Now, I'm more into putting the first part of 'cocktail' into my mouth, but if I have to have an alcoholic beverage, I want it to be a metaphorical representation of my personal human experience. That’s why I’ve created this series, to investigate what the essence of San Francisco neighborhoods would look like in cocktail form.
Long has the Manhattan reigned supreme as the classic cocktail. The flavor evokes the elegance of the borough for which it’s named, demanding respect from anyone who drinks it. Though it’s a relatively uncomplicated mixture — whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters — it keeps Manhattan cemented in urban royalty, which is totally unfair considering how much higher San Francisco’s rent prices are.
[jump] We’ve lived under an East Coast shadow for far too long, which is why this exercise is so important. It's time to exercise our superior mixology muscle and begin the process of turning theoretical cocktails into classics.
In this first installment, we’ll be taking a look at what it takes to turn the Mission into a cocktail, which is sure to inspire a great deal of debate, because it’s the Mission and everyone has varying perspectives on it. That said, be like a margarita and take it with a grain of salt (hey-o!). This fake cocktail is not a declaration of your entire identity, this is for fun.
I called upon an expert to help me uncover what a Mission cocktail would be made of. Nora Furst, bar manager at Lolinda and Techo de Lolinda graciously humored me, agreeing to help me understand the authentic, drinkable essence of this iconic locale.
First Nora took me through her thought process: “Clearly, working in the Mission, you want to appeal to the people that live and hang out there. I think there’s an aesthetic of what people expect from a place in this neighborhood.”
Then she jumped into the details. “I really just want to go tequila with it, that makes a lot of sense with the history and the vibe of the Mission.” I’m glad she didn’t say bacon-wrapped hot dogs — they’re too accurate a representation of my soul.
She went on to tell me, “I think of it as a vibrant colorful place that changes a lot. My boyfriend is from S.F., and grew up in the Mission, so I asked him what he thinks it might be. Change is a big thing that he talked about. The one constant in the Mission is that it always changes. He said he always drank a lot of Hennessy so you could put that in the cocktail.” Tequila and Hennessy — we’re definitely getting drunk here.
“The cocktail I kept thinking of is the Paloma — tequila, grapefruit soda (traditionally Squirt),” Nora mused, adding, “With an element of change, you could do a float on it, or a Campari ice cube that would melt so as you drank it, it would get more bitter. Having something carbonated, lively on your tongue, that feels exciting to drink, would reflect the essence of the Mission.”
Ultimately Nora left me with three components: First, tequila, because of the neighborhood's Latin roots. Second, an element that changes the drink over time, because metaphors. And third, carbonation, because no matter what, the Mission is always a lively place. All joking aside, a Paloma with Campari ice really would be a great representation of this incredible neighborhood, and would taste pretty damn good.