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Drink of the Week

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.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Drink of the Week: Enjoying the Collective Spirit at Lolinda

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Friggs Slip cocktail - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Friggs Slip cocktail

If there’s one thing you can count on when covering the bar and restaurant scene, it’s that the players will eventually change. New chefs behind the stoves draw the most attention and expectations, but for me a new bar manager is the most fascinating. New blood behind the bar keeps things fresh, but a leadership change brings the added challenge for them to balance adding their own voice to the menu while maintaining the momentum and house style.

When Chris Lane departed Lolinda last year (to eventually end up at the fantastic Ramen Shop in Oakland), and Nora Furst took over, I wondered how the bar would fare. “I was fortunate enough to inherit a beverage program that had a very well-laid framework,” says Furst. “In many ways, we've honed the menu to complement the food from chef Alejandro, and the tastes of our guests… while never forgetting that we are at our heart, a steakhouse bar.”

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Drink of the Week: Ellwood Shandy at Dirty Habit

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Ellwood Shandy - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Ellwood Shandy

It’s almost impossible to have a discussion about Dirty Habit without the issue of the name coming up. Most people hate the name because they find it unappetizing for a restaurant, though if I have any issue with it is that the restaurant and bar is just not dirty or illicit enough. Perhaps this is a measure of the depravity I find normal, but I think it’s simply a safe and clean place to grab a bite and a drink.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Drink of the Week: The City's Classiest Bar Crawl

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Vieux Carré Me Away cocktail - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Vieux Carré Me Away cocktail

We all love secret things: passages, menus, and stories. Even the most mundane gets a sheen of intrigue when it's secret, although most noteworthy when it yields something exclusive. A recent partnership between Burritt Tavern and Wingtip has revealed a secret dinner option that whisks you away and gives you and three guests access to Wingtip’s member’s only bar.

And it all starts with dinner and a drink.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Drink of the Week: Hunting with the Woodsman at Bloodhound

Posted By on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM

The Woodsman at Bloodhound is a take on the Old Fashioned. - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • The Woodsman at Bloodhound is a take on the Old Fashioned.

When Bloodhound opened in 2008 (making it 36 in dog years), that stretch of Folsom was a rather lonely one with a few outlier clubs and leather shops. The bar's success and longevity is certainly due in part to the bartending skills that owner Dylan O'Brien honed over the years, but also because it has effectively juggled the role of being both destination and neighborhood bar. As the area saw an increase of housing and office development, Bloodhound took the opportunity to offer more, like being an early supporter of the food truck movement with the Chairman and Casey's Pizza food trucks regularly setting up in front of the bar.

Since then, O'Brien has gone on to open up Prizefighter in the craft cocktail-emergent East Bay with Jon Santer. With all those changes, including a new menu (see the full menu below), I was curious if the dog could still hunt.

See also: At Prizefighter, Oaxacan Standoffs Always End Deliciously

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Plenty of Bling Without the Grillz at Casey's

Drink of the Week: The Honey Badger at Bluestem Doesn't Care If You Like It

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Drink of the Week: The Honey Badger at Bluestem Doesn't Care If You Like It

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 11:20 AM

LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
Don't let the "brasserie" portion of the name fool you; the cuisine at Bluestem is all American. Named after the preferred grazing grass of cattle ranchers, the focus of the restaurant is decidedly on beef, with marrow, steaks, and tartar showcased on the menu. The bar incorporates a few of these Americana twists as well, like the viral-video namesake, Honey Badger ($11, Maker's Mark Bourbon, honey whiskey liqueur, lemon, BBQ water).

A drink built around a whiskey sour with the inclusion of barbecue sauce and spiced rim sounds more nastyass than badass, but owners Adam and Stacy Jed's attempt to recreate the flavors of an American cookout with bourbon work. The Hoegaarden foam "stripe" like the animal adds some texture more than flavor.

See also: Jane Deere, a Macho Yet Fruity Cocktail at Bluestem Brasserie

Drink of the Week: Getting Swept Away at Padrecito

Drink of the Week: Thirsty Like the Wolf at Azucar Lounge

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Drink of the Week: Getting Swept Away at Padrecito

Posted By on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Pasa Tiempo cocktail - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Pasa Tiempo cocktail
There were close to a dozen glasses in front of me, nearly the entire cocktail menu at the newly opened Padrecito in Cole Valley, all sitting in various states of consumption. The wave of drinks crested with the newest cocktails up front, the older and emptier ones ebbing towards the back, while the sea of liquor pushed and pulled like the tide. But two had beached themselves close to me, and despite my better judgment, I was close to finishing them.

I notice my personal telltale sign that the tipsy riptide was pulling me out to sea as I "lose" my phone in one of my own pockets (you fiend!). I fight the current's pull with an order of the Chicharrones with Fava Bean Sikil Pak dip ($9), but those two cocktails were so gorgeously bright and sparkly with citrus, that I couldn't help wading back in for "re-tasting" dip.

See Also: Mamacita's "La Hora Feliz" Has Cheap Margaritas, Duck Confit Tacos

Drink of the Week: Thirsty Like the Wolf at Azucar Lounge

Drink of the Week: Breaking Promises at Hakkasan

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Drink of the Week: Thirsty Like the Wolf at Azucar Lounge

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM

LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
The word "lounge" in the name of a bar usually implies sleek bottle service places with dress codes and the kind of patrons that necessitate large, frightening doormen. But step into Azucar Lounge and the arrangement of sofas and coffee tables parceled out like little living rooms clarifies that here, "lounge" is a what you're expected to do.

Owned and run by Jon Ojinaga and Edgar Tamayo, the pair features fresh produce driven cocktails with a Mexican spirits focus using fresh produce to inspire the bar.

See also: San Francisco's Top Five Hot Dogs

Drink of the Week: Breaking Promises at Hakkasan

Drink of the Week: Dog and Lion Show at Trick Dog

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Drink of the Week: Breaking Promises at Hakkasan

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:35 PM

LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
I'll be honest: I had a certain amount of apprehension going into Hakkasan. Between Willie Brown's warnings about the cost of a meal being so high you'd be strained to make your mortgage payment, the odd street level kiosk that smacks of Vegas style pretense, and the idea of this being an outpost of nine global locations delivering the same formula, the whole concept seemed so out of touch with San Francisco. In terms of first conceptual impressions, Hakkasan came off more like the old guy at the club trying to hangout with the cool kids, than a new harbinger of an international sophistication.

While I can't speak about the experience in the dining room, at the bar they do an outstanding job dispelling those concerns and deliver a unique, entertaining, and elegant experience that won't end with you working off the tab in the kitchen.

See also: Drink of the Week: Dog and Lion Show at Trick Dog

Drink(s) of the Week: Three Cocktails to Charm the Year of the Snake

M.Y. China: High-End Cuisine Finds a Niche in a Busy Mall

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Drink of the Week: Dog and Lion Show at Trick Dog

Posted By on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM

LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
You can't help but steal admire the Pantone color swatch book menu at Trick Dog, with the cocktails named after various color names. Each one either refers to the color, like with the Polar Bear ($11, Pierde Almas Puritita Mezcal, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe, angelica tincture) which comes out as pale white, although a few reference the feel of the name rather than the color, like Grandma's Sweater ($10, Beefeater 24 Gin, Zucca Rabarbaro, blood orange, lime, mint, bitter lemon soda). In lesser hands, this would be cutesy or smack of conceit, but here the menu is an effective guide to visual expectations.

See also: Trick Dog: The Mission's Latest Hotspot Has Colorful Charm

Why There's a Line at Trick Dog (Hint: It's Not Why You Think)

Drink of the Week: Sipping Like Our Forefathers at the Hancock Room

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