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First Taste: 17 of the 115 Gin Cocktails at Whitechapel in San Francisco

Whitechapel, the new gin bar from Martin Cate of tiki bar Smuggler's Cove, opens on October 26th. The bar is huge, with seating for more than 100 people plus standing room for more.

You'll get to see pictures of the design soon and the bar will also offer food, but as usual I'm just here to talk about the drinks.

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Whitechapel will have a house gin distilled at Distillery No 209 in San Francisco, and a house tonic made by Small Hand Foods. The Gin and Tonic will be on tap. 

There are 115 gin cocktails on the menu, plus 6 gin tasting flights.

Cate invited me in for a sneak preview of the drinks. The menu is divided into:

  • Original Cocktails
  • Honor Among Thieves (cocktails created by industry friends)
  • Lost and Forgotten (rare vintage cocktails)
  • Popular Classics
  • The Martini Family
  • Gins and Tonics
  • Punches and Bowls
  • Kopstootje (shot and beer combos)
  • Gin and Seltzer Highballs
  • Gin Flights

Whitechapel contents menu

Unlike Smuggler's Cove, which does offer a few non-rum tiki drinks, Whitechapel has an all-gin drink menu. (There are other spirits available, just not on the menu.)

We "just" covered the Original Cocktails section of the menu - 17 of the 19 drinks on it. Most of the drinks were developed by Alex Smith, formerly of many local bars including Novela, Honor Bar, and Smuggler's Cove long ago. 

THE QUEEN MOTHER 
Bombay sapphire gin, dubonnet rouge, king’s ginger liqueur, lemon-celery bitters

This one tasted like a Martinez or Dubonnet Cocktail as you might expect, but made more lively and refreshing with the ginger.

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DUTCH NEMESIS 
Bols genever, combier kummel, pineapple gum, sparkling wine, angostura bitters, lime

Deliciously interesting, dominated by the caraway/cumin of the kummel and the malty genever.

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C.F. PACHUCA 
Rusty blade gin, ancho reyes, noilly prat ambre vermouth, mezcal, orange bitters

Rich, sharp, and spicy.

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NARC ANGEL 
Ford’s gin, maraschino, orange curaçao, campari, ginger, mint, lemon

Served with a pipette of Campari that can be squeezed into the drink or added on top like a Sno-Cone. Tropical and minty.

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FLEMISH PURL 
Tanqueray dry gin, diep 9 oude genever, flemish sour ale, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg, clove

I didn't get to try this one as they didn't have the sour ale in stock.

THE LAMPLIGHTER'S STORY 
Plymouth gin infused w/ hibiscus, grapefruit marmalade, serrano chili, bitter orange soda, lemon

This drink brings out the savory side of spicy. The bitter orange soda is Chinato from Italy. The ganish is an orange peel poking through a slice of green pepper.

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HOLMES’BONFIRE 
No. 3 gin, bols genever, salted licorice liqueur, toasted orgeat, egg white, lemon

One of Alex Smith's custom tricks is to split the gin base between mostly London dry style and a half an ounce of genever to give it the tiniest malty note. This drink isn't too overwhelmed by the salted licorice liqueur (made in-house), and that flavor is nice with the combined creaminess of orgeat and egg white.

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BOHEMIAN GROVE ACCORD 
No. 209 cabernet barrel gin, bols genever, becherovka, oloroso sherry, orange curaçao

In this drink the cinnamon shines from the Becherovka- a fall gin drink? Nearly clear in color, it's a surprise all around. You’d expect it to have a whisky base.

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NORMAN CONQUEST 
Citadelle gin, orange marmalade, absinthe, sparkling wine, lemon

This looks like it's going to be a Mimosa given the orange color and champagne flute, and it's not too far off from that, but it's pleasantly sharp from both the citrus and the bubbles with the kick from gin. 

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SPITALFIELDS ICED TEA
Tanqueray 10 gin, oloroso sherry, earl grey honey, curiosity cola, lemon

If you think of it as a Long Island Iced Tea it makes sense because of the cola but no sense at all because of the earl grey. And if you think of it as an iced tea drink it makes no sense because of the cola. Weird, but surprisingly good.

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THE VON DUTCH COCKTAIL 
Bols damrak gin, bols barrel-aged genever, cinnamon shrub, unfiltered apple juice, black pepper bitters, lemon

This is not the pumpkin spice cocktail you're expecting from the list of ingredients. The shrub adds a vinegar sharpness and the apple seemed to lend more a soft creamy texture than too much cider flavor. 

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THE SALERNO 
Beefeater 24 gin, benedictine, italian vermouth, jasmine green tea, soda, lime

This drink tastes like all of its ingredients.

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AUDREY ROSE 
Hendrick’s gin, liqueur de violettes, dolin blanc vermouth, rose water, peychaud’s bitters, acid phosphate

Were you looking for the floral lady drink? You found it. It's a touch sweeter and less bright/sharp than most on this part of the menu.

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GILBERT'S MELODEON 
Sipsmith gin, green chartreuse, pineapple gum, mint, club soda, lime

The comparisons to the Chartreuse Swizzle are obvious, but this is a lot less juicy than that modern classic, lighter, and fizzy/zesty. I forget to take an individual picture of this one but it's the one with mint in the front.

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COVENTRY COCKTAIL
Oxley gin, lavender-infused damson plum liqueur, tonic bitters

Dark purple in color. Rich, deep, and delicious in flavor. Boozy. One of my favorites.

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HIPPIE WALLBANGER 
Leopold’s gin, galliano, orange, patchouli tincture, club soda, lime

Why yes, it is like a gin Harvey Wallbanger with patchouli in it. 

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THE POPULAR DELUSION 
Spirit works gin, dillon’s cherry gin, passion fruit, creole bitters, lemon

#BIGSELLER

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PENNY DREADFUL 
Sacred gin, amer bigallet, italian vermouth, hellfire bitters, smoked islay peat

A big, bitter drink for lovers of bitter amari. I'm surprised it's not served on a big rock rather than up.

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THE MODERN PROMETHEUS 
Royal dock navy strength gin, diep 9 oude genever, sloe gin, falernum, absinthe, grapefruit, cinnamon bitters, lime

They didn't have one of the ingredients so I didn't get to try this one either. Sounds good though, right?

So that's it. You're going to be hearing a lot about this bar. Years in the making, insane design, bright, drinkable drinks, and some innovations as well. You should probably just go see it.

 

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

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