First Look: El Techo de Lolinda, San Francisco
Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
The Margarita, Caipirinha, Cuba Libre: "These Latin drinks have a long history," says Chris Lane, bar manager of the Mission's Lolinda and its new rooftop bar and restaurant, El Techo de Lolinda. "People have strong opinions about what these drinks should taste like; they have pride in these drinks." El Techo's cocktails are meant for relaxed outdoor drinking: "They're drinks you don't need to have an internal monologue about," says Lane. But while the cocktails he's offering on the rooftop are, in Lane's words, "pretty true to tradition, refreshing and bright," you'll find a craft-cocktail touch here and there.
For the Peruvian pisco buck called the Chilcano, Lane skips ginger beer in favor of a syrup made from freshly-squeezed ginger juice. To cut the sweetness of a Cuba Libre, he uses lots of lime juice, and shakes the drink with a lime shell to extract a bit of the lime oil. Haitian rhum agricole, he says, has "a unique enough and vegetal enough character so you can taste it above the Coke." And you won't find Bacardi in El Techo's tall, frosty piña colada. Instead, it's made with a mixture of four rums, the winners in a search for "rums that can stand up to coconut cream and still have flavor."
"I've always been a huge rum guy," says Lane, but this project also encouraged him to explore the world of pisco and try out some single-estate tequilas and mezcals. His research also brought him to go back through some old cocktail books, like Charles H. Baker's Jigger, Beaker and Glass which yielded less familiar concoctions like the rum-based Hotel Nacional Special, which inspired a tart pisco and apricot brandy cocktail on the El Techo menu.