Thursday, January 15, 2009


This blog post is about 3 weeks late, and that is only because 3 weeks ago I did not have this blog. I reviewed and rated this restaurant on FoodBuzz, so if you want to check that out you can go here.

My best friend Michelle came home to visit from Ireland. She lives there now. So my other good friend Melissa and I decided it would be best to go visit her over the holidays seeing as San Ramon, is much closer to us than say, Ireland.

The day after Christmas, we drove up to the Bay Area to spend a few days with Michelle and her family, and since we were so close to the city, decided one night to take the BART into San Fransisco. I have family up there. My aunt lives in Berkley, one cousin goes to CAL, one cousin lives in San Jose, and another is a bartender at this swanky little place called, Absinthe. It's located in the Hayes Valley, and if you were to take BART, you would hop off at the Civic Center stop, and walk a few blocks and BAM! There you would be.

We showed up on a busy night, no reservation, and just a lowly text message to my cousin letting him know we were coming by. The place was packed, people were waiting outside, and we pretty much figured we were screwed. Erik, my cousin, handed us the bar menu and before we could even make a decision, was back with 3 concoctions for us to sample.

Michelle grabbed up the Ginger Rogers, which we both agreed would have been perfect for our friend Andrea back in Atlanta. It's got gin, fresh mint, ginger syrup, lemon juice and ginger ale and is served on the rocks with a squeeze of lime. Even though Michelle was fighting some sort of cold thing, we all stuck our straws into her drink and stole a sip or two. I hate gin, but for some reason this drink was delicious and didn't even slightly resemble a gin laden beverage.

I chose the Galapagos, which the website says is Pisco, Kaffir lime leaf muddled in pepper syrup, lemon-lime juice, and a splash of grapefruit juice. Served up with sunken brandied cherries, and let me tell you it was to die for. It's was sweet and spicy and those brandied cherries were AMAZING.

Melissa got the Citron Lemonade, in fact I had it first, but she wasn't digging the martini, so we switched drinks. This one has Ketel One Citron, ginger syrup, fresh lemon-lime juice, ginger ale and a topping of cranberry juice. It was pretty delicious and I guess is the alcoholic version of their "Absinthe Lemonade", so even if you don't drink you can enjoy the virgin version of it.

After she finished her drink, she got brave and ordered the Absinthe. It's actually pretty interesting how the drink is properly prepared. Basically you put a shot into the bottom of a fancy glass, and then place a sugar cube over a slotted absinthe spoon, and then slowly drip water over it with an absinthe fountain as it dissolves. It gets all creamy opaque and is then called "louche" which I believe roughly translates from french as "cloudy".

I tried it. It's pretty rough for anyone who doesn't like Licorice, which I don't, but I managed to enjoy the ritual of it, so no harm no foul. It's not as syrupy sweet as something like Jagermeister, and it's got a bit of a kick to it at the end, almost like a burning feeling which makes sense considering it rounds in at about 127 proof. It's distilled though wormwood, and was once believed to be hallucinogenic, but I never saw the green fairy. Melissa ended up sipping on that the whole night.

I opted for a bit lighter of a drink for my dinner cocktail and got a drink that I don't see on the websites menu, but basically it was a tequila martini, with pomegranate liqueur and a floating lemon rind of absinthe set ablaze, then dunked to add. It had that same licoricey bitter spicy burny aftertaste, but the tequila calmed it down.

We finally found some seats at the bar, and with a bit of help, we ordered some food. They got the Absinthe Burger, medium rare, which I stole a bite of, and it was to die for, and I got the Chicken Breast Sandwich. It had pretty much the best bacon I've ever tasted on it, with some garlic aioli (yes I know thats a fancy word for mayo, and I LOATHE mayo, but when in Rome...) greens, and avocado on this rusticy grilled toasty bread that made me wanna die right there. It was that perfect of a meal. We also got a side of fries which came adorably wrapped in a menu.

Absinthe also has like THE BEST French Onion Soup in the history of the world. Melissa pretty much devoured 2/3rds of it.

Then we got the beet salad, and Melissa pretty much finished that off too. Oh did I mention that Melissa said she wasn't hungry before we even got to Absinthe?

We finished off our night with a yummy flammable coffee drink with 151, cinnamon, hot coffee and fresh whipped cream. The presentation alone was worth the trip.

Caramelizing the sugared rim...

Adding the cinnamon...

Alcoholic Coffee Perfection. (Thank God for the BART)

We paid our bill as we sipped this last drink...

It's Absinthes versions of a Pimm's Cup, called the 21 Hayes. It's Damrak Gin muddled with cucumber, a healthy splash of Pimm's No.1, lemon-lime and simple syrup shaken and served up with a fresh cucumber slice plus those yummy housemade cocktail onions, that are brined in brandy and juniper berries.

Melissa ate all those too.

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  1. Mmm, that looks like a delicious evening. Too bad I didn't get to eat anything since Melissa got to it first. :(



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