New York City Bartenders Are Sweet on San Francisco


As you may or may not know, the New York/San Francisco divide goes beyond the kitchen — to the bar. San Francisco bartenders pride themselves on fresh pressed fruit juices and other housemade ingredients, while New York bartenders are reputed for their knowledge of the classics and technical adeptness. Yet, at a meeting of the United States Bartenders’ Guild on Monday at Yerba Buena Perry, the two coasts had nothing but love for each other, as Erick Castro from the Rickhouse in San Francisco spoke to USBG member from the Gotham chapter.

Castro expressed admiration, on behalf of his Californian brethren, of New York’s sophisticated cocktail scene, while offering that, in at least one respect (besides superlative produce), San Fran may be a pioneer: sugar.

A San Francisco Chronicle article recently pointed out how certain bartenders are starting to pay closer attention to the sugar content of their drinks — the way others are obsessed with ice — going as far as to measure the Brix, a measure of sugar, in syrups and sodas. Castro spoke about the trend on the west coast of avoiding juices and sodas that are made with high-fructose corn syrup or even the use of refined white sugar.

“[At Rickhouse], you won’t find any corn syrup,” he said, as several bartenders in the crowd nodded approvingly. “[We use] Mexican Coke… made with real sugar cane.”

Not sure if San Fran is really ahead of the curve on this one: a number of bars in New York make their own sodas and even proclaim themselves “corn-free.” Still, it’s nice to see everyone getting along.

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