Scrambling to sweep the floors and put the finishing touches on the newest bar to hit the Mission, Trick Dog Bar opened its doors on schedule at 3 p.m. yesterday to a crowd of anxious imbibers.
The bi-level space offers spots along the bar, a counter along the back, and tables upstairs for a more relaxed and cozy setting. The reclaimed industrial décor and the playful Pantone cocktail menu certainly make Trick Dog Bar all the more endearing -- but how did the goods measure up?
I couldn't resist the namesake Pantone cocktail. Four Roses bourbon, Combier, Kummel, beet, ginger and lemon produced a drink strikingly similar in hue to the deep maroon card itself. Never before have I felt healthier while drinking as the beets and ginger took center stage, but the bourbon wasn't shy about making its presence known. The Kummel (a liquor made with caraway, cumin and fennel) lent a subtle yet noticeable touch of Middle Eastern flair.
The Vintage Photo followed along the same spice trial, using "West Indies tincture" to introduce flavors of nutmeg, clove and allspice, mellowed out with Trick Dog banana cordial - and a flavor I was expecting to be synthetic instead tasted surprisingly natural. The aroma was reminiscent of a classic rum cocktail, but the flavor was much more complex.
A more tropical offering came in the St. Elmo's Fire: Denizen white rum, Amaro Averna, pineapple, coconut vinegar, allspice, and lime. Fruity and sweet, it was cut ever so slightly with the coconut vinegar so the sugar wasn't too overwhelming.
The Baby Turtle was a surprise favorite, blending an adorable name with tequila, Campari, grapefruit, cinnamon, lime and egg white. The foamy, creamy concoction was hid a bitter bite, and one too many may turn the baby turtle into a snapping one.
The Polar Bear -- Pierde Almas Puritita mezcal, Dolin blanc vermuth, Tempus Fugit crème de menthe -- hits in three distinct ways: smoke, mint, and brightness, culminating in an a surprisingly well-balanced drink tame enough for mezcal newbies but refined enough for the diehard fanatics.
Yet Trick Dog Bar is no one trick pony. A bevy of bar bites is available to accompany the cocktails. Scotch eggs, a kale salad, French fries, olives and nuts are among the offerings. Two that caught my attention were the deep fried pork belly bites that melted away beneath the light coating of breadcrumbs, as well as the Peruvian popcorn made with maize kernels, which tasted more like crunchy nuts sprinkled with herbs and spices than your everyday movie theater fare.
Other intriguing concepts include an entire sober section as well as spirit and chaser combinations. And while the bottled beer selection is minimal, is anyone really going there for beer?
Open fewer than 24 hours and merely in its infancy, Trick Dog Bar proved on opening that it has what it takes to be a staple for years to come. With over 2,000 colors in the Pantone system, the menu has nearly infinite was to change, adapt, play, and color the town.