What a week! Monday was relatively quiet- I met a PR friend for lunch at Fritjz (we talked about gin, absinthe, and Tales), then another friend for drinks at Dalva later on.
On Tuesday, though, things got crazy. My friend and fellow booze writer Amy Zavatto was in town so we hit Cantina then Bourbon & Branch for some cocktails. I hopped in a cab late for dinner at Mangarosa in North Beach, where I was dining with Matti Anttila, president of Cabana cachaca. Our dinner was paired with drinks curated by Anthony Dias Blue, who is kind of hilarious. While learning about Cabana, the conversation turned to one of my favorite topics, SkyMall. Matti said his grandfather hated flying but loved SkyMall so he had a subscription sent to his house.
After dinner, we hopped in cabs and headed to Rye for a quick couple more drinks. Then we hit Bourbon & Branch for my second time that day. There, we ran into John Cooper from Canton ginger liqueur, who was having drinks with a pack of writers, a photographer, my PR friend from Monday, and bartenders. It was a lovely reunion, so we had lots of drinks then headed to another bar. That bar was Cantina, where I'd also been earlier that day. We stayed until closing, and then it was long time for that day to be over.
On Wednesday, I met up with a bunch of folks (including two people who were at B&B the night before) for an evening at Opaque, the dining-in-the-dark restaurant beneath Indigo in Hayes Valley. First we had drinks at Jade, then we were lead in groups down into the darkness. They combined their typical meal (in the dark, utensils are useless) with a tasting of the Miracle Fruit that turns sour tastes sweet and makes lemons delicious to suck on.
One of our fellow diners is actually afraid of the dark so for him it was a terrifying experience, which made the dinner all the more fun for the rest of us. He would shuffle a deck of cards to calm down, so we'd hear a thwipp-thwipp-thwipp sound every few minutes. My friend Maria kept making jokes about the waiter rifling through her purse in the dark, then when she left she saw the big sign right by the door that says, "Not responsible for lost or stolen items." Ha!
The next day, I went to a party for The Men's Book magazine that is put out by San Francisco Magazine. (The next issue comes out in September and I have a story in it on sherry cocktails.) There I was hanging out with some people, one of whom told me he saw an episode of CSI where they went to a dining-in-the-dark restaurant and someone was murdered. (The waiter did it.)
After that, I headed over to the new Zare at Fly Trap for a pre-opening dinner. One of the bartenders there was working at Jade the previous night, adding to the continuity of things that is so important in a narrative of this nature. Reza Esmali of Conduit is doing the drink menu (launched next week) but made me the Cardamom My Dearest (the name kills me) with Old Raj gin, cardamom syrup, lime juice, and dry vermouth. It was great on its own but worked incredibly well with the food. And the food was terrific, using a lot of "cradle of civilization" flavors in new ways.
On Friday I met a friend for drinks and dinner at Beretta, a little place in the Mission I am known to frequent. But I got there too early and it wasn't open yet, and while waiting I received a text message from another friend hanging at Cantina saying she got there before the bar opened too. Great drunks think alike.
Anyway, we stayed at Beretta for a few drinks (Note: I'm about to start a protest to bring back the Rangoon Gin Cobbler) then left for home but didn't make it, because Brooke was working the bar at Range just down the street.
We tried the tomato-based Sungold Zinger, mentioned in GQ magazine and invented by Carlos Yturria a while back, and the Diablo Dulce that combines strawberries with chiles and a chipotle salt rim. Both fantastic. Then Brooke made us a preview of her entry for the Flor de Cana cocktail competition coming up. I thought the drink was delicious but could have used an older rum- and it turns out the competition is with the 18-year-old expression instead of the four-year-old one she had behind the bar. Perfect.
Now after a work week like that, I need the weekend to recover. So if you see me out, please knock me unconscious and deliver me to my apartment. I have a few events next week I need to rest up for.