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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Farm Fresh Cocktails at Hog & Rocks

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM

The Calabria ($11, Old Grandad 114 Bourbon, bergamot, honey, Averna, ginger beer) - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • The Calabria ($11, Old Grandad 114 Bourbon, bergamot, honey, Averna, ginger beer)
Hog & Rocks has always featured an interesting selection of classic cocktails, but now it boasts some serious talent behind the bar. This past fall, chef Scott Youkilis hired famed bartender Scott Beattie to design a new cocktails and menu for both Hog & Rocks and his upcoming BBQ spot across the street called Hi-Lo.

With the transition to a new menu complete, guided by bar manager Michael Lazar, the Hog & Rocks crew is keeping the focus on the food. Lazar explained that, "There's really little sense in trying to drive the cocktail program into directions that run counter to the dining experience most folks come here to have. Folks coming here are focused on beverages which support the their dining experience-- we're not yet a cocktail destination as such."

click to enlarge Michael Lazar, Bar Manager - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Michael Lazar, Bar Manager
That doesn't mean that they're going to hold back. "We're bringing an 'A game' to the cocktail program," said Lazar. The drinks are sophisticated but approachable.

The Calabria and Coastal Collins, two of the original drinks on the menu, are as visually striking as they are delicious. Lazar's Calabria gets its complexity from the Italian bitter liqueur Averna, which adds just a hint of herbal bitterness, while Beattie's Coastal Collins is a woodland quencher made fragrant by St. George Spirits Terroir Gin.
click to enlarge The Coastal Collins ($10.50, St. George Terroir Gin, lemon, soda, bay laurel, huckleberries) - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • The Coastal Collins ($10.50, St. George Terroir Gin, lemon, soda, bay laurel, huckleberries)

"They'll find both artisanal-class originals from Scott Beattie and myself along with a number of classics tweaked just enough to make them unique to the program," said Lazar. The standards like the gin and tonic gets a seasonal twist with house made tonic (from bartender Maxine "Sharkey" Giammo) that uses local herbs and fruits, and the margarita is heady with meyer lemons.

The cocktail program is still developing. "As we continue to take measure of his [chef Youkilis] sensibilities around food, we become better and better able to bring choices that support 'what's for dinner' into the overall program," said Lazar. With a growing American whiskey and beer selection and new seasons to explore, there's a lot to look forward to at Hog & Rocks.

Hog & Rocks, 3431 19th St. (at San Carlos), 550-8627

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
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