Perfect Storm

  1. Leaky ice maker
  2. Freezer converted into giant block of ice
  3. Repairmen break a wall while “repairing” freezer
  4. Extensive leaks after repair
  5. Pay $250 and go back to step 2
  6. Spend 1 hour chiseling out ice to extract ingredients for dinner
  7. Kitchen transformed into a giant swimming pool
  8. Need a drink
  9. Abundant ice available, none suitable for cocktails
  10. Secret stash of Tovolo ice cubes located
  11. Cocktail achieved

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Level-headed

Dinah Sanders who authored the Art of the Shim, a nice little book about low-alcohol cocktails, is hosting Mixology Monday this month and has chosen shims as her theme. She defines them as drinks that contain less than half an ounce of strong spirits.

One of my favorite discoveries in the book is the Rhum Dandy Shim by Craig Lane of Bar Agricole in San Francisco. It’s red vermouth-based and cleverly uses rhum agricole and absinthe as modifiers. It manages to create a huge amount of flavor with only half an ounce of hard liquor. A very inspiring drink that shows that you don’t have to compromise on taste with these low-octane libations.

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The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel

About a year ago, after a long flight from San Diego to London, I dropped off my things at the Zetter Hotel and had just enough time to enjoy a restorative meal at neighboring restaurant St. John before meeting a couple of cocktailians friends. I suggested starting our cocktail adventures at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel. Going to the Savoy felt surreal in many ways. I had read so much about it, and of course when you are there you cannot help but think about all of the history. I had followed with great interest the events around the 50th anniversary of Harry Craddock‘s death that had been chronicled by Erik Ellestad on his blog. Being able to finally go there was a little overwhelming.

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The Clove Club

The Clove Club started as a pop-up restaurant a few years ago in London. It soon gathered a following, which allowed it to use crowdfunding to open as a regular restaurant in 2013. It was awarded one Michelin star since my visit in August.

The restaurant is located inside the former town hall building in Shoreditch. Immediately after the entrance, a converted closet full of charcuterie made on the premises is an auspicious sign.

You go through a first room where a central bar area is located, and make your way to the slightly more formal dining area which has a completely open kitchen. Unlike the opulent building, the decor is simple and, should we say, a little sparse – white walls, wooden tables and floors, no tablecloths.

The Clove Club

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Tailspin

The Tailspin is another cocktail from the Death & Co Cocktail Book, this one from the Classic & Vintage section.

I realized while making it that it’s a Bijou (gin, sweet vermouth, green Chartreuse, orange bitters) with a Campari rinse.

At Death & Co, they make it relatively Chartreuse- (and vermouth-) heavy with 1.5/1/1 ratios. I am used to 2/1/1 as in, for example, the Bartender’s Choice version, although historically this may be an equal-parts drink (see Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual), like its younger cousin the Negroni.

I used Dolin sweet vermouth, which is lighter than the Carpano Antica used in the Death & Co version. It’s a pretty drink, although a little busy. You would think that, as a fan of the Negroni and green Chartreuse, I would be all over this one. But Chartreuse is richer than Campari, so the cocktail ends up being a little over the top for my taste buds. And there is a lot of Chartreuse in that cocktail.

All in all, it’s best enjoyed as a post-dinner drink.

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Old Harbor Distillery

Old Harbor Distilling

There are close to 100 breweries in San Diego, but only 6 distilleries, including this one that opened just a few weeks ago. Old Harbor Distilling Co. was co-founded by Michael Skubic, head distiller, who also co-founded Hess Brewing. The distillery is located in a nondescript industrial warehouse space in the East Village in a not-so-pleasant part of town. Walking around the building past a few homeless people, I finally spotted a small sign that confirmed I was in the right place (the building now has a colorful mural that makes it hard to miss).

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