Fresh off his excellent showing at ARTINI, Brent Davis invited me to sample a few of the new spring cocktails over at British gastropub AGAINN. As I sat sipping drinks observing the happy hour crew, Brent greeted regulars with a friendly wave and a jibe. It was obvious that they love him. Just after telling me a funny story about the gin and cucumber drink he created for a regular called The Modest Lobbyist, the young lady herself entered. It’s that kind of bar.
AGAINN’s beverage menu still has the signature cocktails created by the very talented Bon Vivants of San Francisco, such as the Lady Macbeth and the Bareknuckle Boxer. Brent has added a few of his own, and my favorite was his riff on the Hemingway Daiquiri, called RedRum (ok, the R’s are reversed, like in The Shining, but I am not technologically savvy, so just imagine that font looking far sexier!).
One of the chief joys of this drink is the color. It’s simply gorgeous as the maraschino liqueur mixes in to make the liquid a lovely light pink set off by the green of the lime garnish. For me, what makes a spring cocktail is how well its color evokes the first blush of the season, and this definitely succeeds. Ruby red grapefruit infused rum with maraschino liqueur, lime juice and Peychaud’s bitters all combine with delicacy, making you think of sitting out under in a breezy garden somewhere. Of course, you could go completely in the opposite visual direction and think of the red cherry being a blood splash, if spring puts you in that frame of mind!
In case you like your spring drinks topical, Brent also has a special Royal Wedding cocktail on hand with strawberry and prosecco, rimming the glass with a crown of strawberry slices. It’s good girly fun, and sometimes that’s just what you need with your scones and clotted cream. If you like tropical, Brent’s second behind the bar, Rich, is also hard at work experimenting with combinations like pineapple/sage and strawberry/basil. I tried two of these works-in-progress served with crushed ice that reminded me of sophisticated sno-cones.
These two behind the bar have an entertaining banter that creates a truly relaxed atmosphere as they play with drinks for your benefit. It’s a great antidote to a long work day downtown.