The story goes that this concoction was invented by Louis Eppinger at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan in the early 1900s. The Duende version uses Lustau Escuadrilla Amontillado sherry, Sutton Cellars brown label vermouth (made from Sonoma county fruit in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, flavored with botanicals like rosemary, bitter orange, and chamomile), along with a hefty dose of Angostura and orange bitters and a lemon twist. "This cocktail is an anchor on the list," notes Bayless. "It'll be on the menu for awhile. It's an old school representation of the cocktail's roots. It's dry, nutty, and aromatic—it's a great introduction to sherry. Sometimes people are more willing to try sherry when it's in a cocktail," he said.
Smoky and earthy Benesin Mezcal latches into the nuttiness of Lustau dry Oloroso sherry in this stirred cocktail. The essential touch: housemade pineapple gum syrup, made with whole pineapples roasted on the plancha to add a bit more smokiness along with the syrup's silky texture. "This drink takes a classic ingredient from each country; sherry from Spain and mezcal from Mexico...ingredients that have a prominent cultural identity, and are all integral to the Bay Area cocktail scene now." says Bayless. "On its own, mezcal can be a little rough" he notes, "but when you're mixing it, things blend and bloom together." As for the glassware, Bayless says, "We're trying to keep it simple, rustic—this place is pretty ornate already."
Normans Do It Better
Troy Bayless calls this drink "a nod to a pisco sour." He warns: "You could drink a lot of these...and then you'd be on your face." The calvados the drink is from Normandy—"It's a place I want to visit," says Bayless. He adds a dry and earthy Basque-style cider made in California with seven different varieties of apples, and shakes the mixture with egg white and a fresh sage syrup.
"You can't not have a whiskey cocktail on the menu," says Bayless as he mixes up the rye-based Finch. Wild Turkey Rye is mixed with Perucchi red vermouth, which Bayless calls "really aromatic and herbaceous," as well as Amaro Montenegro and orange bitters. The inspiration was an old Dubonnet cocktail made with whiskey and absinthe, "but this is a simplified version. The Perucchi," notes Bayless, "is more spicy and vibrant than Dubonnet."
"Winter is the season to drink bubbles," says Bayless, offering up this cava cocktail flavored with Sutton Cellars Vin de Noix. "The Vin de Noix is good stuff," says Bayless. "It's basically nocino: red wine flavored with green walnuts. It's sweet and spicy with a dry, tart finish."
Chef Paul Canales says that the food at Duende is not meant to be "Spanish museum food, a facsimile of something somebody had on a trip to Spain, regardless of seasonality or of where we are." Instead, he says Spain is a "point of departure" for the kitchen. "I want the food to feel present here—we have these beautiful leeks right now, it's green garlic season, so these are much lighter than a normal meatball, they're about 65% leek and green garlic, served in a broth with wild mushrooms."
Chef Paul Canales in the Kitchen
"I like to play the edge between rustic and refined," says Chef Canales. "I want to serve food that has people saying, 'damn, I'm coming back for that.'" Canales says Oakland's a great place to open a creative project: "There's no dogma here. You can do what you want. Oakland's always had that for me."
Wine Director Gerard Maristany in the Bodega
In the adjoining space, the Duende wine shop features the wines of Spain—arranged geographically in shelving shaped like a map of the country. "We want to be the reference in terms of sherry in the East Bay," says Maristany.