At Maven, bar manager Kate Bolton does an impressive job working with the kitchen, led by co-owner David Kurtz, to ensure that flavors and textures find a complementary balance. The Global Warming ($11, aged gin, sake, reisling, absinthe sorbet) has tart and herbal quality that sets off the shiso and apple in the Scallop Crudo ($12) making the dish even more impressive, as does the after-dinner drink and the dessert duo of the Beach & Hyde ($9, Four Roses Bourbon, Firelit Coffee Liqueur, vanilla, egg white, orange) paired with the Mayan Chocolate ($6, chocolate cake with cardamom ice cream).
As great as those are, it's the Nauti' Mermaid ($10, Jamaican rum, lime, orange, coconut, hazelnut orgeat) with the recommended Monterey Calamari ($9, with Thai chili), that is the most remarkable combination. The Nauti' Mermaid is bright with citrus and thick with coconut and house made hazelnut syrup, that tastes like a delightful cross between a Mai Tai and a Piña Colada (minus the pineapple). The spicy bite of the chili heat in the calamari meets the cooling solace of the drink, a combination that brings out the best in each other.
While co-owner Jay Bordeleau has designed a beer and wine list for the cocktail-with-dinner skeptics or those looking to be sensible and not have a drink with each course, it's the seamless integration of the cocktails and food that shouldn't be missed.
Maven, 598 Haight (at Steiner), 562-8365