Led by bar manager Jay Crabb who worked extensively with consulting barman Scott Beattie, the menu and drinks reflect both of their influences. The hand-cut ice, edible flowers, and unique produce is very clearly Beattie, where some of the creative combinations and use of exotic spirits is very much Crabb. Both of these talents mesh into the Apricot-Plum Pisco Sour ($11, Encatnto Pisco, Jelinek Slivovitz Plum Brandy, apricot liqueur, lime, egg white, bitters) a playful and delicious twist on the classic pisco drink.
Starting off with a basic Pisco sour, Crabb began experimenting with the spirits, first trying aged cognac style brandies, but wasn't getting something he loved. "I came across Slvovitz -- a plum brandy produced throughout Central Europe -- I knew I was on to something," says Crabb. "Splitting the base spirit between Pisco and Slivovitz created a complex and exciting layering of flavors."
The spirit-driven drinks section is where the large format ice comes in, like in the Drunk Monk ($10.50, rye whiskey, vermouth, Benedictine, absinthe, bitters), and it feels appropriately solid and strong.
The bar is very much in Crabb's care, but Beattie's influence will remain in the drinks. Sitting at the bar with Crabb working behind it, the care and service oriented manner is another part of what makes him so great. And no he's not new, he's just been working his way along the Peninsula and East Bay at places like Bocanova and the Walnut Creek Yacht Club. "It was while in Walnut Creek that my eyes were really opened," he says. With a kitchen program that flowed and influenced the bar, the drink menu included house-made ingredients, fresh vegetable juices, aged cocktails, and anything else they could dream up.
What's best is that even if you're not a cocktail geek, you will enjoy the drinks. But if you are, you might find yourself in downtown Berkeley a lot more often.
Apricot-Plum Pisco Sour
1 oz. Encanto Pisco
½ oz. Jelinek Slivovitz Plum Brandy
¾ oz. Rothman & Winters Orchard Apricot Liqueur
½ oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
¼ oz. Egg white
Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice and dry shake (shake without ice) for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake again, then double strain into frozen coupe glass.
Garnish the drink with four drops of aromatic house bitters and 3 edible flower leaves placed into foamy surface of the drink.
BUILD Pizzeria Roma, 2286 Shattuck (at Bancroft), Berkeley, 510-898-1839