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Friday, February 23, 2024

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CultureFood & DrinkHoliday booze news: Casements' educational advent, floriani corn whiskeys...

Holiday booze news: Casements’ educational advent, floriani corn whiskeys top our tree

Plus: Next year's hottest beer bust, Fort Point's Dungeness-laden beer cocktails.

By essentially elevating every aspect of the traditional concept of the public house, Casements has quickly become the best Irish bar in the city. And lately, the Mission Street watering hole that opened in early 2020 is really hitting its stride. Beyond an excellent Irish spirits-focused cocktail program, its live programming is building steam, the colorfully decorated patio with ample seating is top-notch, and there’s even a “Late Night Nosh” menu of Jewish-Irish fare ’til 1am from Thursday to Saturday. Heck yes. 

For its next trick, Casements is once again putting out a Whiskey Advent Calendar, a one-of-a-kind experiential endeavor that’ll certainly add a little Irish to your holiday season, even on the nights you stay in. Available now online and in-store, the festive box has 24 little drawers with a different boozy Irish surprise each day leading up to Christmas. Think small bottles of single malt whiskeys from distillers like Teeling, Dingle and Glendalough, whiskey blends from Slane and Tullamore Dew, mini-cocktail kits, and even an Irish gin sprinkled in for good measure. The box comes in a Casements tote, along with a legit Túath whiskey glass (like a Glencairn glass, but not so dainty; I love mine), a Powers whiskey beanie, along with the various surprises hidden in the advent calendar. It will set you back $265, but when you consider what you’re getting, it more than adds up. 

Casements’ educational-yet-boozy Irish advent calendar

“The joy that people got out of it last year totally made it worth doing it again,” says Casements owner Gillian NicGearailt, who admits that putting together the calendar’s offerings is a labor-intensive process. “It’s a really great introduction to a lot of Irish whiskeys too. I can guarantee that someone who is into whiskey won’t be familiar with 50 percent of these things.”

Beyond the holiday cheer that the advent calendar brings, it’s really a good time to be introduced to a lot of these whiskeys. NicGearailt says that Irish whiskey is on the precipice of a boom in the coming years, where sales are already threatening to surpass those of Scotch whiskey.

“There are a lot fewer rules about how Irish whiskey can be finished,” she says. “Barrel aging, types of barrels, grains, etc… so there’s so much variety in each bottle.” 

In a cool experiential twist, on each day of the Casement’s whiskey advent calendar, a video will be posted to the bar’s Instagram account featuring conversations with distillers and other players that correspond to each day’s surprise. “Like a fireside chat style,” NicGearailt says. “You can just take shots or sip and enjoy it every day. But if you want a little bit more out of it, come along on the journey with us. It’s really fun.” 

The videos will be watchable by everyone, not just advent calendar folks. So you can either experience the ultimate Irish whiskey FOMO, or swing by 2351 Mission Street and pick one of these lovelies up yourself (and get a free cocktail once you do!) They can also be delivered within San Francisco, but it’d behoove you to hurry, since uhh… December is here on Friday. Sláinte!

Workhorse Rye shares its floriani at Bottle Bacchanal

“I’m not just a local producer, I’m a conduit of my farmers,” says Workhorse Rye owner and head distiller Rob Easter. That’s some tombstone material if I’ve ever seen it, and Easter is making some of the most gorgeous whiskeys I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. After recently settling back into San Francisco, Easter has been tirelessly staging a series of tastings at various bars like The Alembic in the Haight and this Thu/30 from 6-8pm, at Bottle Bacchanal in the Castro.  

You can just taste the care that sets these high-grade spirits apart: California rye and malted barley whiskeys, heirloom corn whiskeys (including a Oaxacan pink corn variety that I’m especially fond of), and of course, a range of aromatic bitters. “I’m definitely the only one who’s distilled all the grains I’ve worked with,” Easter says.  

On Thursday, Easter will be showcasing his latest “Floriani” creations in Workhorse’s “Modern Ancient” line using floriani corn. Colors are core to Workhorse’s spirits ethos, and Floriani corn is expressed in deep copper and red hues. At Bottle Bacchanal, Easter will be pouring both a 100 percent Floriani corn whiskey, and (for the first time ever for Floriani) Grass Valley rye and wheated bourbon mash blend that he calls a “Papi Killer” (in reference to the much-hyped Papi Van Winkle bourbon, natch.) 

There’s a lot of stories to tell around these spirits, and Easter is full of them. Visit him at Bottle Bacchanal on Thursday and stay up on his always-enlightening Instagram clips regarding this ever-evolving library of whiskeys. 

Fort Point Valencia’s newly announced beer cocktails

Fort Point Valencia wraps up new beer cocktails

Fort Point has turned their Valencia Street taproom into ground zero for all of their new launches and next Tue/5, it’ll be the start of a beautiful holiday treat: Beer cocktails. Each of these new cocktails masterfully incorporates some Fort Point faves, along with a little SF inspo. 

There’s a Westfalia Red Ale Irish Coffee made with cold brew from next door neighbors Craftsman and Wolves and topped with a housemade whiskey cream; an obvious hat tip to the Buena Vista Cafe. There’s a Cioppino Michelada made with KSA Kolsch, a clammy house-made michelada mix, and garnished with a Dungeness crab claw and big-ass shrimp (the Fort Point seafood game is on point, so this is a welcome addition). And finally, a Sfizio Spritz, made with Sfizio Italian Style Pilsner, Cappelletti Aperitivo (a wonderful Italian red bitter liqueur) and an orange peel. 

Trumer Pils presents new Berkeley taproom—and new beers?!

Let’s make sure this one doesn’t go under the radar: Berkeley’s Trumer Pils unveiled a swagged out new taproom last month. It’s their first-ever public facing tasting room, where you can have not only Trumer Pils, but other new beers from the Trumer house like a Vienna Lager and Munich Helles. Considering the Pilsner has been the only beer Trumer makes since it came to Berkeley in 2004, this is a very big deal. What’s more? The taproom is also a complete German-style biergarten with food options from a bratwurst sandwich to Squabisch pretzel, and more. 

SF Beer Week gala tickets for the suds star in your life
The best beer festival in town is the SF Beer Week kick-off Gala at Pier 35. Over 100 local craft breweries will be pouring in the annual function on February 9. This is a glorious gathering for the Bay Area’s favorite brews and rare pours of the harder-to-find stuff (The VIP hour has typically included the tapping of the first keg of the season of Pliny The Younger from Russian River Brewing and other things of that nature.) Tickets are now on sale (starting at $80). Consider this a gift idea for the beer lover in the household.

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Adrian Spinelli
Adrian Spinelli
Adrian is a Brazilian-born, SF-based writer covering music, booze, festivals, and culture. Follow him on Twitter @AGSpinelli.

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