Friday, June 28, 2013

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes of Raff Distillerie on Treasure Island

Like most San Franciscans, we don’t really make it out much to Treasure Island. I admit it: Inside, I’ve always wished that it were a tropical haven of pirates and free chests of gold. It is actually a man-made island off the Bay Bridge that once served as an airport in 1939, then became a naval base, and now is a growing residential area. But what brought us to Treasure Island was something very different: Raff Distillerie—a local spirits maker of absinthe, gin, and rum.

Well, there’s your treasure right there. So when Carter Raff, the owner of the distillery, invited us to shoot at his site, we just couldn’t resist.

What made the experience even more interesting is that Carter’s distillery inhabits the old Navy brig—that’s the old navy prison. It was fitted with the retro mint green guard room, classic slate holding cells, and high barbed wire fences. Shudder! Sometimes I thought it would make for a better horror flick than a mini-documentary. But an awesome spot for a distillery either way. You certainly don't worry that anyone is breaking in.

It turns out that Carter had an early interest in adult beverages, having gone to school at Sonoma State with the initial aspiration of winemaking. He was able to combine his talents at metalworking to make every still completely from scratch. Unlike many other distillers, this has allowed him to control his product very, very specifically, custom designing every piece for his needs.

It results in some really lovely products. His gin—Bummer and Lazarus Gin, named after San Francisco’s most famous dogs—is quite drinkable with bursts of citrus and less of that drying juniper quality more closely associated with grandpa. His absinthe was also slaved over, diving deep into the history books to replicate what absinthe actually tasted like when it was first popular in France during the 1840s.

To sum up Carter’s story, we’ve produced a video (shown above). I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Where to Drink: Park Tavern's Eden Lounge


It's not easy to find a quiet place to drink in North Beach, but Park Tavern's Eden Lounge is a nice respite from the usual weekend hustle and bustle. It's intimate, relaxed, and worth a visit if you're in the neighborhood. But don't expect to roll in whenever you feel; the Eden Lounge is only open sporadically. Here's a link to see if Eden Lounge is open in the next few weeks.


I enjoyed drinking here with a small group of friends. The cocktail menu was small, but the bartenders can easily go off menu. They seem more than willing to experiment off the cuff should you desire an adventurous drink. Our bartender's experiment was strikingly similar to a Juliet and Romeo.



I recommend peeking in Eden Lounge if you're in the neighborhood and it's open. I hesitate to recommend actually drinking there only because we had a very unusual experience: the staff was completely unwilling to handle a drunken and unruly patron because he was the owner's friend. It wouldn't have been a huge deal if he hadn't been throwing cell phones and empty glasses at walls and trying to start fights. It harshed everyone's mellow. I wouldn't even mention it, but I get the sense that things like that aren't anomalous. Like I said, peek in and check out the vibe. If it's mellow, check it out.

Park Tavern (Eden Lounge)
1652 Stockton St, SF

Friday, June 21, 2013

VIDEO: How to Make a Sazerac (recipe)

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! We are so excited about the longest day of the year—and it’s a Friday to boot! To celebrate, we will be mixing Sazeracs at home. The stiff, New Orleans drink will always be one of our favorites. It’s rich, citrus-scented, and sophisticated.

Last week we shared our video about how to make a Manhattan. Today, here’s our Sazerac!

How do you make yours? What are you drinking for the Solstice?


Noelle and Josh

Monday, June 17, 2013

Good old fashioned American drinkin' music

With old instruments, new sounds, and a hell of a lot of talent, the Punch Brothers produce innovative Bluegrass music. Don't be fooled by the youtube comments; this music is a beautiful, modernized version of what saloon-goers might have heard 100 years ago. Enjoy this tune, "Rye Whiskey."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Photo shoot with Reclamation Etchworks

Local Alembic bar manager Ethan Terry and his business partner Tim Daw recently nailed a $20,000 Kickstarter goal for their company, Reclamation Etchworks. Noelle and I recently had the great good fortune of shooting photographs of Ethan and Tim's beautiful product. We put together a little photo shoot with them and models (and killer bartenders) Matthew Homyak, Helen Diaz (also seen at Lolinda), and our friend Victoria George (also seen at Rickhouse).


The shoot was set in Russells Room inside Bourbon and Branch and designed to have an Art Deco feel––without explicitly invoking a certain novel-turned-movie released this summer––to match the laser-etching on the bottles. As the pictures reveal, it was a fun shoot:



Take a look at the full photo shoot here:

Friday, June 7, 2013

VIDEO: How to Make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail (recipe)

Homemade Manhattan

The classic Manhattan was the very first drink we ever learned how to make! For Josh, it was in the college dorm room of his good friend John, sometimes using Burger King ice. For me, it was in my good friend Kathy's friend's New York apartment, who happened to be a superstar bartender; he taught me how to stir, crack ice, and even measure. For both of us, it's a very dear cocktail that we've returned to again and again.

We're excited to kick off this new videos series about how to make classic cocktails! But, believe us, we know that there are many, many ways to make any given cocktail.

So this is our way. But we want to know yours! What do you guys think? Happy Friday!

Here's the full recipe:

2 oz whiskey (we like rye)
1 oz Vermouth (can you guess which one is used here?)
3 dashes angostura (or to taste)


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Redford: A New American-Themed Bar in the Tenderloin

Redford SF: Exterior

When we first moved to San Francisco, we never thought we'd spend much time in the Tenderloin. As it turns out, though, San Francisco's Tenderloin is a great place for cocktails. Sure, there can be some unsavory characters, homelessness, crime, and widespread drug use (we were once almost hit from a crack pipe falling from the sky!), but the place and its people are still part of SF's heart and soul. A handful of the city's most beloved craft cocktail spots have found a home in the storied district—Bourbon and Branch, Rye, Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen, and Jones, to name a few. Now there is a new friendly bar opening next week. Brought to us by the folks behind Taverna Avertine, Redford will bring food, drinks, and an easygoing atmosphere to the neighborhood, starting June 7.

Josh and I were lucky to check out the new spot during a friends and family event last week. Some people will recognize the space as what used to be the club the Ambassador. The space has been completely renovated into a modern two-tier Americana bar. The hope is that this down-to-earth design will bring people into a welcoming, easygoing atmosphere.

Redford SF

The interior features beautiful wood and brick accents with large skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows in the front that let in the summer evening light—a big shift from the lounge it used to be.

Redford SF: Window seat

The bar itself is an interpretation of what it means to be American. As part of its no-fuss, no-pretentions philosophy, the decoration draws from a lot of cool recycled, vintage pieces from the Alameda fair. This includes a 48-star flag:

Redford SF: 48-star flag

And also big wheel bar centerpiece.

Redford SF: Main bar

The Redford has two bars. One downstairs when folks first walk in the door.

Redford SF: Downstairs bar

There is also additional space on a loft level, which can also be used for private parties.

Redford SF: Upstairs bar

One of the most innovative parts of the menu a selection of whiskey and wine pairings. It was a lot of fun to try! We had never heard of such pairings before!

Redford SF: Whiskey and wine pairing

Unlike other bars in the city, the Redford owners have no intention of being a craft cocktail bar. The aim here is not to labor over the details of ingredients and execution. The emphasis is on quick, friendly service and accessible drinks. The cocktails are not fussy, easy to drink, and quick to make (so no long waits in line!).

The trademark drink is the Redford lemonade—an ice-cold, spiked lemonade with a selection of either Bulleit bourbon or vodka. We tried the bourbon version, and it was so smooth! It was sweet and went down easily—perfect for those who are looking for something a little bit fun but without any burn. I look forward to drinking them on a hot day!

Redford SF: Lemonade

In addition, we also checked out the Martinez—a sweeter, more herbaceous cousin of the martini, made smooth and floral from a touch of maraschino liqueur.

Redford SF: Martinez

We also thought we'd try a classic, since we love them so much. What better than a sazerac! Here it is pictured in a lovely sniffer.

Redford SF: Sazerac

One of the things that I really love about the Redford is that they serve food! In my opinion, way more bars in the city could stand to serve some food for happier, safer drinking. Redford's food brought rich, bold flavors to standup to the cocktails. The menu is divided up simply into a small, medium, or large category, so that folks could opt for a big, heavy meal, small bites, or even a light salad.

We snacked on a selection of nuts, olives, and small pickled peppers stuffed with cheese.

Redford SF: Small bites

I tried a devil's egg, which packed a wallop. It featured bourbon-infused bacon sprinkled on top.

Redford SF: Deviled eggs

Lastly, for something more substantial to go along with the cocktails, we ordered some macaroni and cheese. Josh doesn't eat meat (as enthusiastic as I am about it), and they were very accommodating in serving it vegetarian. So creamy and easy to eat quickly!

Redford SF: Macaroni and cheese

Redford is officially open June 7. But in the meantime, you can check out more Flickr pictures (including the menu) here:

673 Geary St., San Francisco, CA
(650) 400-4871
Open 5:00 pm - 2:00 am