When Daniel Hyatt left the Alembic early this year, it was difficult to image how the bar would function without him. He largely defined the innovative house cocktail style that comfortably cohabited with classics (much like the residents of the neighborhood).
One of the new bar managers, Danny Louie, worked extensively with Hyatt's during his tenure and is keeping the place humming much the same. With the help of Ethan Terry, formerly of AQ, the pair is adding their own touches and original creations. "My vision has always been to keep things whimsical and on edge without the pretension," says Louie. "I like to challenge the palate a little while keeping the other half more approachable."
See Also: Savoy Cocktail Night at Alembic
While the Louie and Terry have created some dazzling and delicious original drinks for the menu, it was their Army Navy ($11, Beefeater Gin, Small Hand Foods Orgeat, lemon, Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters) that showcased their skills for me. Lightly adjusted from David A. Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, its simplicity belied the refreshing complexity of the drink. Essentially a gin sour with bitters, this cocktail is a great example of how effective fine tuning can be on a classic cocktails.
But just because their Army Navy is so good, it doesn't mean their "New School" original cocktails should be missed. The wonderfully tropical 30 Day Notice ($11, Flor De Caña Rum, banana cordial, yellow chartreuse, lime, chili tincture) that tweaked tiki style in a uniquely herbal way. Tall and served with a metal straw, the cooling effect of the drink begins with your lips.
The Nine Volt ($11, Aviation Gin, white Sichuan pepper, white grape juice, green tea) uses an obscure variety of Sichuan pepper that has a mellower intensity and lovely pine and coriander essence that compliments the gin but doesn't overwhelm. The tongue tingling feeling is much like liking a nine-volt battery. Yes, I know what that's like. Yes, that certainly explains a lot.
The Army Navy
Based on David A. Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks adapted by Danny Louie
2 oz. Beefeater Gin
¾ oz. Small Hand Foods Orgeat
¾ oz. Lemon juice
3 dashes of Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a coupe.
Alembic, 1725 Haight (at Cole), 666-0822