If you’ve ever seen Chris Cosentino on Food Network, you know it doesn’t take much to get him excited about cooking. It’s probably the reason why the chef still pulls 16-hour shifts five days per week at his acclaimed San Francisco restaurant Incanto, while simultaneously working on books and other projects.
And as we found out recently, his passion for liquor is almost as deep. “I’m a gin freak,” he admits. “I love gin.” His bar at home is appropriately stocked with many different varieties of the juniper-infused spirit, including bottlings from local distilleries Anchor and St. George Spirits. And not surprisingly, he’s a fan of the Negroni. “I don’t think I could survive without that one,” he says. But he is quick to add he has it on the rocks. “I never drink it up. Never liked it. Never will.”
Despite his ardor for the classic, he can’t enjoy the concoction at Incanto, since it has just a beer-and-wine license. Except for not being able to serve grappa or amaro, he doesn’t usually mind; in fact, the restaurant often offers a delicious beer cocktail, the Bloody Roman. The spicy and sudsy twist on the Bloody Mary even features a briny Kumamato or Kusshi oyster. “It’s killer,” he says. It’s good with brunch, but it’s also “perfect for barbecue.”
That doesn’t mean he’s stopped thinking about gin. He revealed that his “ultimate dream” would be to open an establishment whose bar carries only the alcohol. “An equal-opportunity gin seller,” he says. We can’t wait.
Contributed by Chris Cosentino
- 12 Castelvetrano or other mild green olives, pitted
- 3 (12-oz) bottles Beer (preferably Anchor Steam), cold
- Roman Mix*
- 12 oysters (preferably Kumamato or Kusshi), shucked, liquor reserved
- Garnish: Olives, serrano chiles and chile threads
- Glass: Pint
Place 2 olives in each of 6 pint glasses. Pour half a bottle of beer into each glass and top with the Roman Mix, divided evenly among the glasses. Place 2 shucked oysters with their liquor in each glass and garnish with an additional olive, a serrano chile and a few chile threads.
- 3 lb Heirloom tomatoes, cored and chopped coarsely
- 1 tbsp Salt-packed capers, rinsed and chopped
- 2 Red Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped
- 1 Shallot, finely diced
- 2 tbsp Chopped pickled peppers (preferably Mama Lil’s)
- 2 tsp Asian fish sauce (preferably Red Boat)
- 1 tsp Cabernet vinegar
- 1 tsp Ground Aleppo pepper
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Pass the tomatoes through a food mill set over a bowl and fitted with the fine grinding wheel. Add the capers, chiles, shallot, peppers, fish sauce, vinegar and Aleppo pepper, and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.
(Photo courtesy Michael Harlan Turkell)