Appetite: New bar manager, superb cocktails at Heaven’s Dog

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Elks Own at Heaven's Dog
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY VIRGINIA MILLER

Heaven’s Dog has been a haven for superb cocktails since it opened, with excellent bartenders like Erik Ellestad (Savoy Stomp) and pre-Prohibition era cocktails ($10 each) from Charles H. Baker’s The Gentleman’s Companion, aka "Jigger, Beaker, and Glass." The bar still serves Baker classics, and with new bar manager Trevor Easter on board, receives a fresh infusion while keeping to its roots. Easter came from some of our city's best bars (like 15 Romolo and Wilson & Wilson inside Bourbon & Branch), and used to trek up from San Diego where he lived prior to SF for cocktails at Heaven’s Dog by bar director Erik Adkins.

Technique is Easter’s drive, generally keeping to ingredients used 100 years ago. One housemade item that I’d recommend highly, though it is only occasionally on the menu (should be back by May), is Erik Adkins’ gin-based Pimm’s recipe. It makes a beautiful Pimm’s Cup, one of my favorites here, bright with cucumber and lemon. I was delighted with Easter’s off-menu twist on a low alcohol Americano, a Salted Americano with a couple drops of saline solution added to open it up and offer a brilliant layer of saltiness amidst sweet bitterness.

Oaxacan Firing Squad is based on the Mexican Firing Squad cocktail in Charles Baker’s book, using Del Maguey Mezcal Vida alongside tequila instead of merely tequila as the original does. Lime, Small Hands excellent grenadine, and Angostura bitters round out this refresher.

Elks Own is a classic from 1901, prepared beautifully here with a late bottled 2006 vintage Quinta De La Rosa Porta. Don’t let the soft pink color fool you. It’s robust with Rittenhouse Rye, bright with lemon, silky with sugar and egg whites. The tart, tannic berry of the port gives the cocktail a lush, sexy texture while remaining refreshing.

An off-menu twist on the Brooklyn cocktail, Wall Street (originally served at Rickhouse) is another luxuriant pleaser using Old Bardstown bourbon instead of rye whiskey, Punt e Mes vermouth, Luxardo maraschino, winter bitters (house made allspice and mole bitters) and Della Christina Nocino walnut liqueur instead of Amer Picon, adding a nutty layer.

There are a couple Easter creations on the menu (Chantilly Lace: Plymouth gin, lime, Small Hands Pineapple Gum, apricot brandy, bitters, mint; and Yankee Clipper: Beefeater gin, Carpano Antica, Luxardo Maraschino, Bitter Truth orange bitters, Duplais Absinthe Verte), but the menu sticks mostly to classics. The bartenders know their classics so feel comfortable opting for Freedom from Choice and let them create something for you.

For those who find the warm shumai dumplings and spicy wontons expensive compared to cheap Sunset or Richmond district dim sum, both are $6 during happy hour (Monday-Friday, 5-6:30pm).

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