabeth Markham from Beaker and Flask in Portland, OR.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tis the season....

I must admit, I am not the most festive holiday sort of person, I usually grow tired of having Christmas songs shoved down my throat, ridiculous schedule requests, the flu, etc...
I guess the only saving grace are some of the flavors of the holiday season that somehow make it all go away, offering some respite from the madness and even the occasional bout of nostalgia.
If it comes with an ABV, all the better...
So, I introduce to you our latest round of special holiday beers:
From Germany:
Mahr's Brau Christmas Bock, a light to medium body, mildly spicy, easy drinking holiday lager. 6% abv. 500ml

Weissenohe Monk's Christmas, Medium to full bodied, toasty, warming lager with a lingering, hoppy finish. abv unknown. 500ml

From The UK:
Hook Norton Twelve Days, Medium to full bodied strong ale, malty, nutty with a hint of dried fruit and floral hops. 5.5% abv. 500ml

From Norway:
Nogne O Winter Ale, sweet porter, rich chocolate, coffee, caramel, woody aromas. Viscous, sweet and malty. 8.5% abv. 500ml

From California:
The Bruery's Two Turtle Doves, strong, dark, Belgian style ale. Nutty, dark chocolate aroma and flavors, dark fruit and malt, well balanced hoppiness, complex. Warming, lengthy finish. 12% abv. 750ml

Also on draft, for a limited time:
Life and Limb, a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head brewery, this beer is made with estate grown barley from Chico, maple syrup from Massachusetts and birch syrup from Alaska.
Cheers and happy, um, holidays...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Primal, this Saturday....

This Saturday, November 7th
This is going to be awesome.
Details and tickets at
Hope to see you there.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A word from our sponsors....

It's an exciting week for whisk(e)y lovers here in San Francisco, this Friday's Whiskyfest event brings spirit lovers and makers from all over and events abound.
Here at Alembic, we've got some fun stuff happening, love to see y'all for a sip.

This Wednesday, we've got a special (and sold out) private dinner with High West whiskey from Utah. The good news is, we open to the public after 9pm and plan to have a little extra to share.
Here's the menu:
Crispy ocean trout w/ turnips, gnocchi, carmelized onion dashi
- High West Rendezvous rye
Tamarind glazed sweetbreads w/ tart apple, cranberry beans, horseradish
- High West 16yr rye
Foie gras terrine w/ huckleberry, caramel corn, cashew, upland cress
-High West 21yr rye

On Thursday, it's a happy hour with Heaven Hill. Come taste Evan Williams single barrel and Elijah Craig bourbons, and indulge in $5 Old Fashioned or Manhattans. It's only from 5 to 7pm so come early.

On Sunday, it's Savoy time! We are going to be doing some special $7 whiskey drinks featuring Rittenhouse rye. 6pm till late.

Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2007 York Creek Touriga

Admittedly, wine is not the biggest horse in our stable, but every once in a while I get excited about it and have to run my mouth a bit, not that I consider myself an expert or anything....

Touriga Nacional is a somewhat unusual varietal from Portugal, usually used to make fortified wines. It tends to be a fairly muscular grape, producing wines with intense black fruit and firm tannins. I definitely expected a monster out of this wine but was pleasantly surprised with it.
There is definitely some rich, dark fruit but also some really nice floral notes as well. It's just a tad chewy, but with a nice acidity. Medium to full bodied and a modest 13% abv, I think it makes a nice sipper as well as a good workhorse for pairing with our eclectic menu.
We liked it so much, we bought all of it. So if you want to try it, better come over here (or down the street at Magnolia) where we will be pouring it by the glass until it runs out.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My favorite purveyor....

I just get a little excited everytime I see this. It's great when you can take something from the ground to the table in a matter of hours, and inspiration is as simple as a walk in the backyard.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nearly finished product...

So the tomato infusion turned out pretty good, not entirely happy but pleasantly surprised.
I had a few bottles of Sagatiba Pura hanging around, so I tossed in some sun dried tomato. Within an hour, the color and aromas were already starting to assert themselves, which should have been a warning, but I let it roll for 2 days to really fortify itself. Looking back, I should have been periodically tasting it and maybe pulled it a little earlier. Nevertheless, it has a deep, rich tomato flavor, even a touch of saltiness that I don't find entirely unpleasant.
The resulting cocktail: A simple mix of the infused cachaca, little shot of cane syrup and a thick chunk of lime.
The verdict: Not a failure by any means but I was looking for something a little lighter, maybe a bit drier and more refreshing. What I got is a deep, sweet and savory concoction. Enjoyable, but I would probably sip one slowly, maybe not take another.
Next step: I may just cut it with some straight cachaca and back off on the sugar, but really I think the next batch will just infuse a little less time, I also want to try oven drying some heirloom tomato and attempt the same process. Or just serve it with in a little glass of ale, which was quite delicious as well.
I can think of a lot of ways to take this one. Come by and try some.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I can't wait...

I have a feeling this is going to be really good. Dried tomato infused Rhum Acricole. Should be ready for some ti punch by the weekend.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tails of the Cocktail....

So a funny thing happened in New Orleans....
Well, actually, many funny things happened in New Orleans at this years Tales of the Cocktail event.

While it was great to see so many friends and colleagues from around the country and beyond, I somehow left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Perhaps it was the swigs from so many bottles of lukewarm tequila, pisco, or flasks of whiskey, mezcal, or pot stilled rum. More so, I feel there was so little need for this hyped up event in order to share what really mattered.

It's pretty hard to get a cocktail in that town, the lines are long, bar staff can be short, if not grumpy. The events are crowded and at the end of the day, most everyone is most interested in just getting drunk. It's not to say that many of the participants didn't bring their A game, I can't say I spit anything out, but the context just doesn't work for inventive, and dare I say, fussy drinks. Hence, I remember few, if any. Panels become overly branded, overly expensive, and in some cases, irrelevant. Events are overly exclusive, and poorly coordinated.

Truth be told, cold beer in the swimming pool, a simple shot of whiskey on the rocks, or some gin and vermouth over ice in a plastic cup made, for me, the perfect balm for the sticky temperature and derelict temperament.

What happens in New Orleans, stays in New Orleans.

I suppose Las Vegas' well known adage, is applicable in this instance. I dutifully left my camera in the hotel room, intent on just going along for the ride. What I witnessed, I can simply summarize as ranging from mild bravado, to downright narcissism, and debauchery making a crowd of talented service industry professionals into drunken caricatures of reckless Hollywood stars. All in good "fun" I assure you, but revealing as well.

The real inspiration I bring back with me had little to do with the circus that Tales really is, but rather the food I ate in that city. This year found me dining far less at the "finer" seats in the city, but more having some amazing, authentic, soulful and unpretentious meals, with some fine company, at a leisurely pace. Heaps of fried chicken and catfish, piles of greens cooked within inches of their lives, yards of boudin, mounds of alligator, fistfuls of shrimp or crab, smothered in sauces rich and satisfying, all served with simple cans of cold, domestic beer or just ice tea and coca cola.

I return with a real sense that this "cocktail thing" may just be a bit out of control. We've stopped being servants and craftsmen and become authors, artists, chefs, and technicians. Do we need degrees or crowns?
Some of the best things in life, as in gastronomy or mixology, require little hermeneutics or decoding. They just present themselves as they are, satisfy, and then resonate. The way a walk in the park might stick with you better than an art history exam.

For my part, I still appreciate immensely the hard work and rich creative resources of my colleagues. I maintain a deep respect for experimentation and innovation, love to be challenged, and whole heartedly give credit where credit is due.

That being said, I come back humbled, wishing only to throw some thick chunks chilled melon into a glass with a small sprig of fresh herb and a healthy dose of blanco tequila and a twist of lime, set it carefully on a cocktail napkin on a clean bar top, smile and be smiled at. Either that or a shot and a beer. It's your dime.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Getting busy

Seems like it's been forever since I've managed to post to this blog.
We've been real busy down at the bar, new cocktails, new beers, new food etc...
So the news:
We are making some awesome Clover Club cocktails with housemade raspberry syrup. We've got some nice raspberries growing right out back. Melons are starting to taste pretty incredible now too, so I expect to be pouring out some nice agua frescas real soon.
We did some cool punches for this months Savoy Sunday, so those might be joining our summer line-up in the near future too.
Back in the kitchen, Ted and Jordan have been cranking out some killer pork belly "blt" sliders, some duck confit with miatake and peaches, and some amazing baby back ribs crusted with popcorn and chicharrones served with sweet potato salad. Hard to keep those in stock.
Also, the big news is, OUR KITCHEN IS OPEN UNTIL 1 AM, 7 nights a week.
That's it for now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


So I am a wreck this week after a hectic SF cocktail week schedule of events, with an unreasonable amount of work and an unadvisable amount of drinking. 
I'd like to thank Mr. Eben Freeman for coming out and mixing up some concoctions for the lucky few who were able to make it out to the Haight. Got to try some really great infusions and cocktails featuring rum from the kind folks at Ron Zacapa, and some Sagatiba cachaca jams as well. 
It was great to have some out-of-town talent around to share the excitement surrounding a robust scene of local bars and restaurants who are truly doing world class work right here in SF.
I hope that this cocktail week can grow to bring even more of that around, as I feel it is a chance to showcase our work and share ideas and inspiration with a more national and international audience.
I'd also like to thank Erik Ellestad and all who joined us for a bustling Savoy Stomp on Sunday night. It's rewarding to see so many people taking chances on some interesting cocktails and celebrating the history of the craft. We appreciate the support (and the patience).
So now as I turn to Alka-Seltzer, Ibuprofen, and bed rest for a day or two, I am starting to ponder some summertime concoctions to try out.
This week, might see some smoked ginger margarita, rhubarb and pink peppercorn rickeys,  cardamom-rose petal-cachaca-lemonade, who knows.... Got to finish laundry first.
Check out the twitter to find out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New, new, new....

Dublin Dr. P

Strawberry Alarm Clock

Blue Steel

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Things to come...

So I am finally getting around to working on some new cocktails for the menu, thought I'd share what I am working on. Sometimes it's nice to write it down and see how it feels.
Kind of inspired by our cache of Stranahan's wine cask finish, so I wanted to flesh out a Manhattan-type cocktail. Strawberries are looking pretty good right now, so I dropped a bunch in some Punt e Mes. I can tell you that the smell is incredible, I plan to puree the hell out of it and strain out the liquid, nice and thin. Looking for some elegance to this, not too chunky or rustic. I also wanted to play with some different sort of bitter, a little brighter and herbal, sort of springtime garden-esque. So I thought of parsley, and decided using a little oil to get some pretty green drops on top of the cocktail might be pretty and reference the tops of the strawberry. I blanched the parsley and pureed it with olive oil and a few drops of peppermint oil to give it a little more lift. Hopefully I'll get that all put together and post a picture later.

Another nice combination I've been playing with is fresh cucumber juice (english cukes, skin on) with Lillet blanc. I tell you, just the two elements are so delicious, I am hesitant to add much more, but I am thinking just a dash of black tea and maybe just the tiniest splash of cava to round it out. I picture pitchers of this bright green stuff.

I plan to have a few new numbers on the menu by early next week, but if you're in the neighborhood, come by and ask me. I might be able to shake something up for you.

Also, this Sunday, April 19th, is another SUNDAY SAVOY STOMP with our friend Erik Ellestad. 

I'd also like to congratulate my friend Phil on getting his new tequila bar up and running in NYC. Check out some pics here. 

When your in NYC, go visit and say hi for me.

Hope to see you soon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A shout out to distillers....

Of course, we would be in a very different business with out them.
Last night (Sunday), a very quiet night on Haight street was pleasantly interrupted by about 20 hardworking/hard drinking members of the craft distilling community crowding around the bar for some food and drinks. Fun group, they polished off quite a few "whatever you feel like making" which was a bit of a gymnastic routine, but the real gem was a few small, unmarked bottles of some very interesting, one of a kind, never-to-be-released, experiments. Among the tastes being passed out was a candy cap mushroom infusion (like an earthy maple syrup, delicious), an aged sunchoke distillate, a blend of single village mezcals aged in french oak, a tasty cherry cordial.
I really appreciate the sort of individuals who throw this crazy stuff into a still, barrel, bottle just for the hell of it. Thanks to all, it's a pleasure having your stuff on the shelf.
Bless America, and please stop making absinthe.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Two of a kind...

So I've been playing around this afternoon and finally came up with some drinks for Sundays dinner.
It's kinda tough doing pairings, especially when dealing with complex dishes. I always find it difficult to balance the cocktail against the dish, with out one sort of taking the lead.
A pairing should be just that, a pair. They make sense together, and bring out some qualities in one another. Put a big drink next to a svelte dish, however and it just looks fat.
Not that each cocktail needs to be menu-bound or even menu-worthy, but each needs to stand alone as complete. (I doubt any of these would make it onto our list.)
That being said, it is a nice excercise in restraint and focus, yeilding some surprising flavor combinations that I would like to explore further. (wish I'd brought my camera today)
1. Honey and hot mustard. I was really just fooling around with this, finding it perhaps a bit campy for my taste, but I was pleasantly surprised at the balance of sweet and astringency, with a light, spicy, but not hot finish. The mustard really cleaned up the palate, making it quite food friendly. I plan to pair this with a pork belly, crawfish, uni, and ramen dish in a very simple pork stock, so I mixed it with some Dickel 12 yr whiskey and a little dash of bitters for a little cinnamon note. Result: A somewhat rich, sweetish, nutty old fashioned that mimicks the sweet, fattiness of the food while helping to cut it. I'm gonna have to put the mustard through some other trials, or find some similiar products to toy with.
2. Sometimes I find myself starting with a taste or ingredient and trying to put it back together from it's parts. I wanted an earthy berry or tart melon flavor for a cocktail, but nothing turning me on. Answer: I mixed a little Clear Creek Framboise (for the earthy funk), with some California port (for a little body, and some bright berry fruit), dash of grapefruit (for a touch of bitterness and tartness), and a little sugar to sweeten it up. It was showing pretty well, my little franken-fruit. To help lighten it and give a little more acid, just a shot of sparkling wine. It's a nice drink, kind of big and floral nose, but dry. Probably the toughest pairing, with yellowtail two ways, asparagus, eggs, avocado. Definitely turned on by the framboise/port combination. I think more and more how to smuggle a little earthiness into a cocktail without being bottom heavy.

The others are pretty simple, yet effective little haiku's:
Mezcal, ginger, lime with Abalone yakatori
Aquavit, maraschino, sweet vermouth, lemon, tea with Squid stuffed with blood sausage.
Chilled shot of Jewel of Russia vodka with the tiniest drip of hibiscus and rose water alongside Pt. Reyes oysters and caviar.

It's nice to play and ponder.... but alas, back to work. Hope to see you Sunday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In the pipe.....

So we've been awful busy lately, doing some spring cleaning (mostly removing pesky graffiti from the bathrooms and other such tasks), and planning for some fun stuff.

First of all, THIS SUNDAY, MARCH 29th:

Another Sunday Supper at Alembic featuring local seafood paired with cocktails (stay with this blog to watch me fumble trying to put those together over the next few days).

On the plate, we will have Mendocino sea urchin, Monterrey squid and sardines, Point Reyes oysters, Sacramento caviar, Santa Cruz abalone. It's going to be fantastic.

Might also want to save the date for a special event at the Red Vic next door....

On April 7th, starting at 6pm, there will be a fund raiser for Pie Ranch, who are helping with our garden. Magnolia beer, Alembic snacks will be served and there will be a screening of the documentary King Corn. Come by, have some food, drinks, get a peek at the garden. It's for a good cause.

Check out to find out more about the organization.

Also of note, come check out some new arrivals on our whiskey shelf...

We've got Michter's 25 year old bourbon and rye in, a bunch of Willet single barrel selections, a full, albeit limited, selection of Van Winkle labels back in, the ever elusive Old Portrero 18th century and straight rye bottlings. And last, but possibly most exciting, a very limited release of some Stranahan's Colorado malt whiskey. We split a barrel with D&M liquors of the Grand Mesa, aged two years in heavily charred, new American oak, and finished for 8 months in used French oak wine barrels. Big and delicious. Get it while it lasts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Look out, this Sunday, it's back!

Swimming in the Savoy, with your trusted lifegaurds Daniel and Erik.

March 22nd, 3pm till........

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New stuff in the barrel.....

In addition to our abnormally large selection of barrel aged offerings, we're growing herbs and vegetables as well! Super excited about this, keep you posted on what is growing and how it lands on the plate and in the glass.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Thank you Evan Zimmerman, for some kick ass cocktails. You're welcome back anytime.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Stomp through the Savoy....

Sunday the 25th.

Erik Ellestad and myself.

Hundreds of cocktails to choose from.

Some of them are good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Last Sunday....

Crispy fried tripe and young artichoke, roasted garlic meyer lemon aioli

Roasted sweetbreads, cippolini, tart apple glaze

Blood sausage crepinette, salsa verde, pimenton potato

Pig brain croquette, caper brown butter, radish, cornichon

ankimo, sea urchin, vegetable escabeche, shiso

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It takes balls, guts, and a little brains....

Coming up this Sunday 1/11/2009 at 3pm....
Another fabulous Sutton Sunday Supper:
Tempura Pig Brains
Crispy Fried Tripe with Artichoke
Beef Heart Tataki
Tart Apple Glazed Sweetbreads
Monkfish Liver with Sea Urchin
Cod Testicle Crudo
Boudin Noir in Crepinette
paired with 2006 Rattlesnake Rose, 2003 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, 2004 Syrah Ramondo Vineyard, La Solera dessert wine.
This is gonna be a blast!