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Friday, August 15, 2014

Drink of the Week: Haven is Real

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Yuzu Sour cocktail - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Yuzu Sour cocktail

Last call: with this 142nd column, almost three years worth of drinking and writing Drink of the Week, it’s time for me to give up my seat at the bar. Thanks for reading and drinking along with me here, and keep an eye out for new drinks and adventures on my twitter feed and other articles here on SF Weekly. Cheers!

I always love finding places that are creating menus where the bar and kitchen work to create a holistic experience. The cocktails work with the food (not an easy feat), and the food is designed with higher-octane drinks in mind. Maven in the Haight has been doing that for a while now, going as far as designing its menu as a matrix with suggested pairings of beer, wine, and cocktails for each dish. Newly opened Dirty Habit built its whole concept around that unified vision, as did The European.

click to enlarge Chicken liver mousse - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Chicken liver mousse
In the East Bay, Haven is doing it too, with a new bar bites menu from new chef Charlie Parker. Available in the bar, lounge, and patio, the menu does something different: It shifts nightly, not just seasonally. Chef Parker designs the bar menu to utilize the best of what comes into the kitchen, much like he does for the dinner menu, but with bolder flavors. On my visit, there was a generous and beautifully plated chicken liver mousse ($11 served with figs and a tower of grilled bread), and an ocean-fresh salmon tartare ($9 served with house made crackers and a jalapeño cream cheese).

On the cocktail side, general manager Bobi Adle and chef Parker collaborate with Plum Bar’s John Peterson and Ron Boyd (who also oversees the kitchens at all of Daniel Patterson’s restaurants). The group effort yields some deliciously odd drinks, like the carbonated-to-order Alameda ($9, vodka, mezcal, cachaca, sloe gin). The ingredient list reads like a teenager’s concoction made to drag race into inebriation, but the mixture plays out elegantly, lightly sweet and tart with just enough mezcal and cane flavors. The carbonation gives it an aperitif lightness that can stand up to the liver mousse’s richness.
The carbonated Alameda cocktail - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • The carbonated Alameda cocktail
click to enlarge Glazed chicken wings - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Glazed chicken wings
One dish I hope takes a more permanent spot on the menu is the glazed chicken wings ($11), which came stacked in a shallow bowl with chunks of nectarine and haricort vert. The crisp fried chicken was doused in a sweet and spicy sauce that soaked into the skin without becoming soggy. A thick, cumin-spiced yogurt sauce helped pacify the chile heat, and the green beans and fruit cleansed the palate. And for those who are fans, the wings include the tips.

Any drink that uses their fantastic housemade ginger beer should be tried at least once, but on this sunny evening, it was the Yuzu Sour ($9, gin, yuzu, egg white, housemade Creole bitters) that fit the mood. Tart and fragrant with a lush texture, it was the perfect way to end the night and raise a glass to the talented chef and bar staff. Just like Haven.

Yuzu Sour

2 oz. Gin
1 oz. Yuzu juice
1 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Egg whites

Peychaud Bitters (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake hard for seven seconds and strain into a coupe glass or martini glass. Garnish the foamy top with dashes of Peychauds Bitters.

Haven, 44 Webster, Oakland, (510) 663-4440.

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