Drinks

Wound Up

A new bitter has San Francisco in a cocktail tizzy

A bottle of brick-red liquid has San Francisco's best bartenders in a fevered state.

The perpetrator: Gran Classico Bitter, a Swiss aperitif made from an over-a-century-old recipe that finally hit domestic shores a little more than a week ago.

People like Scott Baird, Brian MacGregor, Erik Adkins and Brooke Arthur of Prospect, opening today, stocked their bars with it immediately. "For cocktail geeks, this is like having a copy of the first issue of the Superman comics," notes Baird.

The mania began nearly a year ago, when 15 Romolo's Baird brought a sample with him to New Orleans' famed drinkers' hoedown Tales of the Cocktail. The buzz spread like liquid wildfire.

Gran Classico Bitter, imported by Petaluma-based Tempus Fugit Spirits, has the requisite herbal and citrus notes of similar spirits like Campari and Aperol, but with a shocking roundness and purity of flavor.

MacGregor uses it in his Americano; Adkins wonders if the bitter will supplant Campari as the classic complement for soda water; and Baird created a new Negroni with North Shore aquavit, Carpano Antica and Gran Classico (click here to download the recipe).

"Gran Classico is fresh, lively and bitter as hell," says Baird.

Our sentiments exactly.

Available for $30 at K&L Wine Merchants (multiple Bay Area locations); klwines.com

K&L Wine Merchants 638 4th St. San Francisco CA 94107 800-437-7421 15 Romolo 15 Romolo San Francisco CA 94133 Jardinière 300 Grove St. San Francisco CA 94102 Prospect 300 Spear St. San Francisco CA 94105

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