With all the concern about the carbon footprint of products, local spirits play a leading role at many San Francisco venues. The city is fortunate to have a handful of distilleries nearby, including Anchor Distilling Company, Distillery No. 209, Hangar One, St. George Spirits and Napaâ€™s Domain Charbay. â€œWe are lucky to have a strong local heritage of wine, beer and spirits producers,â€ explains Greg Lindgren, partner of Rye, Rosewood Bar and 15 Romolo in San Francisco, adding that itâ€™s natural to want to support local businesses.
â€œWe have massive support for local spirits and local distillers [and they support us],â€ notes Erick Castro, bartender at Bourbon & Branch. â€œWe really push a lot of their products because they open their doors to us, and help us learn about the spirits. We give them feedback and serve as a sort of research group for them on their products.â€
Brian Sheehy, co-owner of Bourbon & Branch and co-founder of beverage consultancy, Future Bars, notes that the partnerships with local distilleries run deep. â€œWe send our mixologists out there to discuss the trends with them, and they will help us in making some of our own bitters,â€ he says, noting that homemade bitters will be big in his bars this year. â€œWe also have a local partnership with Small Hand Foods, a local producer of mixing syrups.â€
This emphasis on local distilleries complements the focus on fresh produce.
â€œIn San Francisco, the whole stereotype is us being into fresh produce,â€ says Castro. â€œHow could we not be given that we are privy to so much great produce around here? Everyone competes for the best juices and fruits.â€ Castroâ€™s Kentucky Buck cocktail, priced at $12, features Bulleit Bourbon, lemon juice, homemade turbinado simple syrup, strawberry, ginger beer and Angostura Bitters.
â€œUsing fresh produce allows us to take something old and make it new again,â€ concludes Castro. â€œThere is still a respect for the classics.â€