Ice Cream Bar Pairings

Ice Cream Bar (815 Cole St. at Frederick), a throwback to the 1930’s soda fountain/ice cream parlor is just about to open in Cole Valley, and while the ice cream sundaes deserve their own write-up, the soda program from Texas/Rickhouse barman Russell Davis is mind-boggling.

Everything on the menu is reconstructed from century-old recipes. More than a dozen flavored syrups are made with fresh produce and without cooking to preserve the crisp flavors and silky smoothness, and they offer two dozen house-made extracts and over 75 house-made tinctures to be incorporated into a custom frappe, float, milkshake, malt, crush, phosphate, lactart, egg cream or soda. There is no other place creating these drinks in this way, but I expect the success of Ice Cream Bar will launch retro lunch counters and convince cocktail bars all over the country to start in-house soda programs in the very near future.

The amount of effort that goes into every drink is remarkable.  They whip cream in a shaker, and what’s more, milkshakes are made not with ice cream, but by shaking raw eggs and cream with hand carved blocks of ice!

They don’t have a liquor license (although a beer and wine license is pending), but if one were to perhaps, theoretically sneak a flask into ICB, the possibilities would defy the imagination. Having just tasted the entire menu, I recommend the following hypothetical boozey enhancements:


Peche No. 3 (cherry and anise frappe) – St. George Absinthe

Too Good to be True (butterscotch malted) –  Pappy Van Winkle 15 year (keeping in the spirit of the name)

House Built TonicPlymouth Gin (it’s a no-brainer)

My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend (roasted pineapple and pink peppercorn lactart) – Malibu (and I feel no shame)

Russel’s Sassafras Root Beer – (going out on a limb here) Smith and Cross Rum

Breakfast Soda (orange thyme crush) – Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila

For Bobby Long (chocolate hellfire phosphate) – Del Maguey Mezcal Vida

Touch of Grey (creamed candy capped mushroom phosphate) – Remy Martin Cognac 1738 Accord Royale(because mushroom soda is already so absurd)





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Hermetus Bottle Opener & Resealer

Update: sign up for the email newsletter to get a $7 off coupon, bringing the cost under a buck (+$5 shipping).

For  crooked bar owners, roofy dosers and those who just can’t drink a whole beer in one sitting, there is now the Hermetus Bottle Opener & Resealer. This churchkey can also be used to hermetically reseal your beer.

 If nothing else, it would make the Strange Brew scam easier to execute (valid only in Canada)

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St. George’s New Gins (& The Best Place To Taste Them)

My favorite mad scientists, the fine distillers at St. George Spirits have just released their first gin… and their second… and their third.  This delectable trio of new gins is incredibly diverse and unique. When I mentioned the endeavor in an article earlier this year, master distiller Lance Winters only described what would become the Terroir gin, with a flavor-profile constructed from his experiences around Mt. Tamalpais, but this spawned more experimentation and further product development and now three gins are hitting the streets at the same time.


  • St. George Terroir Gin 

An “ode to the wild beauty of the Golden State,” I find Terroir to be the most aggressive of the three, and the trees really sing out from this evergreen-inspired spirit, made with hand-foraged, local botanicals.  Because Mount Tam played muse in its creation, St. George will donate a portion of proceeds to the California State Parks Foundation.

  • St. George Botanivore Gin

The generalist of the three, the beautifully balanced Botanivore melds in a lovely way with most any gin cocktail recipe. Although every gin must include juniper, it’s only one among nearly 20 botanical ingredients, making this herbaceous gin more gentle than most.

  • St. George Dry Rye Gin

Gorgeous in a Negroni, the Dry Rye Gin is made from 100% rye distillate giving it a spicy warmth and it includes only five other ingredients, four of which are there to enhance the flavor of the fifth, a double dose of juniper.

Party With Me At The Distillery!

If you’re in the Bay Area and want to experience these new gins in every wonderful way, St. George is throwing a Bathtub Gin BBQ this Sunday at the distillery in Alameda to celebrate the conclusion of SF Cocktail Week. If it’s anything like last year (or even if they have nothing in common but location and cocktails) it is not to be missed!

A half-dozen of the best local bartenders have been carefully crafting cocktail recipes for this event  (I know because a couple used me as a guinea pig), the distillery staff has created another, and there will also be a G&T made with homemade tonic from Pizzaiolo’s Kate August, a Gibson made with onions from Studebaker Pickles, and samples of the new gins straight, and it’s only $35 to try them all!

Photos from last year’s Cocktail Week event at St. George

Time: Sunday, September 25, 2011 4-7 p.m.
Place: St. George Spirits, 2601 Monarch St., Alameda
Tickets: $35 in advance; $45 at the door (food available for purchase)

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Gunpowder Test

In the 18th and 19th centuries, when the British Royal Navy rationed rum to mariners, it wasn’t Bacardi Gold.

This stuff had to be fiery enough to fend off the elements, so to ensure their booze wasn’t being watered down, seamen would perform the gunpowder test by dousing a pile of gunpowder with rum, touching it to a match, and if it still ignited, then the proof was high enough to serve to sailors.

I discovered the moron test last week. Rather than looking up the proof of Booker’s Bourbon from my phone, I dunked a finger into my glass and stuck it into a candle flame on the bar. Sure enough, at 125 proof, I was waving a bright blue blaze to the shock and awe of my friends, and patrons at neighboring tables.

Don’t try this at home, but if you do, keep your hand moving to prevent actually getting burned.

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UrbanDig it

Sometimes I forget that there are at least three of you who aren’t my Facebook friends, and thus probably haven’t heard from me about UrbanDig.

It’s a fantastic, free  iPhone app (Android coming soon) that supplies very specific urban tours. Rather than digging around on Yelp, trying to figure out where to go, you can find a carefully curated short-list of locales that will surely suit your fancy. There are tours for eating, drinking, shopping and for each city’s hidden gems. Each list is crafted by a local writer and offer concise advice and insider knowledge to help you make the most of your experience, and it is great for locals and tourists alike.

Full disclosure (well, more like bragging): I curated the craft cocktail tour of San Francisco, so if you are looking for a great drink in the city, check out my “Crafty Sips” tour (then order me a drink and let me know where to meet you).


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California Backing Down On Stupid Liquor Laws

It’s been over a year since I mentioned California’s absurd post-prohibition blue laws being newly enforced, ticketing bars for the heinous crime of infusing alcohol with fruit and herbs, and finally this week, it looks like things are about to change.

Local boy, SF State Senator Mark Leno’s bill has passed the legislature and just needs to be signed by the governor. If you want to show your support, an online petition has been started by the Bon Vivants.

Now what we need is legislation allowing bars to stay open until 4:00am. Give California’s thousands of bars the option to pay an annual fee for extended hours, and just let our broke-ass state rake in the dough from this and the taxes on additional sales.

Update: Bill became law!

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