Walter Mencken 5:01 p.m., Nov. 25
Craft Cocktails? How About Draft Cocktails?
So now I’m across the road, and, you might say, across the social divide.
Clue: bunch of fixies leaning on each other outside.
Big open barn space inside, original brick exposed on all walls, ancient redwood rafters. Looks like, opened up overhead, huge garage-door-type window rolled up to put the entire bar area on the street.
This is the spinoff from Basic, down in East Village: Urbn (3085 University Avenue, North Park, 619-255-7300).
Inside, a fan. But what a fan. It’s, like, 12-feet-across fan blades whirring. Looks like the rotor right off a Super Stallion chopper.
“Comes from Big Ass Fans,” says Dustin Haarstad, the pork-pie-hat guy behind the bar.
It’s a big ol’ space. Few booths, one settee arrangement, some high-stool counters, but lots of standing room.
And you know the next three nights -- Thursday, Friday, Saturday -- it’s gonna be packed. You don’t see a Trivial Pursuit quiz happening here.
Craft beers, on the other hand, are big time, front and center. San Diego Beer Week, all that. Tonight (Thursday) it’ll be Hess Brewing, the nano brewery, tiniest of all the 35-plus San Diego breweries, up around Miramar Road.
But this is last night when I haul up to a stool-for-two -- cool! -- at the bar and order a Mad River Jamaica Red from Dustin ($5). Beer of the night is from Victory, in Pennsylvania, so I don’t feel too bad.
Zach, guy next to me, is gnawing away at “coal-fired wings” from a little black iron skillet. They look so downhome, grandmaw’s-own, farmhouse fry up, I long to have at them.
Menu promises the chickens had a happy, free-range life. Zach says they taste superb, when I ask him.
On the other hand, guess I’m kinda winged out from U-31. Also, things ain’t the cheapest here. We’re talking mainly pizzas, which start out at $9 but mainly end up being around $15.
On the other hand, there is isn't anything under $9, now I look at it. So I go for the meatball appetizer from the “Begin” section for $9, when Chelsea the barkeep promises meatballs also come in that little skillet.
And they’re big, with a luscious tomato-based sauce, sour cream, a bay leaf and tons of flavor, and oh-so filling. I can feel my gut swelling.
Get talking to Dustin. He’s their passionate cocktail guy.
“We’re into craft beer big-time here,” he says. "But I'm specially into craft cocktails. There’s a revolution happening. Everything is done by hand. People want their drinks to be interesting, and new ideas thought up right here. You’re on your toes all the time with this crowd.”
He’s doing two "Say what?" things here. One is making “beer cocktails" such as the “Georgia on My Mind,” a mix of bourbon, peach liqueur, and Allagash White Ale, plus mushed peaches, oranges, and lemons that’ve been “coal fired” in their same pizza oven. It costs $10.
Beer and bourbon? Next time I have a spare Hamilton, I'll have to try it.
The other thing? “Not quite up and running yet,” he says. “But soon we’re going to have cocktails on tap, just like beer. Gonna start off with a new take on an Old Fashioned. The crowds we get here, it’ll save so much standing-around time.”
Me, I can't help imagining, after a couple of those, trying to count how many blades that Big Ass fan has while it spins around. I almost fall off my stool just thinking about it.
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