AP Photo/Eric RisbergLocal bartenders are taking advantage of fresh ingredients at San Francisco farmers markets to create innovative cocktails.

AP Photo/Eric RisbergLocal bartenders are taking advantage of fresh ingredients at San Francisco farmers markets to create innovative cocktails.

SF mixologists sourcing fruits and veggies locally

We all have a few memories of family dinners spent pushing mushy peas around the plate, right? And will we ever recover from the horror we felt at school when we pulled a soggy banana from our brown lunch bag while every other kid, it seemed, had cookies?

Thankfully we’ve matured. We’re grown-ups now and we can have our fruits and vegetables when and how we want them — like in our cocktails — especially in San Francisco where fresh ingredients are ripe for the picking.

“We are blessed in Northern California to have so much available to us year round,” said Jeff Burkhart, a bartender, cocktail historian and author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars.” “We have farmers markets, Asian markets, Indian markets… the list goes on and on, which means so do our choices for ingredients.”

Bay Area mixers and shakers have gone beyond the standard stalk of celery in the Bloody Mary or fresh-squeezed orange juice in the mimosa, some preferring to defy the humdrum by concocting elixirs of their own sourcing from California’s orchards and gardens to create eclectic menus that toast to the Golden State’s cornucopia.

Over at Alembic (http://alembicbar.com) in the Haight, Larry Piaskowy serves up Southern Exposure ($11), a cocktail plucked straight from the garden using gin, fresh mint, lime juice, a touch of sugar and a shot of fresh celery juice that’s “loaded with antioxidants to help deal with the Haight’s population of free ‘radicals,’” says its menu.

Maven’s (www.maven-sf.com) mixologists Ryan Linden and Kate Bolton have curated a cocktail menu inspiring why-didn’t-I-think-of-that sips that keep you coming back for drinks like the 5 Spot ($11), which deliciously blends aged rum, with ginger, lime, maple, Thai basil and five spices for a nice little end-of–the-night kicker.

Christopher Robin (remember him from those Winnie the Pooh days?) ($12) is all grown up at Novela (http://novelasf.com), where cocktails are characters in your evening’s story. This one combines carrot juice with lemon, bitter lemon soda, gin, and ginger for a refreshing and surprising literary libation.

A Chemistry of the Cocktail event, sponsored by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture at the Ferry Plaza, showcased the mad-scientist skills of 13 of San Francisco’s finest bartenders who created cocktails using ingredients sourced from farmers markets.

If you’d like to try making cocktails at home using ingredients from your local farmers market or treasures from your own backyard, Burkhart advises to start thinking of combinations that work well with cooking and applying them to cocktail making.

“Almost all cocktails are a blend of sweet and sour, and vegetables typically don’t have the sour. Remember, even the classic Bloody Mary has lime or lemon juice in it, (although technically the tomato is a fruit),” he said. “And adding cucumber to a gimlet gives it an interesting take, like adding jalapeno to a margarita.”

These aren’t new ideas, he said, but add some creativity to the plentiful ingredients found in Northern California and are enough to keep our fruits and vegetables, as well as our cocktails, interesting for many happy hours to come.

Kimberley Lovato has been writing about travel, food and drink for the last 20 years and, from Alabama to Tanzania, has never met a happy hour she didn’t like; www.kimberleylovato.com

Farmer markets in S.F.

Here are some favorites among dozens of farmers markets in The City.

Civic Center<

7 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays; 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays, year-round

United Nations Plaza, Market and Seventh streets, Civic Center

Noe Valley<

8 a.m -1 p.m. Saturdays, year-round

3861 24th St.

Inner Richmond

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays, year-round

Clement Street between Second and Fourh avenues

Inner Sunset

9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays, year-round

Eight Avenue, between Judah and Irving streets

AlembicFarmers marketsFeaturesFood & DrinkFood and WineMaven

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A San Francisco Unified School District program that gave would-be teachers extra training in the classroom has lost a key partner. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/2019 S.F. Examiner)</ins>
USF ends partnership with SFUSD in teacher residency program

District launched training effort to improve low retention rates for new hires

The Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center joined San Francisco city leaders and community partners in a “Campaign for Solidarity” at Civic Center Plaza on Saturday, Apr 17, 2021. (CraigLee/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
City launches ‘Campaign for Solidarity’ to combat racial violence

Mayor London Breed, the city’s Human Rights Commission and community leaders launched… Continue reading

It’s time to break the code of silence and end the stigmatism against infertility, which is fairly common. <ins>(Shuttterstock)</ins>
Struggles with infertility are common

We all can support friends, ask legislators to mandate sppropriate insurance

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16. (Courtesy SFGOV)
City launches task force to explore Universal Basic Income programs

San Francisco on Friday launched a guaranteed income task force that could… Continue reading

Muni’s K-Ingleside line will return six months earlier than previously announced. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
K-Ingleside train to return on May 15

Announcement comes on the heels of pressure from Supervisor Myrna Melgar

Most Read