Cocktail of the Week: None But The Brave from Heaven’s Dog, San Francisco
You don’t have to be very brave to order this delightful, refreshing while thought-provoking cocktail. It’s not too sweet, not too boozy, not too wham you over the head with an herbal or bitter taste. The secret to the success comes from an unlikely source: Delord Armagnac, brilliant with its toffee and stone fruit notes. Like Pisco, Cognac, and other brandies, the Armagnac driven None But The Brave refrains from being spirit-driven, but the drinker is aware of the spirit. Pure ginger extract and a hefty dash of allspice dram add a very noticeable spice, a bitter allure from lemon, all served beautifully balanced up in a coupe with the somewhat sweet forward Armagnac as the base.
Why is Armagnac, or its double distilled brother Cognac for that matter, not used more often as the driving force in cocktails? Why must it always be the rum, vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey quintet most of the time? Luckily the likes of Pisco and Mezcal are making cracks in the old quintet armor.
Heaven’s Dog was the first completely non Vietnamese, sit down restaurant created by Charles Phan of San Francisco’s famed The Slanted Door. Both Heaven’s Dog and the flagship have some of the cities most intriguing bar programs, with Heaven’s Dog best known for its also ginger flavored Shanghai Buck to go with the much talked about, slightly disappointingly bland pork belly in clam shell bites. Bartender Trevor Easter should be invited to Trev’s Bistro’s Hall of Fame not just for his name, but his excellent creation showing how the unlikely trio of Armagnac, ginger, and allspice dram can make such a delightful cocktail. It takes a very brave bartender to create something this riveting.