Cocktails of the Week: El Presidente and the Moonraker from Bar Agricole, San Francisco
San Francisco’s now two year old Bar Agricole continues to break new ground, while remaining true to its heart as a modern urban tavern. Tavern? The James Beard award winning design inside and out on the patio where 350 days a year it’s too cool in the city to enjoy, are far from the taverns George Washington would imbibe in. Brandon Jew’s cooking, Andreas Willausch’s service team, cocktails by Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson, and the wine list from Mark Ellenbogen, combined to show that premier cocktails can be the center but also not the entire focus for an excellent restaurant. Though Bar is in the name, this is not just a bar by any means. On 11th Street, part of a block with a classic pizza by the slice parlor emitting the lovely scent of old grease and a nightclub, where the drink of choice of its visitors would be more like Four Loko than a Bobby Burns, Bar Agricole has been instrumental in making the western part of South of Market both safer and more relevant to the city’s overall culture fabric.
The bartenders stick to the classics done precisely with the highest quality ingredients. No foams, cosmos, spheres, and such here. This is home to a special old-fashioned or Ti Punch. Or even better, the Moonraker and El Presidente. The former, served up, is a handsome bronze color featuring both brandy and Denver’s Leopold Bros.’ Peach Brandy for a touch of sweetness. The fennel addition from absinthe and caramel notes of Cocchi Americano complete the magnificent drink. Perfectly balanced and not too strong, this is an idyllic cocktail pre- or even with dinner.
Not surprisingly with the restaurant name’s focus on rhum agricole, rum drinks are quite noteworthy here. El Presidente’s base is Demerara rum based, a 151 proof dark rum. Farmhouse curaçao adds a sugary depth for balance, with grenadine, and some citrus notes from orange bitters. Shaken and served up, this is a refreshing and thought-provoking cocktail. Not sure if it’s the favorite of Mr. Obama…