If the drinks at Rickhouse weren’t so damn good, the olde timey speakeasy theme park ambience and suspenders-and-mustaches bartenders might be pretty annoying. But this bar, near Union Square in San Francisco, has some superb cocktails.
I’d read a mention of Rickhouse’s Laphroaig Project cocktail in GQ‘s 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America piece, but once I got to the bar, I’d forgotten it. After perusing a short menu, I decided to ask the bartender—who I swear I’d seen the evening before behind the bar at 15 Romolo—for a suggestion. “I’m in the mood for something smoky,” I said. “The Laphroaig Project,” he said without skipping a beat. I agreed, excited, remembering then that I’d read about it and had meant to try it.
Laphroaig (pronounced la-FROYG), for the uninitiated, is one of the smokier single malt scotches out there. It’s not for every scotch drinker, but I’m a huge fan.
The Laphroaig Project came in a lowball glass over ice. It was smoky, but with a bit of citrus, and something slightly minty that I couldn’t place; I guessed it might be Fernet Branca, but it turned out to both Green and Yellow Chartreuse.
Rickhouse’s owners, who run another San Francisco bar called Bourbon & Branch, posted the recipe online:
The Laphroaig Project
1oz Green Chartreuse
.5oz Laphroaig Quarter Cask
.5oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
.25oz Yellow Chartreuse
1oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Fee Peach Bitters
It was created by Bourbon & Branch’s Owen Westman (who, sadly, left Rickhouse for his native Melbourne in September), and it has achieved a cult following.
Cocktail writer Camper English, of the blog Alcademics, challenged readers with this drink a couple of years ago, writing, “If you have all of these ingredients at home you are a huuuuge cocktail geek.” And, sadly, I currently have only one ingredient. Aaand, three of the ingredients will run at least $50 each for 750ml bottles. So I’m not likely to acquire them soon.
But, as English suggests, Laphroaig lovers might also enjoy the more easily created Pennicilin cocktail, created by Sam Ross of New York’s Milk & Honey, and served both there and at Dram in Brooklyn:
2oz blended scotch
.75oz fresh lemon juice
.75oz ginger-honey syrup
.25oz Islay scotch
That recipe via The Cocktail Chronicles. Now all I need is a bottle of Laphroaig.