by Patrick Heig - 324 Reviews - 95 List
Bartenders can do a lot with spirits, fresh produce, and the standard mixers, but many are pushing the envelope with culinary techniques and nontraditional flavors--and getting great results. From Camper English, brainy boozehound and cocktail expert, here's a look at the more exotic cocktails found around the city, with ingredients like vinegar, smoke, and bacon, though thankfully not all in the same drink. (Photo: The Castillian Cup at Gitane)
Updated: October 20, 2009
The Castillian Cup: This unlikely cocktail, invented by Gitane's award-winning bartender Carlos Splendorini, combines Red wine, Pimm's No. 1, fresh strawberry, cucumber, mint and ginger beer for a sparkly, sangria-esque cocktail that's surprisingly tasty and perfect for summer.
The Spaghetti Western: Many of the ingredients in drinks at 15 Romolo don't sound like they're going to work together, but after you've had one or two you learn to trust the bartenders here. Take a leap of faith on the Spaghetti Western, made with rye, Campari, lemon juice, tomatoes, beer, and salt.
The Sherry Shrub: This drink was the winner of a national cocktail contest and has become the bar (and head bartender Neyah White)'s signature cocktail. The shrub is an American Colonial-era drinkable berry-and-vinegar syrup that White helped repopularize in San Francisco and beyond.
The Bacon-Drop: Matching the local, seasonal, sustainable ethos of the food program, the bar at Fish & Farm makes all its own flavored liquors, syrups and mixers in-house, allowing for gastro-cocktails like this: apple-bacon vodka, sweet potato-molasses bourbon, hickory bitters, and orange extract, with a strip of bacon as garnish. However strange, this savory drink tastes shockingly familiar--it tastes just like bacon.