Okay, so I said that I was killing off this blog, but it refuses to stay dead. I'll wait while you go mix yourself a Zombie.
In honor of the original beginnings of Drink-Well, it feels fitting to revive it with a post on Cocktail Week. This year, I was not celebrating in my current home of Los Angeles. Instead, I was able to make it up to the Bay Area for San Francisco festivities.
The Opening Gala on Monday the 11th was at Le Colonial, which can be a bit difficult to find (yes, it's back in that alleyway), but a very enjoyable venue. And despite the heavy influence of vodka, their cocktail menu is actually pretty decent. Of course, there was a special list for the evening containing a few select cocktails one could pick up in exchange for one of the two drink tickets included in the $25 price tag for the evening, with additional drink tickets available in advance for a very reasonable $5, or at the door for a still reasonable $7.
I had a chance to taste each of cocktails and was at least mildly disappointed. Generally, they were too sweet, and I would only have described maybe one as being "well balanced". Although Camper (from alcademics.com), whom I was finally able to meet in person (both of us being regulars at The Mixoloseum) actually quite liked the drinks that night. Maybe we got our drinks from different bartenders? H. from Elixir was even there to help out, but they seemed to be using him more as a barback. I still had a blast, loved the little bites being passed out, and was able to finish off the evening with a glass of Maker's, bought for me by some new booze friends. Thanks again.
Tuesday night was filled with lots of fun at the United States Bartenders' Guild National Competition (with the local San Francisco competition happening earlier in the day). The evening was held at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room at the top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel (which was quite nice) and sponsored by Tres Generaciones Tequila, which meant that while the judges were able to taste all the competitors' entries, we all sipped on some (mostly) tasty tequila libations. And yes, despite coming from Sauza, these tequilas really are well worth drinking, unlike their infamous mixto tequila.
While there, I actually met up with some LA booze folks, so I ended up spending most of the event with them, cheering on our SoCal representative from the Tlapazola Grill. I apologize to the gentleman, as I can't recall his name. While the Tlapazola Grill isn't well known in the cocktail community, I'm told they've formed a pretty solid cocktail program, so I'll definitely have to check that out. Unfortunately, in the end, the title went to the Las Vegas representative, Armando Rosario.
Those were the only Cocktail week events I went to largely because I was flying to Boston mid-week (more on the booze of that trip later). Wednesday night, I was ticketless, which wasn't too bad as it freed up the evening for me to revisit Bourbon and Branch, which, in my opinion, is the best bar in SF. Sad to say, I was let down a bit there as well. Granted it was still at least a B+, it lowers my cumulative ranking from an A+. Bartender was very friendly, but the drinks were mostly a little off. Not much, mind you, but I hold Bourbon and Branch to a very high standard. Even my old-fashioned was slightly unbalanced. Despite small imperfections, every drink was still far more than drinkable and Bourbon and Branch remains my must-go-to bar whenever I'm SF.
The week in general gave me a mild fear that the cocktail culture of SF might be resting a bit on their laurels. I hope that this is not the case and trust that even if it is, they can't continue for long, given the number of quality bars popping up in Los Angeles and throughout the country. And we can certainly thank San Francisco for their role in that. Cheers!