Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Jersey Craft Distilling

A bill wending its way through the New Jersey state assembly would create a special license for craft distilleries. As you can imagine, I am all for this.

A3798, introduced earlier this year and sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, would allow smaller distilleries to operate in the Garden State. It includes restrictions, such as a ceiling of 20,000 gallons of distilled alcoholic beverages per year and a requirement that at least 51% of the raw materials used to make such spirits are grown in the state.  On-site sampling is expressly permitted. The pertinent section of the proposed amendment reads:
Craft Distillery License. 3d. The holder of this license shall be entitled, subject to rules and regulations, to manufacture not more 20,000 gallons of distilled alcoholic beverages, provided that not less than 51 % of the raw materials used in the production shall be grown in this State, and to rectify, blend, treat and mix distilled alcoholic beverages, and to sell and distribute without this State to any persons pursuant to the laws of the places of such sale and distribution, and to maintain a warehouse. The holder of this license may offer any person not more than three samples per calendar day for sampling purposes only on the distillery premises. For the purposes of this subsection, “sampling” means the gratuitous offering of an open container not exceeding one-half ounce serving of distilled alcoholic beverage produced on the distillery premises. The fee for this license shall be $938.
$938. Almost 40 years ago, I visited my first still site in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. I'm certain that the moonshiners running that still paid nothing to the state for the privilege. This, though? This would be almost as cheap — and entirely legal.

For the rest of the bill, see here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Plugged For Your Pleasure: The Melon-Aged Cocktail

Barrel-aged cocktails are all the rage these days in certain circles and I can attest that some of them are hands-down delicious. But consider for a moment the melon-aged cocktail. Or is it the cocktail-aged melon? Either way, it's a winner.

From the highbrow (Charentais melons splashed with port wine) to the low (tailgate watermelons spiked with whatever liquor is handy), alcohol and melons have long enjoyed cozy relations. Since by trade and inclination, I travel in both rarefied and more earthy circles, I combined them recently in the form of a simple backyard watermelon infused with fancy punch. Admittedly, the aging in this case is simply overnight, but it's enough to give the alcohol a smoother, vaguely sweeter, edge.

And not just any punch: arrack punch, a funky, rum-heavy concoction once common in the flowing bowls of previous centuries, but little seen in the last 80 years. There's no reason, however, that you couldn't spike a watermelon with a pre-made cocktail: say, 8-12 ounces for a 10-pound melon. An enormous margarita, perhaps, or if you favor tarter tastes, a massive Negroni.

Until recently, the primary ingredient for the punch I chose — Batavia arrack — was no longer available in the United States. However, thanks to importer Eric Seed at Haus Alpenz, the 100 proof Indonesian spirit made of fermented rice and molasses is once more available. Combined with Jamaican rum, lime, sugar, and tea, it's just the thing to add a lightly boozy and slightly Baroque touch to Independence Day cookouts.

Arrack Punched Watermelon
One 10-11lb watermelon
6-10 oz of arrack punch

For this preparation, cut a round hole in the top of a chilled watermelon. Why round? Because a square hole may sometimes lead to cracks spreading out from its corners. Gently remove the plug and trim away most of the red flesh from its interior. Next, remove a small amount of flesh from the melon itself: just a small amount, enough to make a small cavity to hold liquor as it seeps into the flesh.

Then slowly pour liquor into the hole. My 11-lb melon easily absorbed one cup (250ml) of punch. It may help to pour in 2 ounces at a time, wait until that is absorbed, then add more until the melon just can't take any more. You may also speed the process by gently inserting a bamboo skewer at various angles into the flash — though be careful not to puncture the rind at any point. It seems obvious, but: leaks. Replace the round plug and keep in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
Note that the purpose of this particular melon is not to get you staggeringly drunk, but rather to showcase complementary tastes. After all, it's less than an ounce of punch for each pound of melon. If the staggers is what you after, consider straight rum, vodka, tequila, or Confederate chloroform. Any way you slice it, you're on your own.

Confederate chloroform? Why, it's just moonshine. We get that around here, too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bookshelf: Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook

Ever since Japan’s triple disasters earlier this year, I’ve been getting in as much as I can about Japanese cuisine; this new direction is reflected, predictably, in a growing accretion of books and bottles.

To my pile of books, I recently added Mark Robinson’s Izakaya. It’s a few years old now, but the book is so engrossing that I read it cover-to-cover on a flight to Salt Lake City. The future of Japanese whisky in the wake of this year’s tsunami originally sparked my interest in that country’s distilleries. That initial concern has grown into a broader interest in Japanese eating and drinking habits — in which I am far from expert.

It’s not that I am wholly unfamiliar with Japanese food. After all, friends live in Japan and we have a handful of Japanese markets nearby. But I lean to big, bold flavors and would rather eat any number of Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, or regional Chinese dishes than yet another Southern California sushi roll. Of course, Japanese cuisine is more than sushi, sake, and Sapporo — but it’s a pity we don’t have more authentic izakaya to help us understand the bigger picture.

Robinson is an Australian journalist based in Tokyo. He clearly has spent considerable time in izakaya (pronounced roughly ee-ZAH-ka-ya), small Japanese pubs that are as much about food as they are drink. In fact, he offers “pub” only hesitantly as a translation. Here he sets the scene for one of his favorites and the first of eight profiled in the book:
Every neighborhood deserves a Horoyoi.

Amid the babble of nighttime Ebisu, in southwestern Tokyo, among the mind-numbing array of flashy restaurants dueling for customers, their touts playing the streets, this diminutive semi-basement izakaya has been a fixture in my life since the early 1990s.

I never consciously made it so. Indeed, it was years before I realized that Horoyoi had grown on me — or I had grown into it — to the extent that I relied on it as much as the average Japanese might his or her own “local”: as a modest, welcoming place that came instantly to mind whenever I was arranging to eat and drink with friends and colleagues; to casually celebrate birthdays and New Year’s; to entertain relatives; or to introduce newcomers to izakaya. Over time, I found that it had transcended its status as an occasional destination to become a regular venue for marking some of my life’s milestones: a personal repository of good memories. With minimal décor, reliable, simply seasoned food and cool-headed service, it was a place where I felt at the same time comfortably well known and sufficiently anonymous to be completely myself. I could bring whomever I please, stay as long or short as I wanted, ask questions about the menu, be gregarious, or simply sit and observe. And that’s what the best neighborhood izakaya should be.
He goes on to give about a dozen recipes from Horoyoi and about as many again from each of seven other spots. The recipes range from almost down-home comfort food to a handful of more complex dishes. It would be a mistake, however, to describe any of the recipes as particularly complicated. Pork, noodles, clams, tofu, and potato salad (yes, potato salad) are almost old hat to Western eaters. For ingredients that may not be so familiar, Robinson includes photos and descriptions — wood ear mushrooms, gardenia fruit, yuzu, daikon radish sprouts, wagarashi (Japanese hot mustard), shichimi spice powder, lotus root, and more.

Some of the highlights include asparagus and pork tempura rolls, soy-flavored spareribs, chicken gizzards, cucumber pickles, duck breast with ponzu sauce, miso-cured tofu, steamed and grilled pork with salt, deep-fried tilefish, and the bizarre —but no less intriguing — Raclette-stuffed deep-fried tofu. There’s not one single thing in this book I wouldn’t eat.

This year’s tight travel budget means I have no immediate plans to visit Japan, but I am laying plans to come drinking and learning what to eat with those cocktails I’ve been hearing so much about the past few years.

From the Tokyo izakaya Buchi, sweetened glazed walnuts take on the fermented tenor of the esteemed aged Chinese tea, pu-erh. No pu-erh? Robinson suggests substituting Earl Grey.
Pu-erh-Glazed Walnuts

8 oz. (230g) walnut halves
5½ oz. (155g) granulated sugar
⅓ oz. (8g) pu-erh tea
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

In a sauté pan, lightly toast the tea over low heat until fragrant. Pulse to a powder in a food processor. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Blanch the walnuts for one minute and strain. Toss with sugar while hot.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil to 430ºF. Have ready a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Deep fry the walnuts until the sugar caramelizes, about 4-5 minutes, then transfer to the baking sheet. While hot, sprinkle with the tea powder and toss well. Separate the walnuts and let them cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Mark Robinson (2008)
Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook
160 pages (paperback)
Kodansha USA
ISBN: 4770030657

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bookshelf: The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

I am not a traditionalist 
when it comes to preserving, 
but I am a stickler for texture, balance, and appearance. 
The essential question is, 
does a preserve taste and look great? 
The answer to this question 
should always be yes.

~ Rachel Saunders

Ping. Ping. Pop. Ping.

Nature may abhor a vacuum, but that’s exactly what I’m after. I’m sitting at the kitchen table listening to jars of marmalade cool. Over on the butcher’s block, as each hot jar’s temperature drops, the air inside contracts and a little vacuum is born, drawing in — ping — the raised center of its lid. A seal is made. Across the room, the oven, its duty now done, adds is own deeper pops and dings as it heaves itself toward room temperature.

I’ve been making booze longer than I've been making preserves, but I've been doing both for more than two decades. In fact, just about any fruit or vegetable that crosses our threshold may well end up in jars with sugar, vinegar, or salt. In the kitchen, there’re preserves pans, cases of jars, strainers, jar tongs, and a battery of spices and herbs. Liquor, too — well, that’s a given. The preserves section of my library is bulging with cookbooks, textbooks, and agriculture bulletins spanning three centuries.

My latest find is Rachel Saunders’ The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. That Saunders draws inspiration from California produce is unmistakable. The white guava-Meyer lemon marmalade, for instance, does not hail from Helsinki. Her aprium jam with green almonds calls for ingredients one rarely sees in Kansas and, while such trees can be found here in San Diego, Sorrento lemons bursting with oil are far from common. Think of these ingredients as the exotica of the book, inspiration for when you get your hands on something more than apples, figs, or oranges.

Saunders formed her jam company, Blue Chair Fruit, after of what sounds like an obsessive ten years learning the ins and outs jam-making working with the stellar produce available to Bay Area cooks. Clearly, she’s done a lot of thinking about the stuff and the book reflects that.

Divided into three broad sections, it covers techniques and gear; jams and jellies by season; and fruit-specific recipes. You won't find pickles, chutneys, compotes, or any of the other usual recipes one finds in other preserves books; just fruit-laden jams, clear jellies, and peel-flecked marmalades (and one candied orange peel recipe; it's a good fit). Ingredients range from commonplace fruits such as cherries, apples, rhubarb, and apricots to a few items that may take some tracking down: orange flowers, rosewater, and liqueurs of elderflower and ginger.

The thing about cookbooks — and this holds true especially for books discussing something as temperamental as preserves — is that recipes don’t always pan out. It’s no fault of the home cook; some recipes simply aren’t tested, are scaled down improperly from large-batch resstaurant recipes, or are written badly. A few weeks ago, I set out to make hot pepper jelly. For quick-cooked jelly like that, I normally research several recipes to get at the heart of proportions and compare techniques. Just reading the first recipe I pulled off the shelf, I realized its volumes and weights were off. Without even trying it, I knew that recipe would not work.

Not so with Saunders’ book. Every recipe I’ve tried works. The ping-ping marmalade on the butcher’s block? Saunders’ recipe. She calls for white grapefruit, so I raided a stash of them that our neighbor Carlo picked from his backyard. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s getting marmalade soon. But it’s not just that one recipe: every single recipe I’ve tried from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook sets. Though yields are sometimes a bit off, I’m less concerned about that than I am of something tasting and looking great. Her stuff does.

If Saunders’ recipes sometimes seem long — well, they are. But they are not confusing. They are long because they go into precise detail while still leaving room for adjustments of ingredients, flavorings, or gear. Know who else had long recipes? Julia Child. Hers worked, too.

Next up? Peach jam. Perhaps with 100-proof Kentucky flavors. As usual, I’ll pull several recipes to cobble together my own, but the first place I’m headed is The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.

Rachel Saunders (2010)
The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook
384 pages (hardback)
Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN: 9780740791437

Goes well with:
  • Lucy Norris’ book Pickled — on an array of pickle recipes collected in New York from dills to ducks tongues. 
  • The River Cottage Preserves Book — a pocket-sized book on preserves more broadly. Originally published in the UK, but available in an American edition.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bookshelf: Tap that CLASS

No other magazine presents such a broad and deep understanding of who and what shapes modern tastes in spirits than CLASS Magazine. Malt Advocate focuses on whiskey (an admirable concentration). Wine & Spirits covers, well, at least one subject other than spirits. Imbibe addresses drinks more broadly and so includes tea, coffee, soda, water, and others. I like them all. But CLASS is spirits all the way. Oh, and the occasional beer, aperitif, and dash of bitters. Geared toward professional and avocational liquor enthusiasts, it includes product reviews, bar and bartender profiles, in-depth historical research, distillery and distiller profiles — and lush, gorgeous photography.

CLASS (yes, it is an acronym capitalized like that, leading some wags to dub it CRASS) is the brainchild of Simon Difford. Founded in 1997, Difford’s magazine quickly became an authoritative voice on the London bar scene, but its audience since has grown beyond the boundaries of the City. The lean is slightly European and heavily "cocktailian." Having once sold the rights to the magazine, Mr. Difford reacquired them in 2009 and has been publishing it since then.

I’ve a stack of these things at home. Heavy, thick, black tomes that dominate the shelf. Articles of the past few years have explored online merchant The Whiskey Exchange, Galliano cocktails, Scottish and Caribbean distilleries, the origins of the old fashioned cocktail, bartender kits, drinking guides to cities around the world, and hundreds of recipes. Particularly bad products get pilloried on a page of their own.

Generally, I'll tear out relevant articles from journals or magazines rather than keep the whole thing, then file them away in appropriate cabinets and folders in my research library — foie gras harvesting in here, citrus genetics over there, corn whiskey and reprints on pepperpot in another area entirely. I've never cut apart an issue of CLASS; each has been so engaging that I've kept it in its entirety.

I offer only one minor caveat; the copy is prone to typos. It's an annoyance to read an engaging, well-researched, beautifully photographed piece and smack into yet another cognitive pothole of the wrong word (guilt, for instance, rather than gilt). But, then, if I had a dollar for every typo I've ever published here, I could easily buy that Munktiki mug I've had my eye on. A two-year subscription to CLASS  runs £70 runs £70. £45 gets you one year. If neither of those options suits you, an online version recently launched here.

Mr. Difford will sit on a panel next month at Tales of the Cocktail. Joined by globetrotting bartender Nicolas de Soto and cocktail guru Jonathan Pogash, the three will present The European Bartending Perspective. Details here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chris Hannah’s Mardi Gras Punches

For the last few years, New Orleans bartender Chris Hannah has pushed a grocery cart around the French Quarter. Has he lost his home? His faculties? Not at all. He doesn't push it year-round, but during Carnival, when such sights are commonplace. Like so many others in Quarter and along St. Charles Avenue, Hannah uses the cart to haul around a cooler sloshing with beverages on Mardi Gras day. Each year the contents change, but the last three times he’s made what’s growing into an institution, his bright orange cooler held tiki punches made with rum.

There’s been the Nui Nui, an orange and lime concoction with allspice, cinnamon, and vanilla — and rum. In 2010, Hannah made gallons of Chief Lapu Lapu, a sweet/tart punch made with passionfruit, orange, lemon, simple syrup — and rum. This past year, he handed out cups of good cheer in the form of Pago Pago punch with orange, lime, grapefruit, honey — and rum.

Can we get this guy a sponsor? Zaya, you rock out in a Nui Nui. Appleton Estate, why not contribute some bottles and throw a little cash his way to gussy up the cart? Next year, I want to see a grocery cart-sized float and the Chris Hannah Mahalo Gold Dancers.

From Jeff Berry’s Tiki+ app, here’s a more modest-sized version of the1960's era punch from Tucson's Pago Pago restaurant. Scale up if you require more.
Pago Pago Punch

1 oz orange juice
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz grapefruit juice
¾ oz honey mix*
1 oz dark Jamaican rum
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake well with plenty of crushed ice. Pour unstrained into a pilsner glass.
*Honey mix is a 1:1 mix of honey and water, more readily mixable than straight honey.

Goes well with:
  • Taking a Tiki Shortcut with Simbre Sauce, our own take on the Nui Nui which we have been known to drink in such quantities that we require a pre-batched spiced syrup dubbed (around here anyway) Simbre Sauce.
  • Mardi Gras with Rowley, Wayne, and Chris, a short post on bumping into Hannah and writer Wayne Curtis on Mardi Gras last year. The photo above is from that day (with Curtis in the exterminator getup).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Remember the Maine? Hell, I Barely Remember the Walk Home.

Treat this one with the respect it deserves, gentlemen.
~ Charles H. Baker, Jr.

Charles H. Baker, Jr. — bear with me, drinks people; I know you know this, but others may not — is a towering figure in cocktail literature. His 1946 two-volume The Gentleman’s Companion was one of the first serious cocktail books I bought almost twenty years ago. Because bars sometimes base cocktail programs on his recipes more than half a century after publication, a passing familiarity with them helps tipplers navigate options at bars that trade in old-school drinks.

This weekend in Portland, I was pleased to recognize Remember the Maine, one of his classics, featured at Teardrop Lounge. It's not unlike a Manhattan, but with an absinthe kick, you wouldn't mistake one for the other. The drink's name refers a popular slogan that decried the sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana's harbor, thus sparking the 1898 Spanish-American War. Baker invokes the slogan in his typically florid and heavily-capitalized prose: 


His original recipes reads: Take a tall bar glass and toss in three lumps of ice. Onto this foundation donate the following in order given: one jigger good rye whiskey, ½ jigger Italian vermouth, one to 2 teaspoons of cherry brandy, ½ tsp absinthe or Pernod Veritas. Stir briskly in clock-wise fashion -- this makes it sea-going, presumably! —turn into a big chilled saucer champagne glass, twisting a curl of green lime or lemon peel over the top.

That "cherry brandy" has caused some confusion — or at least room for interpretation — among bartenders since both Cherry Heering (a dark, sweet, cherry-infused brandy) and Kirsch or Kirschwasser (a clear distillate of cherries, nearly double the proof of Heering) may be used. I find the lower-proof Heering rounds out the drink nicely, but feel free to experiment. The drink doesn't call for much absinthe, but tread lightly if you're unsure whether you enjoy the taste; its presence is not a subtle one.
Remember the Maine (modern adaptation)

2 oz rye
.75 oz sweet vermouth
2 bar-spoons Cherry Heering
½ bar-spoon absinthe

Stir briskly with a bar spoon in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into another glass and serve up.

Goes well with: A stop at Teardrop if you're in Portland. In fact, it's one of the reasons to visit.

Teardrop Lounge
1015 Northwest Everett Street
Portland, OR 97209-3117
(503) 445-8109

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alcohol was a Factor

 An older story from Alaska just caught my attention.

Seems that young moonshiner Frank Cleveland lost his goddamned mind, took a chainsaw to family door, got arrested, broke the jail cell light, lit a blanket on fire, urinated on the cell wall, and punched a state trooper. "Alcohol" the report notes, "was a factor."

Yeah. I figured.

More details from The Arctic Sounder here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When a Man Named Tiny Fries You Pork, You Eat It

Parsing the distinctions between grieben, chicharron, lardons, scratchings, grattons, and cracklins — not to mention which are for snacking and which are for seasoning other foods — can sometimes result in raised voices. Commonly made of pork, duck, chicken, or goose, these little fried pieces of fatty animal bits can be an unavoidable consequence of lard rendering…or the entire point of the firing up the pan in the first place.

One of the reasons I like driving around South Louisiana is the local food, especially the charcuterie. In fact, if you happen to be in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail next month, book a few extra days and head west into Cajun country. Whether it’s a family-run watermelon stand, fresh shrimp, or just one guy selling Creole tomatoes out of his truck, be prepared to stop wherever the offerings look good. Bring a cooler.

In Broussard (between Lafayette and New Iberia), Tiny Prudhomme offers a range of prepared flesh at his aptly named House of Meat. Ribeye sausage, boneless chicken with rice stuffing, duck tasso, quail, marinated rabbit, jerky, boudin, T-bones, rolled roasts, and the like.

But the look and smell of his cracklins pulled me over as soon as I walked in the door. Crisp chunks of pork — a bit of skin, fat, and meat in every piece — were seasoned with hot pepper, salt, and pepper. They were fantastic.

Oh, and there’s a drive-thru. Unless you know for sure what you want, though, park it and go in. Tiny’s no dummy: he sells Styrofoam coolers, too.

Tiny Prudhomme’s House of Meat
416 North Morgan Avenue
Broussard, LA 70518

Goes well with:
  • Rowley Down with Swine, Lard, a piece I wrote in response to a San Francisco Chronicle article suggesting that one should discard the solids when rendering one's own lard. Rendering lard is easy, but discarding the solids? A shameful waste of good cracklins (though a different style from Prudhomme's). Cracklin cornbread recipe included.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rumaki and Rum

Sometime around the middle of the 1920's 
I seem to remember my first 
bacon-wrapped snack, 
served to accompany bathtub gin martinis. 
Good bathtub gin was not without its merits,
but it needed food to keep one in shape 
for the second or third drink, 
so snacks became more hearty. 

James Beard
James Beard's American Cookery (1972)

There's a story my mother tells. It was the mid-'60's. The setting was a swank cocktail party with hip hors d'oeuvres. My father was destroying round after round of a particular tasty bacon-wrapped specimen. At one point, another round came by. The host asked "Would you like another chicken liver, Joe?" Well, that was the end of that. My father was not to be tempted by liver.

Click to embiggen
My father had been eating rumaki, a snack popularized by "Trader" Vic Bergeron and others who opened tiki bars across the country in the middle of the last century.  Several versions of the snack exist, but each is essentially a short piece of bacon wrapped around a bite-sized filling, then the whole thing broiled. Whole water chestnuts are the most common filling, but one also finds the aforementioned chicken livers or chunks of pineapple. I make them with water chestnuts because I enjoy the contrast of their crispness and hot smoky bacon. But on occasion I've been known to cut livers into small pieces and tuck a piece in with the water chestnuts.

It's also made from things I tend to have around the house, so it can be put together in pretty short order, especially if someone else breaks out the rum and tackles the tiki drink making. Adapted from James Beard's James Beard's American Cookery, here's my take on


One 20 oz can of water chestnuts
1 lb/500g thick-cut bacon, sliced in thirds
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbl brown sugar
1 tsp Aleppo pepper

Drain the water chestnuts, rinse, drain, and pat dry. Wrap each in a short bacon slice. Secure with a toothpick. Set in a large shallow dish and repeat until either all the water chestnuts or all the bacon is gone (but it should even out).

Position an oven rack under the broiler and preheat the oven o 350°F/180°C. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a bowl, pour it over the pork bundles, and let marinate while the oven warms. Remove the rumaki to a broiler pan with a drain pan (or some other shallow pan to catch drippings) and cook until the bacon is crisped at the edges and well-browned. The final cooking time depends on the thickness of the bacon's cut, but start checking around 10 minutes.

Discard the marinade. Serve the rumaki while it's still barely sizzling.
If you were doing a chicken liver version (closer to Beard's original), just trim and cut into halves about a pound of livers and marinate them in the above mix about half an hour (they get overly salty if left in too long), then slice a half dozen whole water chestnuts into small coin shapes. Tuck a slice onto each liver, wrap in bacon, and proceed as above.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Want to Start a Brewery in San Diego?

San Diegans are fortunate that so many good breweries call this place home. We have Stone Brewing, Lost Abbey, AleSmith, Ballast Point, and more. Jay Porter, the godfather of 30th Street, wants to add one more.

30th Street is a stretch of road in North Park, a neighborhood that borders Balboa Park and is home to many Craftsman homes from the 1920's and 30's — it is, incidentally, my neighborhood. In the five years I've lived in San Diego, the street has gone through a renaissance that's seen coffee shops, restaurants, and pubs open. The place has become a real draw and Jay Porter is part of the reason.

Porter is the moving force behind the San Diego restaurant the Linkery which he founded in 2005 as well as the year-old El Take It Easy. As local beer aficionados know, the Linkery has been serving great beers almost from the get-go as well as special beer dinners with West Coast brewers.

As our changing economy makes so many of us rethink business models, Porter writes that he's mulling over the idea of turning over the Linkery's space to a brewery:

The passion that brought me into the business in the first place was urban development — I wanted to help transform our old streetcar neighborhoods along 30th Street back into the lively, pedestrian-based places they were conceived as. Now, I think we in North Park are a bit heavy on the restaurant/entertainment side (which makes me really happy compared to 2004, definitely) and light on offices, workplaces, retail stores, and, most importantly, places that make things. I’d really like to help our neighborhood put our culture of craftsmanship front and center. And a great place for us to start is, naturally, beer.

Specifically, I’ve recently become semi-obsessed with the idea of the Linkery transforming into a brewpub. “Brewpub” isn’t really the word, I should say either a brewery with an excellent restaurant or an excellent restaurant that brews its own beer. I picture the space on the corner of 30th Street and North Park Way, with the open-air vibe and the beautiful city landscape, as a brewery/restaurant and it makes me think the neighborhood would be even more awesome than it already is.

I love this idea.  Doesn't San Diego have enough breweries? No. Nor do we have enough distilleries. The building, unfortunately, is not set up to run a still — but making gallons upon gallons of great local beer? Hell yes. I encourage anyone serious about the idea of opening a brewery in San Diego to track down Porter at the Linkery.

The Linkery
3794 30th St
(at North Park Way in North Park)
San Diego CA USA
619 255 8778

Photo above from Assemble Magazine. Original here