There were close to a dozen glasses in front of me, nearly the entire cocktail menu at the newly opened Padrecito in Cole Valley, all sitting in various states of consumption. The wave of drinks crested with the newest cocktails up front, the older and emptier ones ebbing towards the back, while the sea of liquor pushed and pulled like the tide. But two had beached themselves close to me, and despite my better judgment, I was close to finishing them.
I notice my personal telltale sign that the tipsy riptide was pulling me out to sea as I "lose" my phone in one of my own pockets (you fiend!). I fight the current's pull with an order of the Chicharrones with Fava Bean Sikil Pak dip ($9), but those two cocktails were so gorgeously bright and sparkly with citrus, that I couldn't help wading back in for "re-tasting" dip.
The Dia De Los Muertos ($10, Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch, yellow chartreuse, Cocchi Americano, lemon) and Pasa Tiempo ($8, Tanquerey Rangpur Lime Gin, celery syrup, lime, parsley, mint) are totally different yet each has a wonderful swell of citrus that cleanses and refreshes with each sip.
While in theory, a scotch drink like the Dias De Los Muertos (a riff on a Corpse Reviver #2) wouldn't make sense in a Mexican restaurant, bar manager David Ruiz concocts a cocktail that is citrusy without being too tart, and far too easygoing but with enough complexity to keep it interesting. It reminded me of what a lemon drop might be like with some wisdom and grey hairs.
The Pasa Tiempo is verdant and lime-focused, deliciously bright and clean, with gin and celery adding more fruit than vegetal flavors. The cocktail's parley and mint further enhance its cooling freshness, making it a welcome companion to the spicier fare. It's a perfect drink for those who want a refreshing drink like a margarita, but have been scarred by Spring Breaks past in Mexico.
What's most impressive is how fast out of the gate the bar seems to have its groove with a concise yet diverse menu and well-balanced cocktails at reasonable prices (most drinks in the $8-$9) for the kind of venue. You'll expect and get tequila and mezcal drinks, which the menu features like in the wildly popular and Copa Verde ($9, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, cilantro, lime, chipotle powder). Ruiz does a great job featuring most major spirits, keeping in the Mexican theme with careful use of south of the border ingredients without being predictable.
The careful work spent developing the recipes and testing them out with Padrecito bartenders along with Churchill bartender Patrick Johnson in the "Office" bar above Churchill shows. It's a great menu, fun restaurant bar, and destination worthy drinks, right off the N Muni line -- the best lifeguard to pull you out if you get swept out to the tipsy sea.
2 oz. Tanquerey Rangpur Lime Gin
1 oz. Celery- turbinado sugar syrup
¾ oz. Lime juice
1 oz. Seltzer water
Place two parsley sprigs and a few fresh mint leaves to shaker, add lime, celery syrup, and gin, then ice and shake hard. Fine strain into Collins glass and top with one ounce seltzer. Fill with ice then garnish with a thin lime wheel mint and parsley.
Padrecito, 901 Cole (at Carl), 742-5505