Sour beers are full of flavor with a refreshing tang replacing the more usual bitterness of hoppy ales. If you aren’t sure where to begin with sour beers, ask the barkeep of any bar with a good beer list for a recommendation. Hi-Lo Club on Polk Street has several great options, including Bellegems Bruin pictured above. The Jug Shop on Russian Hill has four glorious shelves of sour brews, including Pink Drank, an aged sour beer from Oakland made with cherries that has a complex, woody/sour taste.
This year’s unusually sunny and warm weather in San Francisco is making me crave tropical cocktails. Since Smuggler’s Cove isn’t open for breakfast, (I’m a big fan of eye-opener cocktails on the weekends,) I came up with a tiki cocktail of my own that is easy to make and refreshing on hot days.
Bay Summer Cocktail No. 1
1 oz Don Q silver rum
1/2 oz Kraken dark rum
1/2 oz Chartreuse
2 oz Pineapple juice
1/2 oz Lime juice
1 tsp Homemade aprium preserves (The apriums I used have a strong jasmine note when cooked into preserves, but you could substitute high quality apricot jam.)
1 Small apricot, chopped
Dash of aromatic bitters
Muddle the preserves and apricot in a cocktail shaker. Add all other ingredients plus ice and shake until frothy and chilled. Serve with an apricot slice garnish.
One of the bartenders at Hi-Lo recommended The Last Word to me the other night, and I had forgotten what a lovely, bracing drink it is. I decided to make one for myself this morning, as the invigorating nature of the drink makes it a great eye-opener cocktail. While The Last Word usually calls for lime juice, I only have lemons on hand. I have to say the difference is barely noticeable underneath the assertive herbiness of the Chartreuse.
The Last Word
(These are the proportions I prefer and are not necessarily true to the classic. Some recipes call for equal parts of all ingredients, but I just can’t drink that much Luxardo.)
1 oz Hendrick’s gin
3/4 oz Chartreuse
1/4 oz Luxardo
Juice of one fresh lemon
Shake all ingredients with ice until very cold and strain into a cocktail glass.
I never knew what to do with rhubarb before I started putting it in cocktails. This Spring, like the one before and several before that, I made a rhubarb-strawberry gastrique to use in drinks. While gastriques are heavy on the vinegar, the final flavor isn’t identifiable as vinegar. The vinegar simply takes all of the other flavors up to 11. The gastrique is easy to make: one cup sugar, half cup water, half cup vinegar (I used apple cider.) Bring everything to a boil, add in chopped fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs, and simmer for ten minutes. Strain out solids before using.
1 1/2 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
1 oz rhubarb-strawberry gastrique
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 large mint leaves, torn into pieces
Shake all ingredients with ice in shaker until very cold. Strain into an ice filled glass and garnish with mint.