Range is most well known for its kitchen––it earned a Michelin Star from 2007-2010––but its cocktails are exceptional. Like Blackbird, Range blazes its own trail through San Francisco cocktail culture. Three things really impressed us with Range. First, Range is attempting to bring European drinking culture, particularly the aperitif hour, to San Francisco. Second, Range takes uniquely culinary approach to the cocktail menu. Finally, Range is going to, single handedly, integrate sherry into the San Francisco cocktail scene in a big way. Below, we'll walk through the entire aperitif menu, take a look at some of the culinary cocktails, and then wrap up with two fantastic sherries.
Spanish Bramble: amontillado sherry, blackberry-mint shrub (a fruit preservation method of old. It's somewhat like a gastrique), St. George Terroir Gin, soda.
Gemstone: Manzanilla sherry, pear eau de vie, lemon, verbena, grapefruit bitters. A clean drink, very light on the palate.
Paris to Milan: Cocchi Americano Rosa, St. Germain, white verjus (unaged, unfiltered grape juice. It's tart and acidic, almost like a lighter vinegar), prosecco. I found this drink to be dangerous––I could drink it all day. Fortunately it's low ABV, so it's not the end of the world if you knock back a few.
Californio: Oloroso sherry, California bay, Gran Classico, soda. The California bay in this drink is incredible. The acidity of the sherry and the herbaceousness of the bay make for a very flavorful cocktail. With this drink, especially, you can see that Range takes a more culinary approach to its drinks.
Uptown Downtown: Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Noah's Mill bourbon, bitters. This is basically a reversed Manhattan Cocktail. I think this drink is genius. First, it's has that amazing Manhattan flavor profile we all love. Second, because your'e only using a small pour of whiskey, you get afford a pretty nice one. Finally, you can enjoy more than one without the fear of over-indulging.
Third Rail: Buffalo Trace, Lillet, honey, lemon, Fee's orange bitters. I was very impressed with how well paired the flavors were in this drink. Basically it's bourbon, honey, and orange. The Lillet adds depth and the lemon adds acidity, but they serve only to highlight the main three flavors: bourbon, honey, and orange. Delicious.
Sungold Zinger: 209 Gin, sungold tomatoes, agave, lemon. Another very culinary cocktail. It's not as savory as many tomato drinks are, thanks to the agave and lemon. It's even relatively simple for such a complex looking drink.
Braveheart: Monkey Shoulder Scotch, sherry, apricot, moroccan spices, bitters, lemon. The only thing wrong with this drink is that it's not low ABV, so I couldn't put four of them away like I wanted to. The peaty scotch goes perfectly with apricot. The moroccan spices leave a lingering spice that satisfies and stimulates your palate for more.
Agua Fresca: Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila, watermelon juice, cilantro, lime. The tequila and cilantro go perfectly with watermelon juice. This drink tastes as fresh as it looks.
Sweet Pea: Tito's Vodka, sugar snap peas, sage, lemon, celery bitters, tonic. I like neither peas nor vodka. Somehow, though, I liked this drink. It's perhaps the most culinary-inspired of the cocktails, powerfully herbal and vegetal. Delicious.
La Cigarrera sherry and El Maestro Sierra sherry. These are two pretty standard table sherries. They've got interesting flavors. If you're a wine drinker, they're worth investigating, although they're going to be more acidic than you're used to.
I strongly suggest visiting Range for aperitif hour. Look for this guy, Tayler Buffington. He's the bar manager:
View the whole set on Flickr:
Aperitif Hour: 5-6 every evening
Hours: Mon-Thu: 6-close