Joe Keeper’s San Francisco Bar Crawl: Absinthe

Restaurant San Francisco

Absinthe brings bar prowess to increasingly popular Hayes Valley.

Retail is a bitch. I spend all year for those “magic” four weeks…basically Thanksgiving to Christmas…to make approximately 25% of my yearly income. Bar Keeper becomes less barware oriented and more gift shop oriented. That said, my days are spent selling & wrapping as opposed to discussing cocktails and bar accouterments.

The days between Christmas & New Year’s is a respite for me…and I chose to go on a three-day bar crawl in San Francisco.

Anna (the wife) and I chose Absinthe as our first stop on the crawl. I chose this place for two reasons-the owners are the nicest folks and have stopped by Bar Keeper on occasion, and they have authored “The Art of The Bar”, a great collection of cocktails.

ABSINTHE was simply perfect! We had no reservations and were able to be seated immediately at a lovely table in their dining room. We explained that we were visiting from Los Angeles to drink a lot and eat a little. The waiter understood our goal and accommodated our desires. We would drink a cocktail each; order a nosh, then drink again.

After multiple cocktails, two completely different cocktails stood out as spectacular-the Mujer Verde and the Bob-Tailed Nag.

The Mujer Verde is 1 ounce Hendrick’s gin. 1/3 ounce fresh lime juice, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, 1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse, 1/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse, and a lime twist for garnish.

If the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz had a signature drink it would be the Mujer Verde. The concoction radiates green and yellow hues.

GREEN CHARTREUSE is the only liqueur in the world with a completely natural green color. Only two Chartreuse monks at any one-time know the identity of the 130 plants, how to blend them and how to distill them into this world famous liqueur. They are also the only ones who know which plants they have to macerate to produce the natural green and yellow colors. And they alone supervise the slow aging in oak casks. Ingredients include alcohol, sugar, 130 plants and flowers and the alcohol content is 55% (110-proof U.S.)

YELLOW CHARTREUSE is 40% alcohol (80-proof U.S.). It is milder and sweeter than the famous Green Chartreuse. Yellow Chartreuse was introduced to the world in 1838.

The Bob-Tailed Nag is 2 ounces Michter’s single-barrel straight Rye Whiskey, 1/2 ounce Cocchi Barolo Chinato, 3 dashes mint bitters, add a lemon twist for garnish.

The cocktail is amber in color and tastes like Rye flavored mother’s milk. (Needless to say, I am a huge Rye fan!) The Barolo Chinato is similar to Port and is made from the infusion of appropriate doses of selected herbs.

The Rye is edgy and the Barolo Chinato smoothes all the roughness.

Next stop…Alembic.

Address: 398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
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Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site? Thank you in advance.

You can’t copy the interview word for word, but feel free to link, quote and summarize. Thanks for asking.

I too am extremely excited about Varnish – I hear it may open some time in February.

great article joe, that drink sounds right up my alley, I’ll be sure to check the place out when I’m back up in the city.

well, you saw my Yelp post – and yep, I do like the Association (not necessarily sure I would prioritize it over Edison, which has more stuff going on in its vicinity, though I do like Association’s low-key nature and being next to Cole’s). Also pretty excited about the upcoming opening of Varnish (in back room of Cole’s) — which sought input from bartends at uber-bar Milk & Honey in NYC.

H.C. you’re right that LA has definitely stepped up its game. Have you been to the Association recently? I prefer it over the Edison for drinks these days. Cole’s also a wonderful feather in the cap (well at least now that it’s returned). I have yet to go to Hungry Cat, whose happy hour might be one of the best in the city, just for the high quality of drink for the price.

The Mujer Verde sounds wonderful and I love how it incorporated both yellow and green chartreuse (thanks for the mini tip differentiating the two, btw).

I think L.A. has improved over the last few years in terms of the bar scene (but still got a ways to go) — I personally love how it has been developing in multiple mixology camps from the throwback-to-classics (Seven Grand), to modern-molecular (Bar Centro) and fresh-ingredient-cocktails (Hungry Cat).

LA needs a place like Absinthe to go up a notch in terms of bar quality, but just learning about it from Keeper is helpful. Hopefully we’ll drift farther away from green apple martinis and closer to these kinds of cocktails.

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