Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Trendspotting: Elixir's new Low Impact Menu

If a person’s character is to be judged by the cocktails they drink, ordering something sweet and low alcohol was a dead giveaway in the early days of craft cocktails. Telling a craft bartender that their cocktails were smooth and sugary could send them into existential crisis. A patron, on the other hand, could be judged as misled or disinterested in cocktails. As a result, it was hard to find low-alcohol cocktails.

But it seems we’ve evolved since then.

We get it, we’re serious about cocktails. But that doesn’t mean that you have to drink a stiff classic to enjoy yourself. In light of that, more and more bars have recently released menus with virgin, low-impact (low alcohol), and long drinks—AQ, Prizefighter, Rickhouse, and Novela, to name a few. And I love it. Just because you go out doesn’t mean you want to drink very much alcohol. Those who are driving don’t have to be left out of the party either.

We recently went down to Elixir, a famous neighborhood saloon in the Mission. The bar is respected as one of the early pioneers in craft cocktails in San Francisco, and today it’s still a great place to catch some solid drinks in a relaxed, unpretentious environment.

Check out their low-impact menu.

Here's the menu and a visual sample of each.


Matcha Mint Lemonade. This drink comes still or carbonated (using a Perlini carbonation system instead of just soda water. They don't use water/soda guns at Elixir because, frankly, they're gross). This was so good I could have ordered about fifty, and it's completely alcohol free.

Elixir Carbonated Matcha Mint Lemonade

Schpritzer Sister: Lillet Blanc, chamomile citrus tea syrup, lemon juice, soda, strawberries. The chamomile brings out the spice in the Lillet, and the lemon makes this drink dryer than you'd expect.


Kalimotxo: Mexican coke and red wine. This is an easy one to make at home: 50% red wine, 50% Mexican Coke (it's better in this drink because of real sugar)


Pimm's Cup: Pimm's No. 1, ginger ale, strawberry, mint, cucumber. The ginger ale gives this Pimm's a sweeter and richer consistency than most Pimm's Cups. It's nice if you're in the mood for something a little bolder.


Sutton and Soda: specially made dry vermouth by Carl Sutton, soda, lemon twist. Very dry, very simple, very tasty.


Menta Julep: Fernet, mint. If you like fernet, go get this drink right now. If you don't like fernet, at least give it a try. I'm not a huge fernet fan, and I actually liked this drink.

Elixir Menta Julep

For all the pictures check out our Flickr set.

- Josh + Noelle

3200 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 552-1633

1 comment:

Dinah Sanders said...

Key to the rebirth of low-alcohol drinks, in my opinion, is the uncoupling of "sweet and low-alcohol".

As more menus and barkeeps' whimsy's provide the full spectrum of cocktail flavor (including the bitter and complex) at low proof, word spreads that there are great options down below 25% ABV.

For my book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, I made sure to cover that variety from Comforting & Cozy to Adventurous & Bitter. Turns out proof is not the deciding factor in cocktail style.