From carrot liqueur to the best in absinthe, a tour of the city's new tipples
Tempus Fugit's modus operandi is reinventing classic recipes and distilling them locally. Petaluma-produced Liqueur de Violettes is next up for the duo, a taste along the lines of Creme de Violette and other violet liqueurs yet somehow unlike any of them. Made with less sugar, the liqueur is a more appropriate cocktail ingredient — it's less cloying, more purely floral and light. Each time I sample it, its bouquet blossoms like a layered wine: a sophisticated, botanical aperitif.
Tempus Fugit future project (a two-man team, after all, only has four hands) is Crème de Cacao-Chouva, a chocolate liqueur that will change chocolate cocktails the way St. George's Firelit transformed coffee liqueur. It's dark, lightly sweet, lush and earthy. Tasting it, I envision a resurgence of my guilty pleasure cocktail, the Grasshopper, refined and grown up with Crème de Cacao-Chouva and creme de menthe. It came alive with soda water — an elevated egg cream soda materialized in my cocktail windshield.
Keep an eye on these guys. They have more spirits and bitters as exciting as the ones I've listed in the works. Their dizzying knowledge of the history and intricacies of forgotten or neglected spirits, along with refined taste, suggests revelatory possibilities for the future pours of Tempus Fugit.
(707) 789-9660, www.tempusfugitspirits.com
OLD WORLD SPIRITS
Just north of San Carlos in a nondescript smattering of office buildings, is Old World Spirits, which has been in production since 2009. Davorin Kuchan, its third-generation distiller from Croatia, says family plays an irreplaceable part in the operation, as is evident from the photos lining the walls of the distillery. The whole clan is involved — Kuchan's young daughter even drew the girl peeking out from foliage that graces Old World's playful absinthe label. The output of both Davorin and business partner Joseph Karakas is astounding for a two-person operation, with two absinthes, a gin, a black walnut liqueur, three eaux de vie/brandies, and more liquors slotted for future release.