ORSON, SoMa – Orson bar manager Ian Adams shows inspired vision in his cocktails. He’s having fun pairing them with a new four-course dinner, but even more so, his everyday cocktails shine with enough twists to keep me intrigued.
Amorosa ($10) comes on the stem in a champagne glass. It exhibits a rosy Campari and house cinnamon-rose kombucha hue, mixed with cachaca and housemade curacao. The elegant kombucha is not too vinegary, but adds a complex, unexpected layer to the drink’s gently bitter Campari finish. Refreshing and unique, I’d return for this one.
A musky, playful course is taken in Ichi the Killer ($10): rye whiskey and lush amari are balanced with Peychaud’s bitters, then given that “little something extra” with pink peppercorn.
Orson is currently running a Blackboard Eats ‚Äč”Hotel California” special menu, a delightful concept of four-course meal with cocktail pairings, each drink and dish named after a line in the Eagles’ most famous song.
The happiest pairing is “Can’t Kill the Beast“: maple-glazed roasted pig in a butter Tabasco sauce, over a can’t-go-wrong mix of cornbread, pickled peaches and broccolini. Fresno chilies are a genius touch from chef Elizabeth Falkner, nodding to California in a Southern-inspired dinner. “Far Away” is a shoo-in pork companion: bourbon, maple syrup, mint, and muddled peach make for a bright, bracing summer cocktail.
I appreciate the smoky, savory creativity behind the dessert cocktail, “Dance to Forget“, utilizing peat standard, Laphroaig 10yr scotch, rich with a house cherry brandy, spicy with ancho chili-infused chocolate and a bit of cayenne. Paired with Falkner’s “Last Thing I Remember” (chocolate, smoke, plum and a sweet black olive ice cream reminiscent of chocolate chip), it is the right way to end a meal.
Last month, Bloom Gin’s charming master distiller, Joanne Moore, was in town at the Boothby Center, sharing her brand new gin release as the world’s first known female gin distiller. That is certainly a noteworthy fact, one I’m encouraged to see. The event was elevated with chef Elizabeth Falkner sharing her love of the gin, creating samples of Bloom cocktails with canapes for a gathering of press and industry folk.
None of this would make up for a lackluster product, however, so I’m pleased to say Bloom is an elegant gin beauty. They certainly are heavily targeting the female population, which, as were shown, statiscally holds greater purchasing power in many arenas, including drink.
Though I’m the target demo, I was a little worried after seeing the admittedly gorgeous pale blue and black packaging and female-centric approach. I tend to resent being placed in “girly” categories (hating shopping, frou-frou drinks, and cute-sy anything). Instead, I find robust tastes, whisk(e)y, traveling the world alone, smoking a cigar… go hand-in-hand with insisting on dresses and heels, being in touch with curves, sensuality, and all things feminine. I similarly resent categorization for men as even a sensitive nature is shunned as ‘for chicks’, when really the best of anything is needed by and characteristic of both male and female, no matter how different we are (i.e. fine drink is fine drink and thus should not be categorized as for one sex vs. another). All this arose sitting through a long presentation on the product’s female focus. Maybe the presentation didn’t work for me, but the gin did.
I’ll be honest, as a gin lover, I still prefer a classic, juniper-dominant or more robust gin all-around. Bloom plays a little too light for me. But rather than being too floral/sweet as I expected, it surprised with subtle balance. Bloom‘s unique properties (outside of gin botanical standards: juniper, coriander, angelica), are cubeb pepper, chamomile, honeysuckle, pomelo. At 80 proof and essentially twice distilled, it’s clean, fresh, floral, with sophisticated hints of each botanical unfolding in every sip. Given the plain fact that many women fear robust spirits or find them too harsh (as with anything, it’s an acquired taste), Bloom should very well accomplish its goal of winning many previous non-gin fans over (I know plenty of men who aren’t yet converted either).
After sampling Bloom in a number of cocktails, my top take away was Ian Adams’ (Orson’s aforementioned bar manager) Green Ginger: Bloom, lemongrass, fresh crushed ginger, lime. It showcased Bloom‘s savory pepper, chamomile and honeysuckle elements.