We interrupt this stream of Japan-related posts to bring you this note from a much-beloved cocktail bar in the Upper Haight. We returned from our 3 weeks in Japan to somewhat stressful workplaces; then just as we were about to leave work for the weekend on Friday afternoon, we received emails from DD’s grandmother reporting that DD’s dad and stepmom had been in a car accident in Florida. (They were both injured but are recuperating.)
After DD was able to get as much information as he could from family members, he decided he needed a drink. I met him at the Alembic and we ended up having dinner there.
I ordered my favourite Southern Exposure – a great blend of celery juice, gin, simple syrup, fresh lime and mint. DD had asked the bartender to create a drink for him with the descriptors “bitter and spicy.” She crafted a great blend of cognac, black pepper vodka, and nocino. I took a sip and was impressed by its roundness. It was sweet but not cloyingly so. After my first drink and a few nibbles of pickled quail eggs and jerk-spiced duck hearts I then asked the bartender to make something derived from what she had created for DD but with a bit more sourness. She substituted the cognac for rye whiskey and added some sugar and lemon to come up with something delicious and spicy, a nice subtle sweetness and my requisite citrus-acid notes. I now have a new favourite to ask for.
Dinner was fantastic as usual, with some standards, and some new items on the menu. We ordered the Bone Marrow, but also noticed the Onsen Egg – a springtime dish of umami with black trumpets, truffle, parmesan crisps and English peas and shoots. The Emigh Ranch Lamb loin and belly was another highlight; fatty combined with lean and both cuts exceedingly flavourful. Although the belly was a tad too gamy for DD, I thought it just fine. We also wished that there had been more of those lovely pickled ramps to help cut the richness of the dish. The fish crudo this time was Hiramasa, with celery ribbons, asian pear, yuzu yogurt (needed more of a yuzu kick) and shiso.
Other photos from the meal are on Flickr here.