EATERS DIGEST: Sante Adairius takes over the iconic Oakland Trappist; the return of ‘Mezcalito Manny’
Good year! If you are reading this, we did it. Or, at least, there are only a few hours left. Until 2022, and I have a good feeling about this one. At least the year is ending with some great news, including an expansion of a local brewery in Oakland, a new cocktail list from one of my favorite local bartenders, and a delicious pop-up to check out.
If Covid has once again crushed your New Year’s plans, I’m here with you. I mean, I have a baby, so I probably wasn’t going to make it out anyway, but still. I will, however, have a fabulous New Years Eve, and I would like you to join me (virtually).
Capitola-based Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Brewery takes the reins of a beloved craft beer bar in Oakland. After opening in 2007, at the start of the craft beer boom, the Trappist has earned a reputation for serving some of the best beers in the world with meticulous care and attention. Over the years, it has become an institution and a mecca for beer lovers, who have traveled all over the world to visit their beautiful, intimate tasting room inside an 1870s Victorian in Old Oakland.
The Trappist regularly featured beers from Sante Adairius, which was ranked one of the ten best breweries in the world by enthusiasts in love with its Belgian beers, seasons, acids and IPA. An Instagram post from December 29 announced that the owners Adair paterno and Tim clifford were “humiliated” when the Trappist owners, who had become their good friends over the years, offered to pass the torch to them. “They leave us both a legacy and a space that we are honored to manage in his next life”, the post reads.
Paterno and Clifford officially take over in January, and Rustic Ales Oakland Arbor will open soon after. This is the third location for Sante Adairus, after their flagship Capitola brewery, which opened in 2012 and their Santa Cruz Portal in Midtown, which opened in 2017.
Emmanuel Hernandez, one of the most beloved bartenders, is back after a brief stint up the hill at Dry Creek Grill in Campbell. Hernandez has helped craft cocktail menus at some of the city’s best bars, including Front & Cooper, Barceloneta, and Soif. You can now find him at Avanti Restaurant in the Westside, where he creates a seasonal cocktail menu with rare spirits, syrups, and cordials that he creates in-house.
My first drink is a riff on a boulevardier, one of my favorite cocktails. In Hernandez’s version, along with Four Roses bourbon and traditional Campari, he replaces red vermouth with allspice liqueur for a bigger dose of hot spices and adds a homemade apple syrup. He pours the ruby cocktail onto a huge transparent ice cube and garnishes it with a translucent burst of orange candy balanced on the rim of the glass. I take a bite before dropping the candy into the drink and giving it a swirl. The cocktail is rich, sweet and spicy, starting off sweet and ending with a mouth-watering bitterness.
On a plate of sizzling Idiazabal cheese with grilled peppers ($ 13), which I stack on toasted slices of homemade sourdough, Mezcalito Manny (@mezcalito_manny) slips me a cocktail that bears his name. Hernandez has a personal connection with every ingredient in Mezcalito: bitters made from chocolate from Oaxaca, where his family comes from; smoked mexican mezcal; pineapple, which he loved to eat with his grandmother; and Amaro, the typical bartender’s drink after the shift, as anyone who has worked in the service industry can attest. The result is a delicious layered cocktail that I can’t help but sip on.
Hernandez plans to add an Old Fashioned Fireside to this list of winter cocktails, made with rye whiskey, toasted pecan syrup, and citrus bitter, both made in-house so he can control the flavor profile and sweetness. You can enjoy his new arrivals and other fan favorites, all for $ 13, on his menu at Avanti from Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. avantisantacruz.com.
Apéro Club, the ultra-trendy natural wine bar tucked behind Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing in Swift Street Courtyard in Westside, is fast becoming a destination for super cool pop-ups. A few weeks ago, I stopped in for a glass of wine and a few bites of La Afición, which I knew nothing about except the food looked delicious on Instagram.
Over a glass of fresh Loire Valley Gamay my friends and I tossed raw oysters in smoked olive oil and sherry vinegar in jelly, dragged bits of winter squash fried with crispy sage through browned butter aioli, and oo’d and ahh ‘d over a creamy persimmon pudding with custard.
Chef Lucas Morris-Lopez is originally from San Juan Bautista and lived and worked in Santa Cruz for nine years before moving to Mexico City three and a half years ago. He visits his family until mid-January and does a few pop-ups in some places while he’s here.
On Tuesday January 4, La Afición collaborates with Mestiza for a pop-up inspired by “Cali-Mexa” at La Posta. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made via OpenTable. La Afición is also organizing two pop-ups in San Juan Bautista on January 6 and 14, and at least one more pop-up at the Apéro Club on a date to be determined. After returning to Mexico City, Morris-Lopez hopes to open his pop-up as a restaurant early next year. For more information, follow him on Instagram at @laficioncdmx.
I know I’m not the only one staying for New Years Eve. There are tempting fixed price dinners available, including those at Home in Soquel and Vim in Santa Cruz. But Omicron’s rapid and ruthless spread has plenty of potential revelers who avoid crowded indoor environments. I will stay there too, but my reason is more banal: I have a 7 month old baby.
But after he goes to bed at 7pm, my husband and I have big plans. We’ll start the evening with a dozen fresh oysters, probably peeled and eaten directly over the kitchen sink.
Next, we’ll start cooking a grass-fed grain rib eye, our favorite cut from El Salchichero, and discuss when to flip it (part of the fun). I will open the nicest bottle of local wine we can responsibly afford and end our meal with take out chocolate chip cookies from Mutari.
If you also stay indoors, it’s the perfect night for a dinner party, even if the guests are just the beings you live with. Fry the chicken and wash it with lots of champagne! Fold your own dumplings! Eat blinis and caviar with a frozen martini! If you do, tag me on Instagram @lilywrenn, and we’ll ring the bell together in 2022.
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