Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Have a Pleasant Evening at Rickhouse

The Pleasant Evening is a grapefruit riff on the Kir Royale featured at Rickhouse.

I’ve been to Rickhouse several times for special events, but I recently got to hang out there  while showing around a bartender visiting from Chicago. And now it’s become my favorite bar in San Francisco.

Once the door closes behind you, I like the way it feels like you’re in a different place. With it’s rough wood paneling, dim light and chicken wire detailing, the bar is set up to look like a rick house, a warehouse out in the country where barrels of whiskey are stored. Even the bathrooms are kind of like visiting an outhouse, sans the aroma.

Rickhouse is well-known for its punch bowls, like the popular Pimm’s Berry Punch. But we  were impressed with the creative cocktails on the menu, most of which were just $8.

We slid into the open seats at the end of the bar and immediately started chatting with a friendly couple who had come down from Fairfield one one side and a businessman visiting from Boston on the other. But the center of attention was our bartender Ricky Paiva, who sported an impressive mustache that twirled up on the ends.

In between mixing cocktails like the sparkling Pleasant Evening and the Blue & Red Smash, a Bulleit Bourbon cocktail with muddled berries and mint, Ricky told us the story behind his mustache.

Ricky Paiva is one of the most entertaining bartenders at Rickhouse.

Most people think it goes with his authentic old-time mixologist look. But it was a remnant from his stint in a friend’s Burt Reynolds style wedding, complete with leisure suits and Lonnie Anderson white wine.

Bartenders are cool about sharing recipes for their drinks. When I asked how to make a Pleasant Evening, Ricky printed a small receipt with the recipe and the type of glass to make it in. So here you go:

Pleasant Evening

1/2 ounce crème de cassis

3/4 ounce fresh grapefruit juice

2 dashes peach bitters

3 ounces brut sparkling wine

grapefruit peel, for garnish

Shake the cassis, grapefruit juice and bitters in a shaker to chill, then strain into a champagne coupe. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with grapefruit peel.

Makes 1 cocktail

Nectarine Blossom & Honey Giveaway from Jo Malone Saks SF

A sparkling cocktail that blends cucumber, persimmon and orange flower water awaits at the Saks SF Wild Bluebell launch party 3 p.m. Friday. Retweet the invite to win a full size Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom Cologne.

It’s been a whirlwind weekend of pairing mixology with fragrance at the launch of Jo Malone’s Wild Bluebell scent in the Bay Area. While I’m not mixing cocktails, I’ve had a lot of time to explore the some deeper and more exotic fragrances in the line.

The whole idea behind Jo Malone’s fragrance line helping people create their own  custom scent by combining different colognes.  I love the way dewy and fresh Wild Bluebell smells with Orange Blossom, Grapefruit, and 154. But my favorite pairing is Wild Bluebell with juicy Nectarine Blossom & Honey.

Nectarine Blossom & Honey smells just like a fresh ripe fruit mixed with vetyver, acacia honey and black currant.

Wild Bluebell launches at Saks Union Square on Friday Sept. 30 – you can  RSVP at 415-438-5243 for the 3 p.m. presentation. Danielle Morgenstern of Jo Malone Saks decided to sweeten the invite:

She’s giving away a full size bottle of Nectarine Blossom & Honey Cologne ($110 value) to one lucky girl – or guy. Here are the two ways to enter:

On Twitter: Follow @thebubblygirl

AND retweet the following:

Jo Malone Saks SF & @thebubblygirl launch Wild Bluebell at 3 p.m. 9/30 Follow & RT to win tinyurl.com/3as54f6

On Facebook:

LIKE The Bubbly Girl and tell us about your favorite Jo Malone Fragrance.

The contest starts today Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. PST and ends at 10 a.m. Sept. 30. I’ll contact the randomly selected winner to get your mailing address.

Sparkling Grape Harvest in Sonoma
& the Tiziano Cocktail Recipe

Pinot noir grapes for sparkling wine are being harvested at Iron Horse Vineyards in west Sonoma County.Â

The sparkling grape harvest is under way in Sonoma wine country, and of course that means it’s time for harvest parties.

Saturday was the Flavors of Fall Festival at Korbel Winery in Guerneville, which is the largest sparkling wine producer in the United States. The history of the winery dates back more than 100 years when three brothers from Bohemia started a farm in Guernville. They found that nothing grew that well, except for wine grapes. They made their first vintage of sparkling wine in 1882, using grapes that were readily available locally and the same fermentation method as used in Champagne region of France.

If you’ve never been to Korbel, you’ll find it’s a very picturesque property that spreads out among majestic redwood trees. The garden tour takes guests behind a ornate wrought iron gate that’s usually locked and into pathways lined with creeping hydrangea, heirloom roses, elderberry, dahlias, anemone and a variety of other exotic plants. The garden is also a magnet for butterflies; deep sapphire blue swallowtails flitted about. One of the most impressive sights are the ancient redwoods, some of which are more than 1,000 years old.

This stand of redwoods at Korbel Winery in Guerneville is said to be over 1,000 years old.

The winery also offers a range of sparkling wines that can’t be found easily in the market. Since I was signing copies of The Bubbly Bar in the tasting room, I had time to taste some wine. My favorites were the 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine which was dry at just 1.0 dosage, creamy on the palate and full of golden apple and citrus flavors. I was also really impressed with the refreshing Sparkling Riesling made from fruit sourced in Mendocino County. It’s pleasantly off-dry at 3.6 percent sugar with a notes of stone fruit, slatey minerality and good acid structure.

I woke up Sunday to another sunny and hot day in west Sonoma county and the harvest party at Iron Horse Vineyards for members of the Corral Club. We walked up a pathway lined with hand-painted wine bottles holding zinnias from the Sterlings’ garden. Lunch started with duck egg omelets, local sausage and creamy golden cheese with I am the Ocean Reserve. We walked through the tomato, squash and pumpkin patches and hiked up the hill to the tasting room overlooking Green Valley while others line danced. Then the feast began lunch with grilled local lamb, spicy turkey tacos and a jumble of tomatoes along with a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

We started the party with the Tiziano, a wine country cocktail made with fresh pressed grape juice and sparkling wine. If you decide to try this delicious and simple cocktail, juice your own grapes or buy some high-quality bottled grape juice like the Vignette Wine Country Sodas. Here’s the Tiziano recipe:

With fresh pressed grape juice and sparkling wine, Tiziano is a favorite harvest time cocktail at grape harvest time.

Tiziano Cocktail

15 to 20 red grapes for 3 ounces fresh-pressed red grape juice, plus 2 extra grapes

3 to 4 ounces brut sparkling wine

One red grape, for garnish

One green grape, for garnish

Puree grapes in a blender. Strain puree through a sieve into a champagne flute. Discard grape pulp. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with the red and green grape threaded on  a long bamboo skewer.

Variation: This cocktail takes on a whole different hue and flavor when made with green grapes or an aromatic variety like the Muscat.

A Scented Soirée: Jo Malone & The Bubbly Girl Launch Wild Bluebell Sept. 22-30, 2011

Whenever I create a new cocktail, my inspiration usually starts with an amazing piece of seasonal fruit, a fun sparkling wine or a unique spirit that captures my imagination. Then I start adding other flavors to create a cocktail that’s harmonious and complex.

That’s the same way the perfumers at the British fragrance brand Jo Malone blend fruit, floral and spice aromas to create a beguiling scent. I love the way Jo Malone fragrances like White Jasmine and Mint, Nectarine Blossom and Honey and Lime Blossom perfectly capture those natural aromas. Their latest creation is Wild Bluebell, a dewy and slightly mysterious floral scent.

This month I’ll be working with Jo Malone to present a series of interactive cocktail and fragrance parties to explore the elements in the new fragrance Wild Bluebell.

Our heroine Wild Bluebell grew up in a grand English country manor. When she was a young woman, she left home to go traveling the world on different adventures. When she returned home years later, she discovered that her childhood home had fallen into neglect; overrun with namesake wild bluebell flowers. The scent was so intoxicating, she couldn’t resist falling into the fragrant carpet of flowers – just like in the picture above.

Wild Bluebell starts with top notes of wild bluebell and orange flower water, heart notes of persimmon and eglantine rose and finishes base notes of white musk. It’s made to be layered with other scents in the Jo Malone range, the same way spirits like gin and brandy pair with a range of other spirits, liqueurs and fruits.

Call the stores directly to reserve a place at one of these scented soirées:

Sept. 22 – Nordstrom Walnut Creek, 4 p.m.
RSVP: 925-930-7959 ext. 1042.

Sept. 23 – Neiman Marcus San Francisco, 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m.
RSVP: 415-362-3900 ext 211.

Sept. 24 – Neiman Marcus Palo Alto, 1 and 2:30 p.m.
RSVP: 650-329-3300.

Sept. 30 – Saks Fifth Avenue San Francisco, 3 p.m.
RSVP: 415-438-5243.

SF Cocktail Week: A Celebration of Mixology Sept. 19-25, 2011

SF Cocktail Week celebrates the talented mixologists, craft spirits and cocktail bars in the Bay Area with dinners, classes, parties and general merriment.

It might seem like every week is cocktail week in a city like San Francisco, which has amazingly creative mixology bars  in every part of the city.


But a couple of the city’s most respected bartenders – Duggan McDonnell of Cantina and H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir – thought there should be a special time to showcase the best the region has to offer when it comes to drinking. A great cocktail starts with a mixologist’s creative idea, but it takes a bar owner committed to using the best seasonal ingredients and locally distilled spirits and creating a space that’s suited to enjoying hand-crafted cocktails.

The San Francisco Cocktail Week celebration runs from Sept. 19-25 with a creative series of cocktail classes, dinners, parties and pub crawls.

Highlights include:

Opening Night Party: Around the World with Anchor Distillery’s spirits and brews on Sept. 19.

Stag Dining Group international dinner by underground chefs Ted Fleury and Jordan Grosser paired with world-inspired cocktails 15 Romolo on Sept. 20

Shaker & Flask – a cocktail event showcasing the science behind mixology at Big Daddy’s Antiques on Sept. 21

An Iberian dinner paired with Gin 209 cocktails created by Alex Smith at Gitane on Sept. 21

To get in the mood, try making McDonnell’s official SF Cocktail Week drink, the Oxley Refuge & Tonic.

The Oxley Refuge & Tonic is an East-meets-West cocktail starring gin, coconut, lime and cardamom.

Oxley Refuge & Tonic

1-1/2 ounces Oxley Gin
3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
3/4 ounce Perfect Puree of Coconut
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Fentiman’s Tonic Water
ground cardamom
lime wheel, for garnish

Add everything to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, then shake until well-chilled.  Pour into a glass over ice, adding a splash of Fentimans tonic, then dust with cardamom powder, a lime wheel and serve.

Follow these links for more SF Cocktail Week cocktail recipes, event schedule and to purchase tickets or a Gold Pass for admission to most events.