I'm not much of a bar fly. Mostly, I take my drink in quiet settings, maybe a wine bar, a restaurant, home. And except for the occasional Jack Rose Mr. Food Musings or his dad whips up, I stick to wine.
But last night I saw the light. And it was coming out of a small, narrow bar-and-restaurant in the upper Haight called The Alembic.
San Francisco drinkers are already pretty hip to the spot, but still the group that assembled, including more than a few food bloggers, industry folks, and professional food writers, were mostly Alembic virgins. [insert crude Maraschino cherry joke here]
First I enjoyed a Power Suit. Partly because I am one again (though I refuse to own one) and partly because I'm a sucker for anything with Hangar One Kaffir Lime vodka. This plum-colored drink combined said vodka with ginger beer and zinfandel port. It sounded sort of...horrible. But I got it anyway, and then sucked down a few more. Dee-lish.
Next up was a Pisco Sour, with Peru's famed spirit, egg whites for fizz, lime juice and sugar. I liked the sour overtones but after a few sips, the smell of the egg whites was turning my tummy rather sour, so I threw in the towel and had my friend order me a custom concoction. My only request was to make it spicy.
What I got was a jumbo martini glass filled with cranberry-colored liquid and a twist of orange. It combined Maker's Mark bourbon with white creme de cacao, and enough tabasco sauce to make me sit up straight on the bar stool a full two minutes later. Yowza! The bartender (whose name I forgot, dammit, that's what drinking until 1 a.m. does to your manners) called it "sexual chocolate."
Permit me to break into song: "What a girl wants, what a girl needs...."
I suppose I should mention the other bartender (Daniel, that one) whipped up another few fabulous custom-made specialties, one with a bunch of stuff I'd never heard of, like nocino, an Italian walnut liqueur. I should probably also mention how much I wish I'd ordered a second bowl of the housemade spaetzle with rabbit and bacon and mushrooms, and taken it home to eat right before bed. Or for breakfast this morning. Or for every meal for the rest of my life.
So, how much fun was the Alembic? They sent us off with a nightcap (on the house!) made with pear eau de vie. I got home with a brand new pair of purple high heels that buckle around the ankle (don't worry, I paid for them) and one of my friends woke up this morning to find she was still wearing her clothes from last night.
Alembic, we love you!