Nov. 4, 2015 -
On Nov. 12 Duggan McDonnell will be speaking at City Lights Bookstore about his latest book, "Drinking the Devil's Acre". We recently got a chance to chat with him about his book and other thoughts.
How did you learn so much about the history of the City and its cocktail culture, and what got you started down this path?Duggan:
"Great question! When I opened Cantina
on Sutter Street [in] 2007, I yearned to know all of the unique cocktails and personae who'd come before me in San Francisco, shaking and stirring behind the stick. I needed to know upon whose giant shoulders I was standing. And as a leader of this culture, I believed I'd be remiss if I didn't do so.
That's when I began my research into not just cocktail books, but [also] local history; I read dozens of books on the early history of California. Ours [is] a culture that [loves] to drink, and throughout many books, cocktails, wines and spirits are mentioned."
The book contains not just cocktail recipes but formulas and recipes for various cocktail ingredients. Was it hard sharing all that intellectual property? Do you have any secrets left?Duggan:
"Folks, I'm out of secrets -- they're all yours now! I'm of the belief that a great creator must share her intellectual property with the world ... But, remember this: The penultimate chapter of the book is titled 'To Create Every Cocktail With Love'. Remember that. What good is a recipe if [it] isn't prepared with love?"
You mention quite a few bars in San Francisco in the book and include a cocktail route map. What are a few places these days, beyond that route, that you recommend?Duggan:
"These days San Francisco is alive with great drink. Enjoying a fantastic cocktail has never been easier. But, it's not just about experimenting with the amazing cocktails at Aatxe
, it's critical to remember history and stop into Schroeder's and Spec's. Soak up the atmosphere of the old city."
Which classic cocktail you do think is poised for a comeback and why?Duggan:
"We're living through the renaissance of the Negroni, which has been a San Francisco staple for over 50 years. I suspect the Smash, with all its fresh fruit and many-flavored possibilities, will become a staple in the years to come."
I think of you as kind of a renaissance man; you write, you teach, you tend bar, you have helped to produce and introduce Pisco and Jardesca. What's next?Duggan:
"I'm spending more and more time on Campo de Encanto Pisco these days; it's growing so fast internationally. In particular, I'm working on my next book, my memoir of becoming a distiller of Pisco in Peru. It's a narrative in a similar fashion to "Drinking the Devil's Acre" and it connects California [to] Peru, Pisco [to] craft cocktails, the nexus [in] struggles of starting new businesses, [and] of telling the world about something so historic and pure. In short, it's a complex, intoxicating love story!"