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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

Bubbly Events

Nectarine Blossom & Honey Giveaway from Jo Malone Saks SF

September 27, 2011

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

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.

Cocktail Recipes, Drinks

Pimm’s Cup 3 Ways: Sparkling, Updated & Classic Recipes

August 28, 2011

I’ve been ignoring all the back-to-school sales and mentally trying to turn this into an endless summer. Sadly, the weather is making it quite apparent that autumn is on its way.

But I’ve been savoring some flavors of summer this month. While I never made it to a tennis or polo match this summer, I did indulge in the classic English summer drink at The Bubble Lounge SF: The Pimm’s Cup.

The Pimm’s Cup cocktail has a rather convoluted history–even for the drinking world–where so many tales are fuzzy because the people telling them are slightly fuzzy-headed.

We do know it was created in 1823 by a man named James Pimm who ran the popular Oyster Bar in London, according to the official site, fetchingly named Anyone For Pimms. The custom was slurping oysters and slugging back London dry gin, which was a bracing 90-proof spirit that didn’t necessarily enhance the flavors of the bivalve.

Mr. Pimm created a cocktail called Pimm’s Cup No. 1 that diluted the gin with citrus fruits, aromatic spices and water, making it a much more food-friendly tipple. Plus, I imagine he was happy his patrons weren’t getting smashed quite so quickly. His Pimm’s Cup No. 1 became fashionable, and Pimm created a few more versions of his drink with brandy and Scotch and rum, that were later bottled for sale.

Only the gin-based Pimm’s No. 1 endures and it’s featured in eponymous cocktails that might also be mixed with lemonade, ginger ale, ginger beer and an ambrosial selection of fruits including strawberry, lemon, lime, apples and cucumber (yes, cucumber is a fruit.)

This season, Bubble Lounge San Francisco in Jackson Square is featuring the Pimm’s Cup No. 1 a couple different ways. Their signature is the Pimm’s Royale, that’s livened up by champagne. They were kind enough to share the recipe:

Pimm’s Royale

1-1/2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 ounce ginger ale
6 inch ribbon of cucumber, for garnish
2 to 3 ounces champagne
slice fresh strawberry, for garnish
sprig of fresh mint, for garnish

In a tall Collins style glass, add the Pimm’s, lime juice and ginger ale and stir. Slide the cucumber down the side of the glass, then fill the glass 3/4 with ice. Top with the champagne, then garnish with the strawberry slice and the mint.
Makes 1 cocktail

As I was enjoying the Pimm’s Royale, Eileen, a Bubble Lounge bartender, suggested I try her updated version of the classic Pimm’s Cup.

Eileen’s Pimm’s Cup

3/4 ounce simple syrup
3-inch slice cucumber
2 sprigs of fresh mint
1 ounce Pimm’s No. 1
1 ounce gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce ginger beer

In a sturdy rocks glass, muddle the simple syrup, cucumber and 1 sprig mint until fragrant. Add the Pimm’s, gin and lemon juice and stir. Fill the glass with ice, stir again then top with the ginger beer. Garnish with the remaining mint.
Makes 1 cocktail

For the classic recipe , listen in to National Public Radio’s Michele Norris doing a fun interview on Pimm’s Cup history with the catering director at Wimbledon, where Pimm’s No. 1 is the unofficial beverage.

Bubbly Events, Champagne, Drinks

Best Discoveries from the Champagne Grand Tasting

June 3, 2011

The Champagne Grand Tasting by the Champagne Bureau featured more than 32 champagne houses pouring their best bubbly.        Courtesy Dakota Fine Photography/CIVC

The Grand Champagne Tasting at the Westin St. Francis last week was glorious. Walking into the light-filled room done in gold and crystal on the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis was like stepping into champagne heaven.

Around the room that offered a panoramic view of San Francisco on a sunny day, more than 100 different styles of icy champagne rested in silver buckets, just waiting to be tasted.

The first of its kind tasting was presented by the Champagne Bureau, the U.S. office of the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC), a 70-year-old trade organization. The CIVC’s main mission is making sure the trademarked word champagne isn’t applied to sparkling wines from other places in the world.

“We have to defend this idea that champagne is from Champagne,” said Thibault le Mailloux, the new communications director of the CIVC visiting from France.

One of the best ways to do that is by letting people taste fine champagnes from smaller houses that often don’t get as much attention from consumers.  “We thought this was an opportunity to show the diversity and richness of the Champagne area,” le Mailloux said.
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My favorite discovery of the day was the brut rosé by Charles de Cazanove, a lively wine that tasted of wild strawberries. It’s also poured at Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen + Bar in NYC’s East Village, so you know it’s gotta be good.

I experienced some other new wines as well:  Champagne Thienot 1999 Grande Cuvée Alain Thienot, a $150 prestige cuvée that offered bread and toasty notes and finished with a surprising youthfulness; and the Champagne Mailly 2000 Grand Cru Les Echansons.  The wine crafted from 75% pinot noir/25% chardonnay had lovely notes of quince jam followed by brioche. Juice from their oldest vines goes into the 11,000 bottles of this cuvée dedicated to sommeliers.  Oh, and the 82-year old Mailly doesn’t use pinot meunier.

But as the ultimate comfort beverage, I think champagne is also about re-experiencing favorite flavors in wines like:

  • Vilmart et Cie’s 2001 Coeur de Cuvée, a delicious rosé that tasted of dried stone fruit and toasted nuts;
  • Bollinger’s 2002 La Grande Année, disgorged just two months ago and tasting richly of dried stone fruit;
  • The juicy and crisp Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvée, an amazing champagne value from the newest house in Champagne – (also love the Aria from La Wally on their website)
  • Pol Roger‘s NV Brut, a wine with a remarkable balance of freshness, delicacy and age;
  • Philipponnat’s 2004 Grand Blanc bursting with apricot flavors poured by Msr. Philipponnat himself and
  • Devaux’s Cuvée D with its delicate flavors of mushroom and subtle fruit.


Cool Bars

Cocktails & Mystery: A Visit to Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency

April 1, 2011
The website for the new bar Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency draws visitors in with a mystery of Lorraine Adeline Wilson, a redhead who went missing back in 1932.

The website for the new bar Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency draws visitors in with a mystery of Lorraine Adeline Wilson, a redhead who went missing back in 1932.

Cocktails and mystery just seem to go together. Or at least they do in detective stories of the 1930s and 40s, my favorite era for mystery books and classic movies. Whether it’s the fabulous Nick & Nora Charles and their love of martinis, rye and champagne; a hard-boiled private dick out of Raymond Chandler; or a curious tale of a Notorious villain under Suspicion, spirits and suspense go together.

Last night I visited the new Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency, the bar-within-a-bar at San Francisco institution Bourbon & Branch in the Tenderloin. The new bar’s theme was inspired by a true mystery that can be summed up as The Lady Vanishes.

During renovations for the new space, owners discovered a handbag with a 1932 driver’s license, lipstick, a nail file, and a torn up pair of stockings hidden between two walls. The license belonged to Lorraine Adeline Wilson, a slender redhead with blue eyes who had lived in the Mission. She was 29 at the time.

With this curious set of facts in mind, I rang the buzzer near the slightly seedy corner of Jones and O’Farrell streets. It was just after 6 p.m. A brunette opened the door, filling the entrance with her body. I gave her the password and she moved aside, allowing me into the dark room. Waiting for my eyes to adjust, I carefully walked about 39 Steps. We paused as she stopped to unlatch another door.

I stepped into a small, dim room with a long bar full of bottles, flocked velvet wallpaper and a pressed tin ceiling. The room was back-lit by a frosted window at one end; a mirror image of the words Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency filled the center of the pane. It was quiet except for a grainy voice warbling a song from another era. A Platinum Blonde showed me to a metal tractor seat at the bar. Before she left, she handed me a small manila envelope.

I was just about to look inside, when I noticed the bartender peering at me expectantly. He was a Thin Man.

Tune in this weekend for the thrilling conclusion…