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creme de cassis

Cocktail Recipes, Drinks

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

September 30, 2011

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 its 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 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

Champagne, Drinks, Pop Culture

White Stars, Anemones & Black Currants: Bubbly Questions Answered

October 20, 2009


I’ve gotten a few questions lately at my site The Bubbly Girl so I thought I’d answer a few of them in one post. If you have a question about bubbly or cocktails, feel free to ask!

Q: Mal wrote to ask how long the Perrier-Jouët bottle has worn its fabulous cloak of white and gold anemone flowers?

A: The Perrier-Jouët family has always had an artistic flair, shown most notably in the Chateau Perrier and their home that has been converted into the Maison Belle Epoque on the Rue de Champagne in Epernay. In 1902 Henri Gallice commissioned famed artist Emile Gallé to create a special design for the Perrier-Jouët bottle that captured the artistry and spirit of the art nouveau movement. Gallé painted white and pink anemones outlined in gold with tendrils that hug the curves of the bottle. Apparently, with wars and other drama affecting the maison, the Gallé design sat unused for 60 years. It was unearthed in 1964 when a wonderful vintage inspired Perrier-Jouët to create a special cuvée called Fleur de Champagne, aka Belle Epoque in Europe. It was unveiled at Maxim’s and  Cabaret l’Alcazar  in Paris to mark Duke Ellington’s 70th birthday.

Q: James, a recent transplant to San Diego, asked where he could find crème de cassis? In Japan, there’s a popular drink called Orange Cassis that’s a blend of crème de cassis and OJ that he wants to recreate stateside.

A: Luckily for James, crème de cassis — which is black currant liqueur — is somewhat popular in the U.S. and Europe. It’s an ingredient in the classic champagne cocktail the Kir Royale or the white wine cocktail called a Kir. It should be available at most well stocked liquor stores — especially the old-school ones. The thing I like about creme de cassis is that its kind of sweet balanced by a tang on the back end. There’s a wide variety of styles of crème de cassis out there — some are more commercial and cost about $10; others like Massenez and L’Heritier Guyot are more artisanal and can cost about $20 to $30. For more brands, check out this crème de cassis discussion on Chowhound.

Q: Valerie wrote wondering what champagne to drink now that Moët & Chandon isn’t making White Star any more?

A: I wrote this post about the demise of White Star earlier this year, though I’ve been seeing it around for much of the year. You might try the new Imperial, the cuvée that Moët created to replace the top-selling White Star. Imperial isn’t quite as sweet, but it’s very tasty. If you loved the slight sweetness of White Star, then why not give Nectar Imperial, Moët’s demi-sec style champagne a try.

Cocktail Recipes, Pop Culture

Celebrate Bastille Day with a Kir Royale!

July 14, 2009

Quel horreur! Francophile that I am, the Bubbly Girl has been so busy today that she nearly forgot the significance of July 14. I might have forgotten completely if not for this timely wine lifestyle email called The Daily Sip from Bottlenotes.  It’s Bastille Day, the day when French people celebrate independence. I was just in France

I cannot believe I paid 12 euro for this teensy tiny Kir Royale at a cafe near the Louvre Museum. I savored every drop. (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

(Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

in May for a champagne story in Champagne and stayed near the Bastille.

Of course, I also made sure to have a Kir Royale, a blend of the black currant liqueur creme de cassis and champagne, which is one of my favorite classic champagne cocktails. I cannot believe I paid 12 euro for this teensy tiny Kir Royale at a cafe near the Louvre Museum. I savored every drop.

The drink has  story behind it too; as I detail in The Bubbly Bar, my champagne and sparkling wine cocktail book that’s being released on Aug. 25.

It was named after Felix Kir, the mayor of Dijon, France who played an important role in the French Resistance. Actually there are two wine cocktails named after Felix. The Kir pairs dry white wine with crème de cassis. But add Champagne, and it becomes a Royale. To make your own Kir Royale, add a tablespoon of crème de cassis to a glass of cold brut champagne or sparkling wine. Twist a strip of lemon peel over the glass — this is important! — and drop it in.