Here's what we're drinking, and you should too.

#Knob Creek

Tales from the Cask : Wilson and Wilson Private Detective Agency

Outside of a San Francisco Detective Agency

One of the bars in San Francisco that knows how to make a cocktail is Bourbon and Branch.  They invented the Laphroaig Project there, and the bar is actually housed in what used to be a speakeasy.  There’s a back “library” that houses a second bar that you need to enter through a fake bookcase.  You need to make a reservation and know a password to get in, the bartenders and staff are all dressed up old-fashioned like, and the quality of their drinks is only matched by the prices they charge.

Recently they expanded.  Next door houses “Wilson and Wilson Private Detective Agency”.  It’s a bar that is supposed to give you a higher level of service and ostensibly it does.  It’s another speakeasy type thing, and you can read a good review and the backstory here from The Tender.  I didn’t have an awesome time there (the seats are REALLY uncomfortable and our waitress was pretty awful), but the drinks were good.

The reason I write this post is that they have some extremely interesting whisk(e)y drinks.  The menu is arranged by apertifs, main courses, and digestifs (they have a prix fixe menu where you get three drinks for the price of two and a half, or really the price of a decent meal anywhere else).

The three drinks are:

The Phantom

Clove infused cognac, Glenrothes Alba Reserve, Cocchi Aperitivo, Lemon Juice, Cacao and Vanilla Syrup, Orange Bitters

Truth Serum

Highland Park 12, Amaro Nonino, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup, Sasparilla Aromatic Bitters, Licorice Root Tincture


Knob Creek Bourbon, Coffee Syrup, Cranberry Infused Angostura Orange Bitters, Tobacco Bourbon Tincture

I had the Truth Serum and really enjoyed it.  It wound up being way smokier than I expected from HP 12, and was really delicious.  The flavors were balanced and I even got some of the sarsparilla.  Not sure it was worth the cost, but definitely an experience.

For those who want to check out the full menus, they are here.  Here’s a pdf of the envelope the menu comes in and here are page 1 and page 2 of the menu.


The SWAG of WhiskyFest 2009

Back in October, I was fortunate enough to attend WhiskyFest 2009 in San Francisco.  I went for fun - and most of the notes I took from that night demonstrate the almost too much fun I had (I believe that writing “real good”, “really good" and "really quite good”, for some Highland Parks late in the night constitute the best tasting notes I have ever written).  There were some things I really enjoyed at WhiskyFest (obviously, whisky was one of them), and some I didn’t (the price and the lack of several “VIP whiskies" that had been advertised), but everyone has to love stuff we all get (S.W.A.G.).

After living with the swag of WhiskyFest 2009 for about 3 months, I have decided to post what I have for everyone to see (mind you - this is not a complete list), and dole out 3 awards.  The 2009 SF WhiskyFest Awards are -   1)The Most Creative Swag, 2)The Most Useful Swag and last but not least,  the highly sought after 3)The Best Swag of WhiskyFest 2009.  Now without further ado…

The Most Creative Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2009 Award Goes To…

Just a wee bit of water

Glenfiddich, for their branded eyedropper.

I was a little blown away when I received this eyedropper.  It’s a cool gift for someone who loves whisky and wants to regulate the ABV percentage  of their favorite scotch (perhaps with the help of ScotchHobbyist’s App).  It’s doubly cool because I don’t usually associate Glenfiddich with whiskies that might be really hot (i.e., I usually think of them as non-cask strength).

The representatives from the Valley of the Deer knew their game about whisky, and poured some very nice drams for yours truly.  I congratulate you on your  award for The Most Creative Swag of 2009 SF Whiskyfest.  Other items pictured here are the tote bag from Malt Advocate magazine and my ticket.

The Most Useful Swag of SF WhiskyFest 2009 Goes To…

Small Batch Bourbon Keeps me Warm

Knob Creek, for their fleece hat, ridiculously soft long-sleeved shirt, and flask (pictured below).

I know.  Knob Creek is bourbon.  It’s not ‘“whisky” but rather “whiskey”.  Deal with it.  They were there.  They brought their A-game.  And it is a useful A-game!

David Mays, Knob Creek’s whiskey professor, pulled these two little doozies out of his roller suitcase at the end of WhiskyFest, realizing that for some reason they weren’t given out during the festivities.  The shirt, an anvil brand, rivals American Apparel and Alternative Apparel in softness (and looks pretty darn cool with the embroidered design).  I wear it.  Often.  It keeps me warm.  The fleece hat is now my running hat, and serves its purpose well.  It keeps my head warm.  The knob creek flask?  Well, it holds whisky quite well and that does a darn good job of keeping me warm, too.  Long-sleeve shirt, fleece hat, flask - what else does a San Francisco native need?  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, fake Mark Twain (ed note.  Mark Twain is often incorrectly thought of as the witty individual who said that “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco”.  Unfortunately, whomever did say it, the bastard was right.)

The Runner-Up for The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2009 Goes To…

Glassware everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Malt Advocate for giving every registered user a Glencairn glass from which to drink.

This was a great thing to have as we tasted whiskies during the festival.  This branded “San Francisco WhiskyFest 2009” glass is a really useful, valuable, and special keepsake.  It was also a great way to help people at the festival learn about nosing whisky and the different experiences you can get from a single dram.  Interestingly, neither Malt Advocate or any of the sponsors are also engraved on the glass.

Also pictured here - distillery brochures, Bulleit Bourbon glass (which served drinks from Bourbon and Branch), Makers Mark shotglassCrown Royal glass and a Knob Creek flask.

And The Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2009 Goes To…

I drink scotch. I expect quality.

The Glenrothes, for their wooden, laser engraved pen and V.I.P. hour only extremely heavy mini-The Glenrothes bottle keychain.

Yeah.  I used to collect keychains as a kid.  I got over it because I realized that collecting keychains serves no purpose.  Then I got older and got keys.  Ah, there’s the purpose.  The Glenrothes laser engraved mini-bottle keychain is really heavy, really nice and in my expert, used-to-be-a-collector opinion, seems to be very high quality.  It even came in that nice suede-like pouch pictured there.  What’s even cooler, is that it was V.I.P. only, making you feel a bit better for spending so much extra moolah on the ticket.  It’s also my everyday keychain, so The Glenrothes almost took down Most Useful Swag.  The pencil is also really nice and combined with the generous both in size and variety of drams poured by The Glenrothes representatives, helped them win the Best Swag of SF Whiskyfest 2009.

Wow.  That was exciting.  Other swag present at the event which is nice to have were hats from Laphroaig and Ardmore (which, though the swag itself isn’t totally memorable, the experience that their representatives provided was and a whole lot more).

Thanks to all the whisky-related companies for providing such a fun environment.  And thanks for Malt Advocate for making it happen.  If you see someone running in San Francisco with a Knob Creek hat on, give a shout.

- StrongLikeCask