GITANE, Financial District/Downtown – With new (since last Fall) bar manager Alex Smith helming the bar, there’s some beautiful things happening at Gitane. Sherry remains prominent, in keeping with the restaurant’s Spanish influence, while horizons expand in everything from chorizo bitters (house-infused with actual chorizo, of course) to salted maple syrup.
La Convivencia ($12) fills in as an aperitif with a sweet vermouth and Nocino presence, warm with Four Roses bourbon and East India sherry, meaty with chorizo bitters. La Tardor ($13) is sunny and lush with No. 209 gin, ruby port, cherry heering and lime, soft with honey and egg white. A surprise lies in the sweet, earthy combo of infused vanilla bean and white peppercorn, with a welcome aromatic of fresh cinnamon dusting the top. Autumn Flip ($11) is a creamy, whole egg mix of Laird’s bonded apple brandy with bitter cinnamon cordial and salted maple syrup. I’ll take that for dessert, thank you.
15 ROMOLO, North Beach – You’ve seen me list drinks from 15 Romolo for years now. They are ever among our city’s best, even with new bartenders on board. The talented Kyle Ford (who also works at Rye and runs Ford Mixology Lab with his bartending wife, Rachel – she’s at Rickhouse) composed a gin cocktail he infused with lapsang souchong tea, so smoky (yet bright with citrus) that my first sip sparked an immediate craving for barbecue.
Jared Anderson created my favorite SF Beer Week cocktail – and it’s not easy for beer cocktails to keep up. His C.F.K. (initials of Mr. Charles Foster Kane, Citizen Kane himself) is a delicate glass of St. George’s single malt with Firestone’s Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout. Nuance comes with Averna and Art in the Age’s gingersnap liqueur, Snap. Rounded out with a bit of coconut cream and cacao nib tincture, it’s an unusual, dessert-like beauty that’s not too sweet. I hope this one stays on the menu awhile.
CLOCK BAR, Union Square – With the just-updated, new seasonal menu at Clock Bar, comes Fizz of Fury ($14), a recipe from the bar’s general manager, Philip Barcio. Light for a bourbon and port-based drink, it gets froth from egg white, while lemon and fresh dragon fruit puree give it an unexpected tart.
COMMONWEALTH, Mission - At my latest visit to what has fast risen to the to an overall favorite restaurant (see The Latest), there were numerous wine high points:
1. 2004 Weingut Brundlmayer St. Laurent, Austria ($57 bottle) – complex berry, spice, acidity
2. 2009 Handley Cellars Gewurtztraminer, Anderson Valley ($10 glass, $39 bottle) – blossom, spice, grapefruit, clean and dry
3. 2008 Luca Ferraris Ruche, Piedmont ($11 glass, $42 bottle) – floral, fruity, bright
4. 2007 Chateau Flotis Negrette, Elles, Fronton ($8.25 glass, $32) – rustic, medium-bodied, floral, dried fruit