5 Indian Summer Cocktails that the Drapers Would Die For

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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 sunshine.  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. King’s Lemonade – Woodford Reserve Rye, fresh lemon juice, basil syrup, strawberry puree 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. Cool Desire – Grey Goose vodka, passion frut puree, mint syrup, champagne 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. Sandìa Amara – (this is the only drink I did not try) – Avion Silver Tequila, Aperol, Watermelon puree, fresh lime juice, agave, chili-salt no the rim Raspberry Sour – Absolut Elyx vodka, fresh lime juice, ginger syrup, fresh raspberries, Chambord float This was my favorite of the evening, where fresh raspberries were muddled through the shaking process making the drink.  The piquantness of the fresh lime juice plays well with the sweet ginger syrup and Chambourd. Clift Painkiller – Bacardi 8 rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, nutmeg A play on the traditional piña colada, a Painkiller is a great alternative for someone like […]

Nectar of the Gods and other tales from the Navy

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A couple of Saturdays ago, I decided to head on over to St. George Spirits, home of Hangar 1 vodka and other delights, for their annual Holiday Open House.  For those of you who don’t know, St. George Spirits is housed in the old Alameda Naval Air Station, in, well, Hangar number 1.  The best part of the trip over there, other than the delicious libations, is the unobstructed view over the old airfield, to the cityscape beyond. When I RSVP’ed for this event, I decided to go for the whole shebang – tasting the traditional offerings of vodka and Eau de Vies, but also included the special bottlings of brandies as well as the mescal and absinthe.  I’m not sure how much I can tell you about the latter, but I have plenty to say about the amazing vodkas and other clear liquors!  It started out with 3 inventive cocktails, made from the offerings we were going to taste.  But first, you should hear the story. St George Spirits began over twenty years ago, by a German emigrant that found a new home in San Francsico.  Jörg Rupf began educating the American palate as to the virtues and beauty of finely crafted eau de vie., or the Water of Life.  The story of St. George Spirits really starts with the Eu de Vie, which in many cultures is th eonly way to make the fruits of summer last forever.  It all starts with the source fruits, which have to be the best examples.  The examples I tasted at the open house truely were the cream of the crop, and were luscious libations of the first class. Aqua Perfecta is the name of the fruit brandies that St. George produces.  The word brandy here really does not bear any relationship to the sticky sweet concoctions that many American’s associate iwth the drink.  These are the essence of the fruit, suspende din fire water, which will warm you even on the coldest of days. The Pear Eau de Vie tastes of deep buttery pears, with just a touch of spice.  It is made with over 15 pounds of pears in each bottle and it really shows!  The fruit itself comes from local sources in Northern California, and the essense tastes of pears that have been poaches and pureed. The Framboise tastes exactly like the essense of raspberries you would expect it too.  One sniff, and you are transported to the fields of the Northwest, with powerful berry aromas and intense berry flavors.  You would never mistake this for another liquor.  This would be amazing over ice cream, with some fresh berries sprinkled on top. This is probably the most traditional of the spirits offered, other than the plain vodka.  This Kirsch is one of the most difficult to perfect, since it is a spirit loved the world over.  The cherry flavor is tinged with an almond essense, which is developed from the fermenting pits.  The cherries used to make this spirit […]