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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Orson's Ian Adams, S.F.'s Newest Bartender to Watch

Posted By on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 5:05 PM

click to enlarge Ian Adams, Orson's new talent behind the stick. - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Ian Adams, Orson's new talent behind the stick.

Orson first drew me through its doors 3 years ago when it opened, back when Jackie Patterson was running the bar show. It was a time when Patterson was honing her personal style and gaining accolades for her original creations. A highlight of the Patterson era was the first Bourbon and Bacon dinner during Cocktail Week in 2008, a staggering seven-course/seven-cocktail chunk of piggy awesomeness ― no surprise when you consider that, besides Jackie behind the bar, there was Luis Villavelazquez (Les Elements) as pastry chef, Ryan Farr (4505 Meats) as chef de cuisine (serving his now famous chicharrones as an amuse), and chef Elizabeth Falkner herself in the house, making the magic happen.

Since then, the bar has had its ups and downs. Lately, new bar manager Ian Adams has been quietly creating new and inspired cocktails, making Orson S.F.'s most exciting undiscovered bar gem. SFoodie featured The Kitchen last week, and rightly so: Adams' herbaceous drink is both refreshing and restorative. Personally, the drink we have a hard time not ordering is Ichi the Killer, a combination of rye whiskey, Torani amer, pomegranate-pink peppercorn syrup, Peychaud's bitters, and a flamed orange peel.

click to enlarge The Kitchen, Adams' herbaceous cooler. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • The Kitchen, Adams' herbaceous cooler.

Taking full advantage of Orson's pastry department, Adams crafts some really interesting flavor combinations. The Tabla Beet Science, which he created for a Scharffenberger event, combines bourbon, beet-peach gastrique, and Angostura-bruléed Manhattan beets. Assistance for Adams' syrups and compotes comes from 19-year-old prodigy pastry chef Maya Erickson. If you have any doubt about the amount of ass she can kick, try her Breakfast of Champions dessert: cinnamon toast ice cream with chunks of caramel French toast mixed in.

Adams got his start as a barback at L.A.'s Viper Room, where he picked up work between trumpet gigs and attending music school. "The trumpet playing and bartending are very much intertwined," he tells SFoodie. "I have always told people that I fell in love with bartending when I discovered how similar it was to performance art: create something, interact with your audience, and sell your product." Consider us sold.

Orson: 508 Fourth St. (at Bryant), 777-1508.

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie.

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