Chris Lane, formerly of Heaven's Dog and Wo Hing General Store, took over the bar manager position at Lolinda in San Francisco in December. (The original menu was done by Lane Ford.) Lolinda is a large, modern steakhouse owned by the same folks who brought us Beretta, Starbelly, and Delarosa.
The cocktail menu is split between eight original cocktails (six of them Lane's) and nine classics including the Negroni and Americano. This is Lane's first full menu.
Lane says his directive with the menu was to make the drinks as boldly flavored, modern versions of steakhouse cocktails. Most of them are quite spirit-forward, and on average the drinks are dark brown or yellow in color.
I found them to be food-friendly yet not food-dependent. You can definitely just have a drink and grab a snack, like the delicious smoked artichoke.
Modern Cocktails of Lolinda, From Best to Worst
1. Carpenter’s Hand brandy, amontillado sherry, Drambuie, orange peel, served on the rock.
This drink owes its magnificence to the choice of brandy - Marie Duffau Armagnac. It's a little funky and wild, with so much character it carries through over the other ingredients. The chocolate notes of the sherry seem to grow in intensity as the drink slowly melts on the big ice cube. This drink hits it out of the park.
2. Devil’s Backbone rye, islay scotch, Averna amaro, Gran Classico, two bitters, orange peel, served on the stem.
Robust, delicious, surprisingly exciting, and smoky, this cocktail tastes like the cigarette after sex, and also the sex. It should definitely be your last drink of the evening, as it's rich enough to accompany or replace dessert.
One of just two drinks on the menu not designed by Lane, the Flor De Jerez is credited to Joaquin Simo (Death & Co., Pouring Ribbons). The drink is juicy and citrusy and delicious and fairly low in alcohol and a joy to sip. There are more novice-friendly cocktails on the menu, but I'd recommend this to your cocktail-shy friends.
4. Cloak and Dagger reposado tequila, Cynar, apricot, bitters, orange peel, served on the stem.
Peppery tequila is the dominant flavor note here, with a dry bitter finish. This is a tequila cocktail that will pair well with food.
5. The Lone Palm house spiced rum, lime, grapefruit, honey, bitters, served on the stem.
One of the two crowd-pleasers on the menu, the Lone Palm has that lime-grapefruit-honey flavor combination (often seen at Heaven's Dog) with which it's hard to go wrong.
The other crowd pleaser and the top-selling drink by far at Lolina. It's all about apple cinnamon with maple in this one. Even your grandmother would like it.
7. Bergen St. aquavit, Plymouth gin, lime, vanilla, Galliano, absinthe, served on the stem.
This cocktail was created by Lane Ford and rolls over from the previous menu. Despite all the ingredients it screams Gimlet in flavor profile. The aquavit, absinthe, and Galliano all dance around the anise flavor note.