New cocktail and bite combinations to light up winter nights
HOG & ROCKS
With new chef Robin Song (formerly of Haven and Plum) on board, there are elevated touches to Hog & Rocks' ever-approachable food, like a special of perch crudo ($14), delicate with nasturtium, puffed rice, minced Manila clams, and blood orange. This suits bar manager Michael Lazar's robust yet refined cocktails just fine. Chef Song's amuse bouche of buckwheat gougeres topped with warm, salty lardo is divine with Lazar's Miller's Meyer ($11), a vivid winter cocktail of Martin Miller's Gin, Meyer lemon syrup, and herbaceous Elisir M.P. Roux liqueur lending whispers of anise, verbena, and lavender. My drink of choice is house Willett bourbon, a bracing 130 proof but cut with water. Rye spice and sweet corn notes meld perfectly in Lazar's Old Fashioned with orange and Angostura bitters.
A refreshing Cider Press Buck ($11) showcases one of the most edible garnishes around: a spiced Arkansas black apple (preserved via Cryovac). This delicious garnish evolves with the seasons, atop Old Fitzgerald bourbon, lime, ginger, and Wandering Aengus dry pear cider, confirming the current cider craze. The Buck pairs with H&R's always pleasurable ham platters ($16), now with Monte Nevado Jamon Serrano from Spain, Greci and Foizani Proscuitto from Italy, and a stunningly smoky ham exemplifying all I love best in Southern hams, Edwards Surryano from Virginia.
3431 19th St., SF. (415) 550-8627, www.hogandrocks.com
Subscribe to Virgina's twice-monthly newsletter The Perfect Spot, www.theperfectspotsf.com