Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

Dining Outside at JiuBa

Pork and shrimp dumplings in chili oil at JiuBa.
Pork and shrimp dumplings in chili oil at JiuBa.

Last summer, the incredibly splashy iChina opened its doors in the Westfield Valley Fair, bringing an air of Vegas to this Santa Clara-San Jose shopping center.

Standing two stories tall, sporting a virtual-reality private dining room with projection screens all around, and dripping with sparkly, shiny jade-hued glass and gold accents everywhere, this restaurant is a true sight to behold.

If you’re like me, though, and limiting yourself to dining outside at the moment, the bad news is that iChina, which means “love China” in Mandarin, offers only indoor dining.

However, its first-floor bar and lounge, JiuBa, does have outdoor seating.

JiuBa, which means “bar” in Mandarin, serves a much smaller menu. However, it is definitely possible to compose a full and satisfying dinner from it, as I found when I was invited in as a guest last week.

The bar inside shares the same opulent look as the rest of the restaurant, as if an enormous jade-emerald-diamond ring was the inspiration.

The glamorous bar inside JiuBa.
The glamorous bar inside JiuBa.
Would you believe this is the bathroom?
Would you believe this is the bathroom?

Even the all-gender bathroom looks as if it belongs in a modern-day Chinese palace.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 20

L'Apero les Trois' line of aperitifs comes in six flavors, including Blenheim Apricot.
L’Apero les Trois’ line of aperitifs comes in six flavors, including Blenheim Apricot.

L’Apero les Trois

Three women of three different generations in Winters, CA have joined forces to create a delicious new product that celebrates not only the agrarian bounty of Sonoma County, but a time-honored French tradition.

The result is L’Apero les Trois, a line of fruit-based, lower alcohol spirits known as aperitifs, which the French have enjoyed for generations as a pre-lunch or pre-dinner libation.

They are the brainchild of Georgeanne Brennan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author who taught cooking classes in France for years; Corinne Martinez, co-owner of Berryessa Gap Vineyards; and Nicole Salengo, Berryessa Gap’s winemaker.

As with all aperitifs, they are meant to be served chilled, sometimes with a few ice cubes in the glass, and topped off with sparkling wine or fizzy water, if you so choose.

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My Favorite Cocktail

My fave Negroni, with a big orange twist.
My fave Negroni, with a big orange twist.

In my household, there is no argument as to what our most favored cocktail is.

But there is disagreement over whose drink of choice it was first.

Let’s just say that I’m convinced I chose the Negroni way before my husband did.

After all, he can’t even tell you why he likes it. But I can. It’s all about that delightful bitter orange taste that does it for me, like that of the prized rind of Seville oranges in marmalade.

So when a review copy of the new “San Francisco Cocktails” (Cider Mill Press) landed on my porch, it was the perfect excuse to make at home the satisfying sip I usually order out.

This fun book is by my friend and colleague Trevor Felch, a Bay Area food and drinks writer who has assembled 100 San Francisco cocktail recipes and the stories behind them. Holy moly, just imagine the tipsy time testing all of those.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 19

A rosé that delivers on much more than taste.
A rosé that delivers on much more than taste.

2021 Monarch Challenge North Coast Rosé

In 2016, Carlo Mondavi — yes, grandson of Robert Mondavi — created the Monarch Challenge to bring attention to the plight of the beautiful Monarch butterfly, whose population has been devastated since the advent of Roundup.

Every year since then, he and his brother Dante have produced a limited rosé through their RAEN Winery in Sebastopol to bring attention to this environmental calamity befalling this invaluable pollinator, and to inspire other like-minded vintners to do the same.

I had a chance to try a sample of this year’s 2021 Monarch Challenge North Coast Rosé ($30), sales of which will benefit the conservation organization, the Xerces Society, and Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sick or orphaned wildlife.

Produced from RAEN Pinot Noir grapes and old-vine Grenache, all farmed organically, this pale salmon wine is an exuberant expression of strawberries and raspberries, with a hint of guava. It is crisp, tangy, and laced with minerality. It’s pure deliciousness.

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Dining Outside At Kaiyo Rooftop

Bluefin tuna toast gets glam at Kaiyo Rooftop.
Bluefin tuna toast gets glam at Kaiyo Rooftop.

To find San Francisco’s newest hot spot, all you need do is look up.

That’s where you’ll find Kaiyo Rooftop, up on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Place Hotel in the SOMA neighborhood.

Opened barely a month ago, it’s already drawing crowds, as evidenced by what I saw last Wednesday night when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. Even at 5 p.m. on a school night, every seat was taken at the eye-catching bar done up in glazed emerald tiles, along with about half the tables.

Kaiyo Rooftop is the sister property to Kaiyo restaurant in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, both of which specialize in Nikkei cuisine, a blend of Japanese and Peruvian In fact, a similar Kaiyo restaurant is expected to open on the ground floor of the hotel by the end of the year to serve more substantial fare like its Union Street sibling. In contrast, Kaiyo Rooftop’s menu is designed to be more bar food. Even so, it’s ample food for a meal.

The elevator doors.
The elevator doors.

Just be sure to dress in layers, and don’t forget a scarf or hat, too. That’s because the winds can be fierce up top, and the chill will definitely set in once the sun goes down, despite heaters being all around.

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