Saturday, December 29, 2007


I am a total girl when it comes to cocktails. The prettier and tastier, the better. Props to my friend Siddhi, who took me to this nice new joint in the Union Square area.

It's called Cantina and you should hit it up when you're next looking for a cool drinks place to impress your friends. Small and subtly located on Sutter near Mason, you can walk right by the pretty wood and wrought iron door if you don't know what you're looking for. You'll get credit for having 'local' knowledge and knowing that such a place exists.

Inside, Cantina is skinny and long, only has a few seats but is dimly lit with spicy decor - funky fabrics, interesting paintings (you might not ever hang them in your house, but at least they have a home here; but luckily its an art gallery so the pieces change), and a bar to make any Latin liquor connoisseur swoon. They've got more types of cachaca, pisco and tequila than I've seen outside of Brazil, Peru or Mexico! And did I forget to mention that lots of the pretty people hang here? Make sure to dress casual-Mission.

But I digress. This is a drinks joint, or a 'bebidas bistro' to borrow their own term, after all, and boy do they do those well. Duggan McDonnell, expert mixologist, has worked some might fine magic on this drinks list. And it, like the art, changes. The drinks are one of a kind, don't even dare trying to order your standard gin and tonic here. All seem to be served in a simple, tall high ball glass with a sliver of cucumber, ginger or pineapple. And it's all made fresh at the bar, none of this from-concentrate crap.

My personal favorite is one that I bummed from Siddhi, the Laughing Buddha - a scrumptious mix of ginger, ginger beer, serrano pepper (yeah that's right) and alcoholic goodness. It's not too sweet, a crime often committed by alco-pop makers. I ordered one of the daily specials, a pisco punch - after spending minutes agonizing whether to get that or a blackberry cabernet caiperinha. I made a good choice, my drink had some ginger, orange and pineapple juice to drown out pisco's often heavy, burning taste.

But I'm definitely trying the blackberry thing next time.

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