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Hey I wrote a Gin & Tonic Book

Drinking the Drinks at The Saratoga in San Francisco

The new cocktail-centric spot from the Bacchus Group (Spruce, Village Pub, etc.), The Saratoga, has long-time bar manager Brandon Clements as a partner in the business. I went in this week to see the space and get my drink on. 

It's a classy place - upstairs a more traditional bar format, and downstairs with the feel of a supperclub, though there's no live entertainment. Clements says it varies as to which level is crowded at any given time. The downstairs tables are reserved for diners, but otherwise the venue is first-come, first-served. It's going to be a hot spot for fancy dates. 

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The opening menu is pretty self-explanatory, with highballs, bottled/barreled, shaken, and stirred drinks. They're a combination of classics, classic spin-offs, and originals. I tried a few.

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The Gin highball is spectacular, and was an unexpectedly great way to start the night. Less savory and way more flavorful than expected; almost spicy. Sorry about the crappy picture- it deserves better. 

Highball

I skipped the barrel-aged cocktails in favor of the more original creations. The Grand Pendennis is a combination of the Pendennis and the Grand Bretagne - which is more or less the same cocktail with added egg white. So it's a Pendennis with Bretagne foam that's topped with flamed bitters. The drink is dry despite the bright apricot flavors, and soft from the egg white foam. 

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The burning rum-topped Walking Dead is one of the more delicious tiki-style drinks I've had in a while.  It's soft and integrated rather than harshly citric. It's probably my favorite of the drinks I tried.

Walking dead

The Free-Trade Agreement plays on its Peruvian pisco, Brazilian cachaca, and Bolivian Singani spirits. Another favorite (and I'm not usually a big fan of egg white drinks) with the particular grassiness of the cachaca having a big but not overwhelming impact on the drink. More people should tamper the intenseness of cachaca by splitting the base. Well done. 

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The only stirred drink I had is flavored more like a shaken drink - The Avenue has bourbon, calvados, passion fruit, lemon, and orange blossom. You could probably pour it over ice and be just as happy. The passion fruit (I think it's from Small Hand Foods) was a touch overwhelming but I like how the calvados in particular plays with that flavor. 

Avenue

While I didn't try every single drink on the menu, it's sort of looking like you can't go wrong. 

 

The bar also has a small selection of vintage Chartreuse, Fernet-Branca, Benedictine, and Pimm's. In another couple weeks they'll put a larger emphasis on drinks with these liqueurs to highlight the program. 

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Not that you need more bars to put on your must-visit bar list... but yeah kinda.

 

 

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

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