When the E&O Trading Company was being relaunched as E&O Asian Kitchen this past summer with a complete remodel, refreshed menu by chef Arnold Eric Wong, and bar overhaul by bar manager Carlos Yturria, the whole thing made sense. Both worked together in similar roles at Baccar back in 2001, and Yturria's surfer boy style and 17 years of experience means the tropical Asian-ish cocktails come across as genuine, and more importantly, damn good.
The list of a dozen cocktails includes one of the biggest and tastiest versions of a Mai Tai ($14, Brugal Añejo Ron, Smith & Cross Rum, Gosling's Rum, Grand Marnier, housemade orgeat, lime), spirit-forward aperitifs like the lightly sweet and bitter New Frontier ($11, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Avèze Liqueur, maple bitters), and refreshing Papasan ($11, Rittenhouse Rye, blackberry shrub, lemon, seltzer water). Perhaps influenced by the impromptu coconut water tasting Yturria had held for patrons at the bar (to demonstrate the differences in flavor between packaged and fresh coconut water), The Black Pearl ($12, Matusalem Rum, coconut water, velvet falernum, crème de violet) really stood out.
Teetering carefully between classic and tropical, it was incredibly drinkable and exotic. Lying underneath the pearlescent drink, like treasure inside Davey Jones' locker, is a small black bauble of crème de violet. The orb was formed and held in place by the magic of specific gravity, where heavier liquids stay separate from lighter ones, and even halfway through the drink, it took swirling a straw through it to free it from the depths of the glass.
Add one of the best happy hours around (Monday-Saturday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) with a special menu that includes $1 oysters and vegi dumplings, chicken satay ($2), grilled tamarind pork spare rib ($2.50), and $6 cocktails plundered straight from normal menu, and now you found your new hideout.
The Black Pearl
1 ½ oz. Metusalem White Rum
¾ oz. velvet falernum
1 ¼ oz. coconut water
¾ oz. lime
Shake, fine strain, and serve up. Garnish with 1/2 bar spoon of
crème de violet
E&O Asian Kitchen, 314 Sutter (at Grant), 693-03030