Booze You Can Use

As With Wines, a Wave of Lower Alcohol Cocktails Sweeps S.F.

Bartender Jonny Raglin.
Bartender Jonny Raglin. Photo: Joshua Lurie/Food GPS

Less booze, you say? In a cocktail? And the price is still the same? As the Chron reports, some of San Francisco’s bar stars are spearheading a nascent trend toward lower proof cocktails that are both highly complex and, as with wine, pair better with food because there’s less alcohol to ruin your palate. Prospect bar manager Brooke Arthur, who’s previously talked to Grub Street about her love for sherry-based drinks, points to the recent availability of new products like fortified quinine wines like Bonal and Cocchi Americano, and new vermouths and sherries, that are giving bartenders new inspiration for recipes.

Comstock Saloon barman Jonny Raglin welcomes the shift, calling the usual formulas for cocktail making — in which sweet liqueurs and syrups have to be added to cut the sting of high-proof base spirits — “kind of redundant.” Comstock, which serves a full food menu, offers a number of classic cocktail recipes with lower proof bases, like the Bamboo Cocktail, which is a mixture of sherry, dry vermouth, and bitters.

But will it play in Peoria, especially when you’re talking about getting less drunk for the same price as a Grey Goose martini? A trend like this might not be quick to spread beyond the food- and cocktail-nerdy enclave of San Francisco, but don’t be surprised if you start seeing more vermouth-heavy drinks like Americanos and Half-and-Halfs showing up on bar menus even though they have full liquor licenses.

Latest cocktail trend is to low-alcohol drinks
Earlier: Sommeliers and Wine Geeks Alike Sing Praises of Low-Alcohol Wines [Grub Street]
Local Mixologists Debate the Dos and Don’ts of Cocktail Pairing [Grub Street]
Q&A; With Bartender Jonny Raglin [Food GPS]

As With Wines, a Wave of Lower Alcohol Cocktails Sweeps S.F.