My All You Can Jet travels would begin in San Francisco. Taboo Absinthe in hand, it was nice to visit a familiar city that I had been to many times in the past to kick off the long trek. I visited a multitude of bars by day hawking my hooch, and then visiting even more by night for “research” purposes. I would get a lot of “research” done over the course of the month, a lot of research. Familiar places and new, there had been some really great new openings in San Francisco in the recent past.
One of the ones I was most excited about was Bar Agricole. Rum is my first love among all spirits and rhum agricole is first in my heart among r(h)um. Bar Agricole if you can’t tell from the name makes an especial emphasis on rhum agricole, making my heart leap with joy and anticipation. There is a phenomenal patio out front, exactly the most perfect place possible to have a refreshing beverage on a late summer night. I knew I’d be spending many visits here in the future.
Photo courtesy of Bittermelon a Flickr
After San Francisco it was time to hit the road with my ragtop down so my hair can blow and head to Los Angeles. It has been nothing short of miraculous how the craft cocktail scene has progressed in LA in the last few years. It’s been fantastic how it has grown both from native talent and from people lured to the bright lights of LA. Several of those bars are clustered around downtown.
For anyone who lived in Southern California during the 80’s and 90’s will remember downtown LA as a total wasteland after people got off of work. The office towers emptied and the area became a total ghost town every night populated by a few skateboarders maybe. In the last five years downtown has had a total rebirth and has grown a full-fledged and vibrant nightlife. It’s simply astonishing how much has happened there in such a short time and is an excellent example of how to reclaim and revitalize a section of a city. The Edison, Varnish, Las Perlas, Rivera, Cole’s, Seven Grand, and Caña have all really upped the quality of drinks available and provide an ability to go from place to place in close proximity to create that true walkable actual nightlife district that was entirely lacking in years past.
Obviously, the one that excites me the most is Caña. Dedicated to r(h)um in all of its glory this is a temple to me, and the scene of many wonderful nights since my first visit. I love the development of how smoking areas in bars in California have evolved since their smoking ban went into place. For the bars with the space and means to do so, they have done a fantastic job of creating areas that are as appealing and comfortable if not more so than some of the interior spaces. After all, what could be bad about sitting on a patio by a fireplace late at night with a glass of a fine aged r(h)um in hand. Truly, it was one of the best ways to make the best of a mandate and so damnably civilised. To my friends and all I met in California, here’s a glass of rum to you.