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Friday, April 20, 2012

Drink of the Week: The Nauti' Mermaid at Maven

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Nauti' Mermaid with the Monterey Calamari - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Nauti' Mermaid with the Monterey Calamari
Wine and beer have been natural companions with food for centuries, cocktails are notoriously challenging to pair (with the odd exception, like Margaritas and Mexican food). Higher alcohol can wreck havoc on delicate flavors, and the higher acidity typical of juice-based drinks can throw a meal off balance. Even with a move to sherry and lower alcohol cocktails, things don't always work as well as a glass of wine. But just because it doesn't usually work doesn't mean it can't be done well.

At Maven, bar manager Kate Bolton does an impressive job working with the kitchen, led by co-owner David Kurtz, to ensure that flavors and textures find a complementary balance. The Global Warming ($11, aged gin, sake, reisling, absinthe sorbet) has tart and herbal quality that sets off the shiso and apple in the Scallop Crudo ($12) making the dish even more impressive, as does the after-dinner drink and the dessert duo of the Beach & Hyde ($9, Four Roses Bourbon, Firelit Coffee Liqueur, vanilla, egg white, orange) paired with the Mayan Chocolate ($6, chocolate cake with cardamom ice cream).

As great as those are, it's the Nauti' Mermaid ($10, Jamaican rum, lime, orange, coconut, hazelnut orgeat) with the recommended Monterey Calamari ($9, with Thai chili), that is the most remarkable combination. The Nauti' Mermaid is bright with citrus and thick with coconut and house made hazelnut syrup, that tastes like a delightful cross between a Mai Tai and a Piña Colada (minus the pineapple). The spicy bite of the chili heat in the calamari meets the cooling solace of the drink, a combination that brings out the best in each other.

While co-owner Jay Bordeleau has designed a beer and wine list for the cocktail-with-dinner skeptics or those looking to be sensible and not have a drink with each course, it's the seamless integration of the cocktails and food that shouldn't be missed.

Maven, 598 Haight (at Steiner), 562-8365

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