What’s that you say? A cocktail on tap? It’s bizarre enough to see wine on tap at several bars and restaurants. But, really, cocktails? Cocktails are supposed to be individually made by the mixologists, right? Only the low grade bars have margaritas swirling in a machine I’m pretty sure.
It’s the next step in the evolution of drinks on draught, starting with beer, then wine, and now the new frontier started by Kevin Diedrich, the bar manager at Jasper’s Corner Tap in San Francisco, cocktails on tap. It seems like a natural progression. Cocktails on tap also seem like a natural companion to the recent discovery of barrel aged cocktails, started by Portland’s Clyde Common. After having a precise, perfectly crafted negroni at one of San Francisco’s century old bars on Nob Hill a few days ago, I thought back to the most recent negroni I had sampled prior to this one. Diedrich’s negroni on tap seemed to be a gimmick at first glance. He was brought in to breathe life into the new restaurant and bar inside the Serrano Hotel. It’s not the greatest of spots for a restaurant: close enough to Union Square for a tourist to visit, far enough from Union Square and close enough to the Tenderloin that locals will look away.
Yet the Union Square area lacks the wealth of worthwhile restaurants and bars that such a premier theatre and shopping district should boast. A bar with negronis on tap doesn’t seem like it would be a worthy addition. With the very capable and innovative lead of Diedrich, one of the city’s top mixologists, the negroni on tap is every bit as nuanced and refreshing as a negroni that takes five minutes to concoct, and at half the price.
The drink originally was just a trail run when Jasper’s opened last summer. Served on the rocks, the drink is made with the mass quantity in a keg, with far more precision than a sangria at a fraternity party. Throw a few cases of Plymouth gin into the keg with sweet vermouth, and the key, campari, mix, and there you go. Run the drink thru the line into the glass on the rocks, garnish with an orange segment inside, and there you go. The pine notes of the campari with some juniper of the gin, and the sweet, fruity glance of the vermouth, with citrus aromas from the twist create a brilliant cocktail…on tap. No, it doesn’t taste like beer.
We’ll be seeing martinis and mai tais on tap at high end cocktail bars soon.