New Booze: VDKA 6100
New Booze: Single Cask 1969 No. 11485 from The Glenrothes

Drink-By-Drink at The Coachman, the Former Heaven's Dog in San Francisco

Coachman menu copyThe Coachman opened recently in the space of the former Heaven's Dog. It's from the same owners - Charles Phan of The Slanted Door. I went in to drink my way through most of the cocktails on the menu - and a few that aren't yet. 

The space got an upgrade from the HD days, with a more open dining area and additional seating in a second alcove in the bar area. The space has always been dominated by the long bar carved from a slice of tree, but now it seems to allow more people to enjoy it. 

Heaven's Dog was a much-loved bar so for its fans, the new drink menu will take some getting used to. But I remember when HD opened it took me a while to really 'get' the feel of the drinks - big, brassy numbers with lots of funky rum. 

It seems that The Coachman, with John Codd at the helm of the bar program, has kept the funk but replaced rum with genever for its focus (though there is still a lot of rum). Three of the 13 drinks contain genever; plus another drink uses beer schnapps which is similar. 

Let's go through the menu drink-by-drink, shall we? 

CIDER CUP A LA ENSOR
OSOCALIS BRANDY, CIDER, PUR PEAR, CUCUMBER, PINEAPPLE, LEMON
COOLING CUPS AND DAINTY DRINKS 1869

This one should be the top-selling crowd pleaser. First off, it comes in a Moscow Mule copper mug with a fun cucumber garnish. Second, it's as drinkable as it sounds. 

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ANTIQUE SOUR
CARPANO ANTICA SWEET VERMOUTH, BEER SCHNAPPS, LEMON, EGG WHITE, PIECE OF ICE

This drink was on John Codd's last menu at Wo Hing General Store, and it is really nice. The beer schnapps gives it a malty, genever-like quality to the vermouth-based drink. Clever and really good. 

REGENT’S PUNCH
HAMILTON JAMAICAN GOLD RUM, OSACALIS BRANDY, CLASSICAL SHERBET, PEDRO XIMENES SHERRY, PINEAPPLE, LEMON, SODA
MODERN COOKERY FOR PRIVATE FAMILIES 1849

This drink has funky rum that comes through, soft brandy, a touch of sweet sherry, and a bunch of citrus. "Classical sherbet" is code for oleo saccharum, for those in the know, and that plus the splash of soda gives the drink a little tingling fizz. Really nice. 

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KNICKERBOCKER
APPLETON’S V/X JAMAICAN RUM, STRAWBERRY, KINA, LEMON, SPARKLING WINE
COOLING CUPS AND DAINTY DRINKS 1869

Both sweet at the start from the strawberry and dry in the finish from the sparkling wine/kina combination, this drink is probably a better food pairing than you'd expect. It's pretty refreshing and I'd even try it served in a tall collins glass instead. 

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PINEAPPLE JULEP
BOLS GENEVER, SPICED AND ROASTED PINEAPPLE, MARASCHINO, CRUSHED ICE
JERRY THOMAS' BARTENDERS GUIDE: HOW TO MIX DRINKS 1862

This drink is both familiar and exotic: cinnamon and genever together are lovely. The pineapple was roasted and pureed, so it's not a fresh pineapple flavor. It probably deserves some time to settle and dilute as all juleps due, so if you're a fast drinker this one might come on too strong.

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CARDINAL
BARBANCOURT WHITE RUM, MANZANILLA SHERRY , SPICED WINE ICE, LIME, CINNAMON
OXFORD NIGHT CAPS 1871

More zesty than you'd imagine from the soda water. The spiced wine ice is what it sounds, in a nice deep red color like a fresh beating heart (not that I've seen one in person). The drink changes as the ice dilutes, getting those wintery spices in the mix. A fun one to drink, and not as brainy as some of the others. Probably for your newbie cocktail friends this is the one to order after the Cider Cup. 

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HEIDELBERG CUP NO. 9
DIEP 9 BELGIUM GENEVER, WHOLE LEMON AND NAHE RIESILING; SERVED ON CRUSHED ICE
COOLING CUPS AND DAINTY DRINKS 1869

This one from Keli Rivers is both light in texture and bold in flavor; the combination of genever and Riesling. The "whole lemon" in question is a lemon cordial made from whole lemons rather than just the peel/juice. 

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ROBERT BURNS’ HUNTING FLASK
REDBREAST 12YR WHISKY, CURRANTS, GINGER, LEMON PEEL, SERVED IN A HUNTING FLASK
TRADITIONAL RECIPE FROM THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

They've stepped up the presentation game at The Coachman, with julep cups, copper mugs, the above metal cup, and the flask for this drink. But the drink itself is very cool - it's just an infusion rather than a cocktail mixed to order, and there is no sugar added so all the sweetness comes from the currants. It has an oloroso sherry-like flavor to it. 

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ATHOL BROSE
WHISKY, HONEY, STRAUS MILK, OATS, DASH OF COFFEE
TRADITIONAL DRINK OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLAND

This cocktail is from Erik Ellestad, who has returned to his old post behind this bar. It has a nice Ovaltine grainy earthiness to it. It's not super heavy but if you're not eating and want to put something substantial/soothing in your stomach this is it.

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WALL-E-BEAR
ANIVERSARIO PAMPERO RUM, FINO SHERRY, NEGRONI REDUCTION, YELLOW CHARTREUSE

This is a rich, post-dinner of final-drink along the lines of a spicy Rum Manhattan. There's just a touch of the Chartreuse to give it that spice. The color of the drink is a beautiful deep red that I couldn't really capture in the picture below but I tried. 

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CALIFORNIA MILK PUNCH
OSACALIS BRANDY, APPLETONS V/X JAMAICAN RUM, BATAVIA ARRACK, CLARIFIED MILK, SPICED SYRUP
JERRY THOMAS' BARTENDERS GUIDE: HOW TO MIX DRINKS 1862

We owe this drink to Erik Ellestad, who has been making fantastic clarified milk punches since the days of the original Heaven's Dog. The booziness of the drink is hidden beneath the creaminess of the milk. A must try, if you haven't before. 

 

LASS O’ GOWRIE
HAKUSHU 12YR WHISKY, HONEY, PUNT E MES, PEYCHAUD’S BITTERS, PIECE OF ICE

Another import from Wo Hing that was one of my favorites there. All of these flavors come together wonderfully well.  

GIN COCKTAIL
BOLS AGED GENEVER, GUM SYRUP, CURACAO, ORANGE BITTERS, LEMON PEEL, PIECE OF ICE
THE FLOWING BOWL 1891

Malty! I've tried a bunch of versions of Gin Cocktail with added dashes of maraschino, curacao, and absinthe. I can't claim this is my favorite formulation (I love absinthe) but it is definitely a hearty kick-in-the-pants, which is always nice. 

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I also had a preview of a drink in development: A Clarified Last Word flight. The drink may very well change in the future, but the way I had it was with Green Chartreuse, clarified lime juice (clarified with a wine filter, so mechanical filtration I believe rather than other methods), and one of three gins from St. George Spirits. 

The Terroir gin made the drink alpine-y; the Dry Rye finishes super dry; the Botanivore comes out super lemony and citrusy-sweet. Codd said that he wasn't sure in the future if they'd go for three different brands, three styles (genever, Old Tom, London dry), or something else. I liked this version. 

The fun thing about clarified juices is that you can stir them in a cocktail, and Codd did using his spiffy 3-prong stirrer (and shaking a cocktail at the same time just to show off). 

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So there you have it. I am looking forward to once again spending far too much time at this bar. 

 

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

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