Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Blog Turns 100!

One hundred cocktails, to be honest and accurate. We've missed a few days here and there, but this week we have officially entered our one hundredth cocktail of the day (or "C.O.D." in Rangespeak). It's a nice little milestone, and we're proud to offer you all a daily peek into our humble apothecary shop. If you haven't already checked out the cocktail archives, just click on the "Cocktail of the Day" link in the upper left corner of the screen. We also encourage you to dig through the list and find something you just have to try. As long as it's not too seasonally specific (the Sungold Zinger, for example) we'll be happy to recreate whatever you want. The sad thing is, if these drinks don't make it onto the cocktail list, they may never be made again.

Apparently Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes apply to cocktails, too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Name Game

The Last Word.
Corpse Reviver #2.

If you are a fan of cocktails, you know these classics. Chances are, you not only know the ingredients and have a relationship with their effects, but you likely have some sort of association with their names. The Manhattan is (dare I say it), the most masculine combination of ingredients one can pour into a cocktail glass. The first three letters are M-A-N, for godsake, and would anyone dare label the borough of Manhattan as dainty?

The Last Word? Sounds like your epic search for the ideal cocktail is over. That's that. End of story. Or perhaps the name is a warning? Either way it's evocative. Makes you ask, "Exactly what am I in for?"

Do we even need to discuss Corpse Reviver #2? If this name doesn't make you stop and ponder, you are way too jaded, my friend! When I first heard of this, my first thought was: Corpse Reviver NUMBER TWO? What the hell was number one?

As you know, here at Range we create a new cocktail every night--- which if you're counting, that's roughly 357 drinks per year--- and I'd have to say that we have an easier time coming up with the ingredients than we do the names. We don't always dig deep to find the names (see: "Peach Daiquiri" October 18, 2009), and sometimes we try too hard. For example, my first cocktail to make it on the list was "Oberon", which had pears, thyme, lemon and 209 gin. In Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, the fairies sleep in thyme, and Oberon is their king. Ta-dah... Yeah, I tried too hard on that one. If it takes more than a sentence or two to explain the name, or if you're mining Shakespeare, perhaps it's time to find a different name.

One exception is the "1794", created by former Range bartender, Dominic Venegas. The name refers to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in which (among other things) small farmer/distillers were taxed at a higher rate than were large farmer/distillers, and the results were ugly. At this time rye was the predominant grain used to make whiskey, but because the taxing region excluded parts of what are now Tennessee and Kentucky, the distillers of that region started producing more of what we now call Bourbon, which is made primarily from corn. The "1794" features Old Overholt rye in honor of the original American whiskey. Sure, this explanation takes a minute or two, but it's actually interesting.

Same goes for the "Zyzzyva", created by our own Brooke Aurthur. This cocktail is a take on the aforementioned "Last Word" cocktail, and as such, we used the last word in the dictionary as the name. Sadly, a zyzzyva is an African weevil that is fond of palm trees, so the reference is purely linguistic. Oh, and hostess Serena Burman thought up the name, so thank her some time.

1 1/2 oz. Old Overholt rye whiskey
1 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Punt y Mes

Stir ingredients until chilled, and strain into a cocktail glass. Flame a chip of orange zest over the top and drop into the drink.

1 1/2 oz. Miller's gin
1/2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz. Marie Brizard Apry
1/2 oz. lime juice

Shake ingredients and fine strain into a cocktail glass. No garnish needed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eli in Africa

It's been just about two months since Eli's final night at Range, and he's now officially in Kenya. Well... he might be in Uganda, but he's most certainly in East Africa. We all miss you, Mr. Marias, and are jealous as hell. Or, at least this bartender is.

Not sure exactly when Eli and Erin will be returning to San Francisco (he left this information vague intentionally, I believe), but when they do, we'll be shaking up the mango concoction pictured on his website. We just have to figure out which company distributes Popov vodka in the plastic jug. Mmmmm!

Eli mentioned that there are "hidden messages" within the pictures he selected, so if you're good at deciphering, let us know what you figure out. I have my thoughts, but I've never been that great at puzzles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guess Who Came To Dinner?

That's right. John Waters came in to Range last night.

Famous for being infamous, Mr. Waters has equally delighted and horrified the world with trash films and kitsch for decades now, but it turns out that he's a really personable, friendly guy in person. Range server, Max, is a big enough fan that he knew the fact that Mr. Waters is the proud owner of the world's largest collection of plastic food. That's funny enough that I don't even care to fact-check.

Oh, and he drinks Ketel One Martinis, up with olives.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vin D'orange

Anyone who knows me knows I love Lillet. It's a delicious aperitif on it's own (on the rocks with a slice of orange), and it is a versatile ingredient in cocktails. You might remember it in such drinks as:
The Third Rail
  • 1.5 oz Bulleit Bourbon
  • 0.75 oz Lillet Blanc
  • 0.5 oz honey
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 5 dashes Fee's Brothers orange bitters
  • small chunk of orange
  • Shake, fine strain, serve up. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Lillet is essentially a commercially made Vin D'orange, which is an aperitif made by fortifying white wine with some sort of spirit, and infusing it with orange, vanilla, and other botanicals. Making this and other aperitifs is common throughout France, and each region has it's own specialty. It's a tradition that I want to push here, too, so I have started my own batch of Vin D'orange, using a simple recipe I found in a book called Aperitif, by Georgeanne Brennan. I altered it slightly due to container constraints, and because I can't help but mess with recipes (see Ramos Gin Fizz: Parts 1-4 below). Here's the actual recipe:

6 2/3 bottles French-style rose or white wine
1/2 quart vodka
2 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans
1 lemon, cut into several pieces
peels from 6 Seville or other bitter oranges

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for one month, stirring each day for a week, or until the sugar has dissolved. At the end of the month, using a fine-mesh sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth, strain the wine into another container. The wine is ready to serve in two months.

At the beginning of September I plan to take half of my Vin D'orange, and begin aging it in a small oak barrel I have at home. After a month or two I will combine the oaked wine with the non-oaked wine and it will be ready to drink. Even after just a week it's pretty tasty, so let's cross our fingers that it'll only get better.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ramos Gin Fizz: Part 4

This weekend I continued indulging my Ramos obsession, and I decided to do something crazy: I followed the actual recipe to a tee. The results were so good that I'm afraid that I'll be making them for my girlfriend and myself every weekend, and will certainly get "Ramos Elbow". She insists that she won't put me through the shake-o-rama too often, but I can tell that we both enjoyed them way too much for this to be the end of it. The powdered sugar helped with the frothiness, the heavy cream somehow became light, and the orange-citrus-vanilla balance was complex and refreshing.

Lessons learned:
  1. I suggest using club soda rather than mineral water. The sodium in most mineral water can make your fizz have an slight Alka-Seltzer aftertaste which competes with the more delicate citrus-orange flower combo.
  2. I also cannot overemphasize the importance of going light on both the vanilla and the orange flower water (see Ramos Gin Fizz: Part 3 below).
  3. Use tall glasses so you can have room for plenty of soda water.
Once again, I encourage you to check out the Fizz, as made by legendary New Orleans bartender, Chris McMillian.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


We have had enough people ask us to enable the "comments" feature that we decided to go for it. Comment to your heart's content, but remember what your mom always said: "If you can't say something nice, don't complain anonymously on someone else's blog" ... or something to that effect. Oh, and we also enabled a feature that allows you to easily email a link to this blog to your friends. It's the little white envelope icon just below each post. Spread the word!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ramos Gin Fizz: Part 3

This weekend I had a few people over to my place for brunch. They were all excited about my Ramos Gin-thusiasm, so I broke out my gear, cut up some citrus, and got my shake on. Since my last attempt (see post below) I had purchased some orange flower water, and I decided to substitute half & half for the heavy cream. I shook that thing for five minutes after a two minute dry-shake, and the results were visually impressive. The contents expanded by about 75%, and were practically bursting from the shaker... my guests were on the edge of their seats. Sadly, that's where the improvements over my last fizz ended. These cocktails were a little gritty, and that impressive froth died down after a minute or two. The taste? Let's just say, we were not impressed.

This is what I concluded:
  1. Half & half is no good. It just doesn't have high enough fat content to remain properly whipped up, nor does it seem to fully emulsify.
  2. Orange flower water is potent stuff. Use sparingly! A few too many drops of this stuff and you're drinking grandma's perfume.

One of my guests also mentioned that using powdered sugar (as listed in the original recipe) would help improve the frothiness, so I think I'll try that next time. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that I haven't achieved the perfect fizz, considering I have consistently altered the recipe with each attempt. Silly me.

Oh well. Back to the cutting board.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sungold Zinger

It's back, kids! That savory-sweet glass of perfection that you know and love. This drink has to be one of the most requested drinks we've ever had on the list, and we all have Carlos Yturria to thank. Carlos was our original bar manager, and is responsible for finding our beloved Blood Bank fridge. Here's what's in the Zinger:

Sungold Zinger cherry tomatoes
No. 209 gin

You could try it at home, but why not let us do the measuring for you?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vandals thwarted!

Saturday night was Range's fourth year anniversary, and we celebrated with champagne, margaritas, and peanut butter chocolate ice cream cake. Many of our much beloved regulars were there to whoop it up until late into the evening, and we all patted ourselves on our collective backs for once again offering up some of the finest food, beverages and good cheer in the city. Four years is a significant milestone in this fiercely competitive San Francisco restaurant scene, and we want to thank every person who has come through our doors.

So things were winding down and we were finishing the clean-up, when Patrick noticed the silhouettes of some naughty late night ne'er-do-wells messing with our Google statue (see post below). Without hesitation, the entire staff got up, rushed out the door and confronted these guys, who nervously mumbled some sort of excuse about "checking to see how heavy it was".

Silly vandals... you shouldn't mess with the Rangers.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"What's up with the big light bulb out front?"

If you've been on Valencia in the last week, you've probably noticed the big orange light-bulby looking statue in front of Range. It's 800 pounds of PR, courtesy of Google's new project called Favorite Places, in which celebrities mark some of their top go-to spots. We were fortunate enough to be on Gary Danko's list, and as a result we have this lovely sculpture for a few weeks. Sure, it isn't pretty, but we love that Mr. Danko loves Range. We also have a pool going on how long it'll take before it's either tagged or stolen.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Milk, please."

So, this guy walks into the bar and orders two glasses of milk. Not one. Two. Nice enough guy, but how often do you get that kind of order? Almost never. Sure, you get your occasional orders of milk with the chocolate souffle (because who doesn't like a cold glass of milk with a hot chocolate dessert), but with the salmon? I don't mean to be judgemental, but this was an unfamiliar food-beverage paring for me. However, it got me thinking about the role of milk in classic cocktails. I'm not talking about White Russians here... I'm talkin' about:

Scotch & Milk
2 oz. blended scotch
5 oz. milk
1 oz. simple syrup

Brandy Milk Punch
2 oz brandy
1 oz simple syrup
4 oz milk
ground nutmeg for garnish

(or if you're begging for a real hangover)

Tom & Jerry
12 eggs
8 tablespoons vanilla extract
24 ounces Bacardi 8 rum
4 dashes Angostura bitters
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups whole milk

Ouch! This recipe serves 8-12 (depending on the crowd), but if you serve this crazy mess, I guarantee there will be hell to pay the next morning.

I think I'll just save the milk for my Captain Crunch and coffee.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Summer is in full swing, and we're taking advantage of Mother Nature's generosity. Our cocktail list currently features peaches, plums, raspberries, and strawberries, and you can be sure to find some sort of fruit in the daily cocktail. Grapes and figs are looking good, and I think I'm going to pick up a few honeydew melons for tonight's special cocktail. And for everyone who has asked about "that tomato thing" we used to offer, I can almost guarantee that we'll be bringing back Carlos Yturria's "Sungold Zinger". It's a surprising blend of gin, lemon, and (you guessed it) Sungold Zinger tomatoes, and it was featured in GQ Magazine's Top 20 Cocktails feature in 2008. We'll ask him if it's okay, and then get back to you.

If you're curious about what fruits are in season, we recommend the website for The Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture. Here's a link to send you right to their seasonal fruit chart:


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ramos Gin Fizz: Part 2

Okay. Here's a photo of one of my Fizzes:
It's getting closer. I've been working on the recipe and practicing my shake, and it's definitely coming together. The original Ramos Gin Fizz recipe (listed a couple posts down) yields a deliciously frothy, balanced cocktail that goes down easy like, um... Sunday morning (thanks, Lionel Ritchie, for making that godawful song pop up whenever I think of a simile that uses the word "easy"). Five minutes of shaking is clearly better than three, but I'm just not willing to try ten. I've also found that it's a good idea to wrap the shaker with a cloth of some sort unless you want your hands frozen to the shaker like that kid's tongue to the pole in that movie A Christmas Story. The main way that I've altered the recipe is by cutting back the cream a bit, because I find it a little too rich. Other bartenders have recommended using half & half, and I think they're on to something. Half & half contains between 10.5% and 18% milk fat, compared to 36% for heavy cream, so this should reduce the ever-so-slight butteriness that lingers in your mouth and the glass. Stay tuned.

For those of you who are still squeamish about the use of raw egg whites, check out this story that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle last year. The "Class Act" cocktail pictured in the article was the creation of Range veteran, Mike LaFreniere.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Eli has left the building

Last night, a veritable herd of friends gathered around the bar to send Eli off to Africa in grand style... by making him work his butt off. The quantity and quality of well-wishers reflects not only how many of us like Eli, but also how tight-knit the Range staff is, because practically every employee was present, either working or celebrating. Everyone is obviously sad to see him go, but hey, he’s going to Africa! How cool is that? He’ll be posting stories and photos on his own website, so as soon as it has content we’ll post a link on this blog so you can follow his meanderings.

Be safe, Eli…but not too safe.

Here are some more pictures!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ramos Gin Fizz

I have had a few, and they weren't really my thing. Fluffy. Floral. Ginny. Fizzy. I prefer a more assertive cocktail. Something that steps right up to me and says, "Hey. I'm booze. Now shaddup an' drink!". You know... Manhattans. Martinis. Sazeracs. Shots of room temperature Fernet (no ginger ale, thanks). But for some reason I have become obsessed with this drink. Maybe the whole mixology thing has finally softened my crude edges, but MAN, I feel the need to create the perfect Ramos Gin Fizz.

The problem is, this is a labor-intensive beverage, to put it mildly. Call me a wimp, but I'm not sure I want to make more than one or two at a time. And if I actually succeeded in perfecting the RGF behind the bar, I could open up a Pandora's Box which could slow down production to a crawl, and well... I'm clearly getting ahead of myself. Ask any seasoned bartender about the RGF, and they'll tell you that you have to shake that thing for at least three minutes. Some sources claim that the perfect RGF must be shaken at least ten minutes to achieve the proper froth. Ten minutes? Really?

Still... so tempting.

1 jigger dry gin
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
3-4 drops orange flower water
1/2 lime -- juice only
1/2 lemon -- juice only
1 white of egg
1 jigger heavy cream
1 squire seltzer water
2 drops extract vanilla (optional)
This recipe is taken from New Orleans DRINKS and how to mix 'em by Stanley Clisby Arthur. HARMANSON, Publisher 333 rue Royale, Nouvelle Orleans; 1937

Check out this guy make one:

p.s. You have to respect a bartender that can recite poetry about a Mint Julep while he's making one.

Sad times for Range

We are all a bit melancholy this week because Eli is leaving soon. He says he's going to Africa, but we all have our doubts. I think this is all an elaborate ruse to set himself up in the Witness Protection Program, but I've also heard that he's moving to L.A. to take all the roles that Joaquin Phoenix is now turning down. We'll just have to wait until he sends some pictures of lions eating a zebu on the Kenyan savanna.

Anyhoo... His last night behind the bar is Thursday, July 2nd, so please stop by that night and wish him well while he muddles several hundred cocktails.