The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2013

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Page 90 of 148

HOT PROPERTY Palatially Palatable THE COCKTAILS MATCH THE AMBIANCE AT SAN FRANCISCO'S PALACE HOTEL by Meridith May C armichael Leuterio is a pedigreed beverage director. As House Mixologist for San Francisco's Palace Hotel, a member of The Luxury Collection, Leuterio is also a Certified Sommelier. The upscale beverage program is part of PHOTO: JOHN CURLEY Overlooking the Garden Court Dining Room at the Palace Hotel, House Mixologist Carmichael Leuterio with Manager Tom Scaramellino. The Therapy Cocktail created by Carmichael Leuterio for The Palace Hotel, San Francisco (see photo on page 88) ◗ 2 oz. Purity Vodka ◗ ½ oz. aloe vera juice ◗ ½ oz. white grape juice ◗ ¼ oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur ◗ Dash of Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters ◗ Muddle three pink pep- percorns, stir with ice and strain. Garnish with three pink peppercorns. vodka cocktail that did not mask the spirit. TPM: Do you think it is a challenge to make a drink with a high-end vodka, so the vodka is still able to show through? Carmichael Leuterio: Well, I prefer strong drinks and work with brown spirits all the time, so yes, it was a challenge for me. I chose Purity Vodka because it has a clean profile with a pleasant taste and stunning clarity. I actually approached it as I would a rye: How could I keep the nature of the spirit alive? TPM: How would you describe a successful cocktail? CL: A good, balanced drink is usually the result of not cutting any corners. If you get the temperature of the drink correct and at the right dilution, it should be "boozy and palatable." In this town, it's not unusual for a cocktail connoisseur to expect to wait 15 minutes for a well-made, well-thought-out drink. TPM: And what about measurement? CL: Well, precision is key . . . but skilled bartenders don't necessarily have to use a jigger. Eyeing is a good test; you have to train yourself for that kind of "feel," because even an extra quarter of an ounce miss pour can drastically change a cocktail. TPM: What was your strategy in creating this drink? CL: I worked with the philosophy of making it a vodka-forward drink, highlighting the base spirit. I experimented with more than 30 combinations until I got it right. You have to know your modifiers, bitters, etc. to approach this super clean vodka. If you just "add ingredients" to it, then you are not using the organic nature of Purity Vodka to its fullest potential. To create our Therapy Cocktail, I used the lushness but neutrality of aloe vera, which highlights the vodka's fullness and body; the sweetness of white grape juice, which doesn't change the vodka lavor proile; Domain de Canton Ginger Liqueur for its subtle spice; Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters; and a garnish of three pink peppercorns. the group's Cocktail Collection, indigenous to all Luxury Collection properties. But the freedom given to each hotel is a smart move by management. "We have total license to be part of the local landscape," explains Hotel Manager Tom Scaramellino. The Palace is a unique—and historical—destination. Its architecture and storied past is one-of-a-kind. So is Carmichael's approach to cocktails." The hotel's rich and romantic cocktail history began in the late 1890s, when bartender William Boothby, who worked at The Palace during the Gold Rush days (the "original" Palace hotel opened in 1875 and the "new" Palace, with its present location on Market Street, opened in 1909), wrote a concise guide called Cocktail Boothby's American BarTender, steeped with almost 400 recipes and "much valued information relating to the retail liquor business." Inside the white marble-columned, glassdomed Beaux Arts–style Garden Court, known as one of the city's most prestigious hotel dining rooms, THE TASTING PANEL met up with Carmichael Leuterio and Tom Scaramellino to talk about balanced and measured drinks. We also set Leuterio to task to make a creative 90 / the tasting panel / may 2013

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