The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2017

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Page 44 of 116

44  /  the tasting panel  / june 2017 L ike a classic film noir movie in which you discover something new each time you see it, Charlie Palmer's Burritt Room & Tavern in San Francisco—named after nearby Burritt Alley where Sam Spade's partner was gunned down in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon—changes ever so slightly every time I go there. It is one of my favorite haunts when visiting Baghdad by the Bay, and to be sure, when I recently entered the subtly-lit ambience of the tavern that opens onto the dining room, something was different. Then I spotted it: A new backbar shelf—the tavern's third—had been added. But as it was already crowded with the hundreds of rare and unusual spirits the establishment is known for, a fourth shelf was under construction. In addition, there was a new Bar Manager at the helm, Chris Wright, who had been behind the stick here since 2014 but—in keeping with Charlie Palmer's philosophy of promoting from within— had moved up to his new position. And while the cocktail menu retains its Citrus, Savory and Spirituous classifications, an intriguing array of inventive new drinks was evident, such as the 15 Mile Limit, a takeoff on the classic 12 Mile Limit cocktail that refers to the offshore anti-drinking boundary during Prohibition. "We did research on the original cocktail and took it a little further than the legal limit," Chris said. "As you know, we like to push the boundaries here. The base is Four Roses Yellow Label, Rittenhouse Rye, Carpano Antica and five-year-old Real McCoy Rum, with a touch of Campari, Peychaud and Angostura Bitters to round off the edges. The cocktail is barrel-aged for six months and served over a large cube of ice that we hand cut from 300 pound blocks." Drawing upon his many contacts with craft distillers, Chris stocks such rarities as Black Truffle Rye Whiskey from Sonoma County Distilling (too complex for a cocktail, it is best served neat) and Widow Jane Oak & Apple Wood Aged Rye from Widow Jane Mine in Rosedale, NY. During my des- sert at the Burritt Room, Chris created an impromptu cocktail using Widow Jane Rye to cut through the sweetness of the restaurant's housemade s'mores and a citrus mango tart. As might be expected, the Tavern works closely with Burritt Room's Executive Chef Lucas Knox. "We have pushed the envelope with the Savory category as a reflection of what Chef is doing in the kitchen," says Chris, "and try to incorporate a number of his culinary ingredients in our cock- tails, including fresh produce and in addition to citrus, we like to use a lot of herbs. And thanks to the kitchen's sous vide infusions, we're able to put some unique combinations in our cocktails, with his menu in mind." As Sam Spade said at the end of The Maltese Falcon, the Burritt Room & Tavern is "the stuff that dreams are made of." MIXOLOGY Bar Manager Chris Wright of Charlie Palmer's Burritt Room & Tavern, located in San Francisco. Ever-Changing, Yet Always the Same Since Chris Wright became Bar Manager of Burritt Room & Tavern, an intriguing array of inventive new drinks have entered the establishment's Citrus, Savory and Spirituous classifications. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AT CHARLIE PALMER'S BURRITT ROOM & TAVERN IN SAN FRANCISCO by Richard Carleton Hacker PHOTOS COURTESY OF BURRITT ROOM & TAVERN

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