San Francisco’s Craft Spirits Carnival

SF Spirits Fair Fort-MasonI am a picky drinker and a frugal spender. As such, I’m the perfect candidate for San Francisco’s Annual Craft Spirits Carnival. Here’s my reasoning: there’s no way to know exactly what I like if I can’t taste it and I’m not going to buy a lot of spirits just to sample. This event allows me the opportunity to sample away and purchase only my favorites. Which I happily did.

If you missed it this past weekend, I’ll fill you in on a few highlights. You see, the other really good reason to attend this fair is to discover what is new in the world of spirits. You’re not going to get this kind of information from the sample counter at Trader Joes. For example, the first table I approached offered me a small cup of Pür Spirits Blood Orange Liqueur with one exquisite “premium cocktail cranberry” floating in it. Upon tasting it, I had the grand reassurance that I was in the right place at the right time. Lounge Attire actually introduced the garnish a year or so ago, but considering that we’ve had the maraschino cherry and olive since the 1800s, the cranberry—or rather this particular late harvest (i.e. sweet) cranberry—is very exciting.

SF spirits fair-golden state ciderAnother happening fruit is the apple. At a popular table in the back of the hall was one of the good humored creators of “Golden State Cider,” and he was filling our sample glasses as fast as he could. This cider is seriously easy to drink. Soon it will be available in a can so watch out. I’m pretty happy about this product. Clicking through the website, I suppose I fit the target audience: an active, health-conscious Californian.

The second drink I tasted that is made exclusively with apples was Arkansas Black Straight Applejack, much more intense than the cider but still crisp in a way. The woman standing beside me said, “I didn’t know apples could taste this good.”

I’d like to briefly mention two other new products that absorbed my attention. The first is C & B’s Old Fashioned Quinine, which is an organic syrup to add to soda water for a fantastic drink. You can add alcohol if you want, but it’s complex enough without it. You can also sample it at Napa’s Oxbow Marketplace, but an 8 ounce bottle is affordable enough to just go for it and buy online.

SF-spirits-carnival-chocolateAnd finally, I’ve come to the chocolate. A mother/daughter team has done something brilliant together. They make “Wine & Cheese Pairing Chocolate” that is wrapped in colorful foil and packaged with pairing instructions. I sampled their Dark Chocolate Salted Pistachio with goat cheese. So delicious, even a tiny sample was thoroughly satisfying. Talking with the mom, I learned that they sold out the day before and worked into the wee hours of the morning to make their chocolate for Sunday. Checking back at the table an hour later, I saw that they had sold out again. Success, albeit with a little sleep deprivation.

Every exhibitor seemed to be enjoying success, although the event wasn’t uncomfortably crowded. But even it it was, you only had to step outside and gaze at the ocean of sailboats and seagulls with SF-spirits-fair-seagulAlcatraz in the distance. It’s about time I mention that the event is held at Fort Mason Center on the waterfront. Reason enough to be there!

The dates for 2015 Crafts Spirits Carnival? August 15-16. Check it out.