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As San Diego's cocktail culture continues to advance, recon missions to check out mixology programs are becoming more and more common for food writers. I embarked on just such an assignment last night at Solace, the new Encinitas offshoot of North Park's Urban Solace, located in the LEED-certified Pacific Station complex on E Street off the 101. While certain S.D. spots are advancing the alcoholic medium by leaps and bounds, the movement is still in its infant stages. As such, cocktail investigations don't typically turn up too many eye-opening discoveries. But last night's was a definite exception.

I came across a myriad of spirits I had never encountered, the most memorable of which was Big Bottom, a rye whiskey produced in Hillsboro, Oregon that's aged in Port casks for two years. Despite being 91 proof, all of the currant and vanilla flavor from that wine-soaked wood comes through big time. That and a creamy and altogether delightful mouthfeel puts Big Bottom over the top, making it one of the most satisfying straight spirits I've had in quite some time.

Wow, whiskey that tastes good. What a revelation, right? Well, here's a cocktail enhancer that's definitely more out there: Willpowder egg white powder. Fans of old fashioned sours know that they're all about the egg whites. Versions of this classic cocktail that are made without them just ain't the same. But people have issues with raw eggs and that's certainly justifiable. That's what makes molecular gastronomist and ex-El-Bulli-stager-turned-entrepreneur Will Goldfarb's invention so great. It has tremendous staying power and doesn't go bad. And, when combined with whiskey, organic jasmine liqueur, lemon juice and orange bitters to create Solace's earthen, citrusy Jasmine Sour, it creates a foamy head every bit as coating as the genuine hydrated article. Egg-celenté!

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