I have this little rule about drinking during the daytime - it's okay if it's after 12:01pm. I have always followed this rule with the exception of one ill-advised but delightfully fun brunch that started at a friend's house, and then moved to a restaurant where we had dessert, followed by dinner. See what happens when you start drinking too early? Calories.
Fortunately, we didn't make the trip over the bridge from San Francisco to Almeda until 1:23pm.
I think I might have mentioned before that I feel partly responsible for getting Hangar One into Ohio (just give me this one thing, okay?), and their tasting room was the one thing I really wanted to experience whilst in San Francisco. What a great experience - well, until these two old ladies sidled up next to us being loud and talking about how they only liked plain vodka and nothing else. No Eau de Vie, no nothing. Explain it to me. If you live out there or are visiting, I highly recommend the trip; it really doesn't take more than an hour to experience the whole thing. We were there on a Sunday, so they weren't working in the distillery, and we got to walk around and be nosy. As you can see from the picture below, it's like Willa Wonka's factory for grownups:
One funny thing that happened while I was there, taking notes, is that the man pouring asked me if I was a reporter or a blogger; it's funny because San Francisco has such a huge food blogging community that he asked right away. There are hardly any food bloggers in Columbus (Here are the only other 2 I know of: Rosie and Jason)
Please read the extended post for all the spiked and juicy details . . .
Info: Hangar Vodka/St. George's Distillery Tasting Room, 2601 Monarch St, Alameda, California (about a 30 minute drive from San Francisco) 510.769.1601. The tasting was $10 and included the glass, which I of course left there.
Okay, let's start drinking: We tasted everything at room temperature (slightly below), with water and puff pastry sticks in between. Amazingly, I could walk out of the building after this was over. Fortunately, I didn't have to drive. Definitions can be found at the end of the tasting notes:
Williams Pear Eau de Vie "Aqua Perfecta": super sweet, with a nice and total pear flavor; very little burn.
Kirsch (cherry) Eau de Vie "Aqua Perfecta": heavier burn and more alcohol flavor than the pear, a good but slightly less pleasing fruit flavor (than the pear) with a really big mouth feel.
Zinfandel Grappa: Super smooth. A long, slow - but not unpleasant - alcohol burn tells me this would be the perfect digestive (after dinner drink and supposed digestive aid).
Hangar One Vodka: Absolutely smooth and rich with no alcohol burn (this at room temp!) Truly the neutral nature of vodka. Let's start infusing!
Hangar One Buddha's Hand Citron Infused Vodka: Extremely intense citrus flavor that tastes precisely of candied lemon peel; so sweet it smack of Limencello (a sweet Italian digestive), but with no sugar. Amazingly smooth with no alcohol burn.
Hangar One Mandarin Blossom Infused Vodka: Sweet, floral with a distinct Clementine nose (well, with good reason); again, really smooth.
Hangar One Kaffir Lime Leaf Infused Vodka: Very limey to the extent of almost tasting soapy; it needs a little squeeze of lime to make the perfect gimlet.
Hangar One Raspberry Infused Vodka: So full of raspberry goodness it's actually red, this had an insanely real raspberry flavor. Despite the fruitiness, this one had the most alcohol burn of any of the vodkas.
St. George Single Malt Whiskey: a light and smooth whiskey (widely considered to be the best single malt whiskey made in the States), the flavor is almost sweet but is soft and lovely - almost feminine. A good sipping whiskey.
William's Pear Liqueur: super sweet pear flavor; a nice alternative to dessert.
Framboise (raspberry) liqueur: Would be nice over ice cream. A very distinct and true raspberry nose; you can smell and taste the seeds especially, which the pourer said was a result of the crushing process.
Info: Hangar Vodka/St. George's Distillery Tasting Room, 2601 Monarch St, Alameda, California (about a 30 minute drive from San Francisco) 510.769.1601
Eau de Vie: literally, the "Water of Life," eau de vie is a pure (no sugar added), clear brandy distillation of fruit juices.
Grappa: from the Italian words for grape stalk, a brandy which is distilled from grapes.
Vodka: (from the Russian word for Water - noticing a pattern?) a clear distillation of grains or potato (or grapes, as with Ciroc); technically, vodka should be without flavor or aroma; completely neutral. This makes it the perfect base for adding flavoring agents such as fruit and spices.
Buddha's Hand Citron: a rather odd-looking citrus variety with an intense citrusy scent. Buddha's Hand citron does not contain any pulp or juice, just a rind.
Kaffir Lime Leaf: An Asian leaf that smells and tastes of lime.
Whiskey: (from the Irish words for Water of Life) a liquor distilled from a fermented mash of grains; here, barley. Single malt refers to the malt being produced by one single distillery, thereby placing their own signature styling and flavors into the whiskey.
Liqueur: in this case, beginning with the Eau de vie and adding sugar and more fruits; this makes a nice, sweet - almost syrupy - product.
Below are a few more pictures of the lovely still: