5 Indian Summer Cocktails that the Drapers Would Die For

Redwood Room

The back bar at the Redwood Room

Walking through the doors of the historic Clift Hotel in San Francisco, you can almost smell the years of cigar smoke and high powered financial deals that linger in the wood lined lobby.  Long the bastion of high powered deal making, the Clift opened it’s doors in 1913 by Frederick Clift on a family property, to serve the Pan Pacific Exposition.

Build to survive earthquake and fire, it still stands with the 1924 expansion of three additional floors.  At the time, it was the largest hotel in the state, and today, while it is now owned by the Morgans Hotel Group, it still remains much the same as when it initially opened.

The dark and brooding Redwood Room cocktail lounge feels like you are stepping back in history, with modern touches.  So named for the rich redwood panelled walls, and imposing etched glass and wood bar all pull us back to the original hotel’s glamour and clientele.  Enhancing to the unique flair, the Redwood Room boasts digital art work that will change when you are least expecting it – reminding me of a scene out of the cult movie Clue.

Clift’s famous and hanging array of digital artwork displayed on plasma television screens hung throughout the room. Snack on gourmet bites while sipping on delicious cocktails and enjoying curated music provided by well-known native San Francisco DJs along with world-class talent Thursday through Saturday nights.,

Master Mixologist Anthony Kim created the inventive and refreshing cocktail list just in time for Indian Summer, which is when us San Franciscians traditionally get some suIMG_1685nshine.  Using the freshest ingredients, these 5 cocktails represent traditional drinks that you might find in any bar, but with a twist of fresh, bright, and unique flavors.

A bit like a mai tai, this drink was named for two kings:  Bourbon, and basil.  This was my 2nd favorite of the night, because, naturally I love bourbon, and the addition of strawberries and basil adds a savory but sweet note that hits the spot.

A mimosa that is splashing out to play, the passion fruit and mint play off of each other in a dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, while the vodka adds a cool touch.  A smooth and refreshing aperitif.

With a Blade & Bow – History in a glass

Recently, the good folks at Diageo invited me to experience the re-launch of an iconic brand:  Blade & Bow.  Unique in it’s production technique, using a Solera system that is classical used for Sherry in Spain, no year is a single vintage. Instead, it is an ever evolving blend of many vintages as they tumble down the cascading pyramid of the solera.  In this case, the Blade & Bow solera is 5 barrels, with the oldest being from the original Stitzel distillery where blade & bow was originally born.


Stitzl-Weller was founded in 1935 in Louisville, and was distilling continuously until 1992.  When they shut down, the bourbon stock was sill aging, and therefore made it possible to create the oldest solera tiers that are available today.  The 22 year old Limited Release is a blend whiskies, distilled at both the historic location at 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville, Ky. and another historic distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, creating this complex beauty.  This blend is then aged and bottled at Stitzel-Weller.

A beautiful expression of caramel, brown sugar, baked apples, and baking spice.  Sip this beauty straight, or make a killer Manhattan!  It’s fairly hard to put the glass down once you start drinking this sexy little number, and on these foggy summer nights, I am happy to have my little friend. $150


  I’ll Take Manhattain (with a Bow)

2 oz. Blade & Bow 22 Year old
.25 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Bob’s Abbot’s Bitters
1 Dash Fee Brother’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1/2 dash Aged Citrus Bitters
1/2 Dash Meyer Lemon Bitters

Shake over ice and strain in to a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a slice of lemon and a bourbon soaked cherry.  The Aztec Chocolate adds a sweet richness, while the lemon garnish adds enough acid IMG_9090to make the flavors pop.   This is a treat that you will get addicted to!

For those looking for a more affordable treat, the Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is  a lighter and fresher bourbon, perfect over ice, or in your favorite cocktail.  The Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a  fine sipping bourbon, and is made from the solera stocks from Stitzel-Weller, blended with other whiskies to create the completed product.

Fresh and fruity, with notes of vanilla, fresh oranges, ripe pears, marzipan and gingerbread why not try an Old Fashioned Ginger?  $50


 Ginger Old Fashioned
2 oz Blade & Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1 oz Ginger Liquor
splash ginger beer (preferably a dry one)
dash orange bitters

Muddle 1/2 tsp of sugar with the bitters and ginger liquor.  Add ice, and top with bourbon, and ginger beer.  Garnish with an orange wedge.

 The use of the solera cask system allows Blade & Bow to carry on a tradition that was once thought to be lost, preserving some of the oldest golden nectar for future generations to come.  I highly recommend the 22-year old, and if you are out at a bar and see the Kentucky Straight, give it a shot! Pun intended, of course.


Thank you to Blade & Bow and the Diageo team for a great night of cocktails and a dinner of Southern specialties with a twist, at Dirty Habit – a peach of a bourbon bar in the heart of San Francisco.