You’re trapped on a desert island, but the good news is that you can bring five bottles of booze with you to pass the time. Look, there’s even ice and bar tools—you’re all set. What would you choose?
H. Joseph Ehrmann is the proprietor of San Francisco's Elixir, a historical saloon that dates to at least 1858. He restored the space (formerly known as Jack's Elixir Bar) to its Gold Rush–era glory with a new spirits collection and up-to-date cocktails. Mixologist, brand ambassador, consultant, all-around drinks connoisseur and Liquor.com advisory board member, Ehrmann comes well-prepared to stock an excellent desert island bar.
"OK, if I'm on an island, I'm imagining it in the Caribbean," says Ehrmann. He notes that he'll need rum on hand but also that if he's truly stuck there, he's going to need a more diverse selection to keep him occupied. Further, "since I'm not envisioning a lot of mixers, they must be solid on their own," he says.
With that in mind, these are his top five.
"Still, after all of these years, my favorite dram," says Ehrmann. He's not the only whisky drinker to follow the credo “In John Glaser and Compass Box we trust.” Ehrmann prefers the second edition of Flaming Heart if he can find it but knows it's hard to nab. The fifth edition of the whisky was released at the end of 2015. Either way, he loves the blend, which has always been known for its combination of peaty Islay scotch plus the presence of new French oak maturation.
"Amazing balance, richness and complexity," says Ehrmann. "I can sip this all day long. It would also remind me of my wife, who hopefully is on the island with me." Scoring brownie points all the way from the desert island, smart man.
We knew Ehrmann was stocking up on a rum, and here it is. "A classic, versatile rum from Barbados," says Ehrmann. "It's perfect on its own but also nice with all of that coconut water at my disposal on my island—and maybe some sugar cane."
If Tom Hanks in Castaway eventually figured out how to tap into his island's supply of coconut water, presumably Ehrmann could do the same.
There's no shortage of excellent cognac in the world, and Ehrmann shares his favorite here. "One of the most stellar examples of near-perfect cognac," he says.
Plus, that near perfection also carries extra significance for him. "It would remind me of my dedication to excellence and keep me focused," says Ehrmann.
"Delicious on its own, it amplifies the flavors of anything on the island I may mix with," says Ehrmann. Hey, Oprah Winfrey wouldn't lead us astray, would she?
Ehrmann has already picked a spirit that reminds him of his wife and one that reminds him of his dedication to excellence, so clearly he's not one to miss out on an opportunity for double duty. What's the multitasking benefit of the Square One, then? "It's good for cleaning injuries!"
"I'll need an unaged spirit with great character," says Ehrmann of this expression in the brand's Vino de Mezcal series. The mezcal is made from wild cupreata agave, also known as maguey papalome or papalometl, based on the Nahuatl word for butterfly, papalotl.
Not only is this an excellent mezcal, it's also extra special for Ehrmann. "I was on an early visit to this village with Ron Cooper trying to secure this mezcal so he could bring it to the world," says Ehrmann. "So I have a close connection to it. It's amazing."
Mixing your cocktail