Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
Why is our new cocktail called Brass Tacks? For no particular reason except that its color is “brassy”. Let’s get down to brass tacks – we’ve all heard some variation of this expression over the years, and I have always taken it to mean “let’s get down to the essentials, to the heart of the matter.” “Brass tacks” also connotes no-nonsense, no frills, bare essentials, which isn’t a stretch for this drink either. It’s an honest, spirituous drink, though it does have its share of subtle flavors.
The origin of the term brass tacks is a bit murky, but from what I can glean it was first used in Texas in the mid-1800s. It seems to refer to the brass tacks used to bind upholstery or book binding material. Seen in this context, Let’s get down to brass tacks seems to be saying “what holds this thing together?”
Whatever the origin of the name, it’s as good a name as any for an unfussy, brass-colored drink. The understated sweetness of the pear liqueur is offset by the bitter tones of amaro, the spice of cinnamon (a natural foil for pear) and the vanilla notes of Calle 23 reposado tequila (aged in French oak) – served up. ¡Salud!
Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
We recently added our first flight of single village mezcals – all under the Alipús brand. The trio of mezcals – San Juan del Rio, San Balthazar and San Andres – are all produced in the southern state of Oaxaca, ground zero for mezcal. Each mezcal is produced using time-honored methods; agave is wood-roasted in an orno (a pit oven), juice is extracted using a horse-drawn tahona (a large millstone) and fermentation takes place in open-air vats with native, airborne yeasts. All three use Agave Espadin (the most common agave for mezcal, though many others are also used) and are double-distilled in wood-fired, copper pot stills. These production methods are literally the same methods that have been employed in Oaxaca for centuries and represent artisanal, craft distilling at its finest.
Despite shared geography, agave type and production methods, the three bottles have markedly different flavor profiles, making for a compelling tasting session. Each reflect the terroir of their particular microclimate and the unique approach of each mezcalero – and each are fermented in vats of different woods.
The flight is paired with small chunks of orange and pineapple as well as our signature chicharrón salt.
San Andres (47.5% ABV) – 100% Agave Espadin from the Valley of Miahuantlan, Oaxaca with arid, calciferous soil. Distilled by Don Valante Garcia Juarez in Xitlapehua, Miahuantian, Oaxaca. Fermented in cypress vats.
San Baltazar (43% ABV) – 100% Agave Espadin from the Valley of Tiacolula, Oaxaca with rocky, calciferous soil. Distilled by Don Cosme Hernandez & son Cirilo in San Baltazar Guelavila, Tiacolula, Oaxaca. Fermented in pine vats.
San Juan del Rio (47.2% ABV) – 100% Agave Espadin from the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca with ferriferous (iron rich) soil. Distilled by Don Joel Antonio Cruz and family in San Juan del Rio, Tlacolula, Oaxaca. Fermented in oak vats.
Saturday, February 16th, 2013
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
When my managers asked me for my recommendations for large-format bottles to sell at Comal during San Francisco Beer Week, I grew wide-eyed. As a previous employee of three different craft beer bars on the east coast, I am a self-declared beer nerd, and the words “Beer Week” make me foam at the mouth. The opportunity to contribute to my restaurant’s already strong beer list for this special event made me excited.
I guess they weren’t looking to take all of my mere 18 suggestions, but they did pick two of my favorite ales to sell in large format bottles. Starting tonight, Port Brewing Wipeout IPA and Lost Abbey Devotion are available to accompany your meal.
When picking beers to go with our Mexican menu, I steered clear of beers that were too sweet or too tart, nothing too floral or yeasty, and no sours or wild ales (unfortunately, as I love them very much). Whatever I picked had to have bright and crisp qualities that would pair well with spicy, savory dishes. Port Brewing’s Wipeout IPA came immediately to mind. This has been one of my favorite IPAs (India Pale Ale) for years. It’s a hop bomb, but with a decidedly citrusy edge – I often describe it as tasting like grapefruit juice with hops thrown in. At 7%, it’s not quite light enough to have several of, but it does go down easy. If you catch a bite of richer, spicier flavor in one of Comal’s dishes, this will cleanse your palate.
Lost Abbey Devotion is a Belgian-style golden ale. It’s lighter than an American pale ale, but not as light or floral as a Belgian White. It’s bready and spicy, but it finishes clean. I imagine this will be especially well suited for our ensalada picada, hen of the woods mushroom quesadilla, and the whole chicken plato fuerte.
A well-chosen beer can pair well with any cuisine. In addition to the two beers discussed above, we are also offering Golden State of Mind from Ale Industries (Concord, CA) and Blind Spot Dark Ale from Highwater (San Leandro, CA). Come in and celebrate Beer Week with us!
Saturday, December 1st, 2012
There are two recent additions to the cocktail list – Tranquilo, which was just added this week in place of the Del Rio (more on Tranquillo soon) and Manzanita (“little apple”), which features Centenario Reposado, Becherovka, apple-fennel sour and ginger beer.
The apple-fennel sour starts with caramelized fennel & apple in piloncillo (unrefined sugar) which is then infused with cumin, coriander, Mexican cinnamon (canela) and allspice – add lemon juice and you have our twist on the apple-fennel sour.
Becherovka is an herbal bitters made in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic (home of a legendary hot springs) – it is made from a secret blend of herbs, but the prevailing flavor notes are cinnamon and ginger. Despite the presence of both the Becherovka and the spices in the sour, the various herbal and spice notes are subtle, and present themselves in a polite sequence rather than clamoring for your attention at the same time. The addition of the sherry brings the drink into sharp focus and provides a dry, woody finish. And the lemon juice component of the apple-fennel sour brings bright acidity to contrast the spice and sweetness of the apple.
Barman Matthew Campbell relates that one goal with this drink was to build spice directly into the drink so as to steer clear of the popular practice of microplaning spice atop fall drinks. It all adds up to a drink of great complexity that evokes the season and is surprisingly easy drinking.
JP (with help from Matthew C)