In the Mix
Enter a Den of Delicious Decadence
Chocolate as aphrodisiac? I’ve read often enough that it is. Eating dark chocolate can boost both serotonin, which is linked to sexual arousal, and phenylethylamine, associated with attraction and falling in love. Killjoys say there’s not enough of either for a genuine wallop of lust; that the effect is psychological. But in a British study, where researchers wired up volunteers and compared the physiological effects of kissing with that of sucking on chocolate, the buzz from chocolate doubled the heart rate and lasted four times as long as the kapow from the most passionate kiss.
These things came to mind when I stepped into Malena Lopez-Maggi and Clive Brown’s delicious little den of decadence, Xocolate Bar, at 1709 Solano Ave. in Berkeley. It’s filled with guilty pleasures and amor. There’s a veritable women’s bathhouse of naked bodies, for example, fashioned from chocolate, and a wickedly erotic Kama Sutra line that Lopez-Maggi makes using molds from France. The layer of luster dust she adds — a shimmering edible decorating powder — gives glowing definition to all the intimate bits.
The day of my visit, Lopez-Maggi is experimenting. “Try this,” she says, breaking a piece of the dark stuff from a slab she’s in the process of unwrapping. “This is an aphrodisiac bar I’m making. The final version will be more melt-
in-the-mouth, but you can taste the flavor.” It’s a heady blend that includes chai spice, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, Kashmiri chili, ginger and Maca root. She calls this last ingredient “the great new Peruvian wonder ingredient,” referring to the legendary sex-enhancing qualities of the plant, which in recent months has been getting fevered press despite the fact it dates back to the Incas. “Here we have the heat and the Maca in combination with the dark chocolate,” she says, sure she’s hit upon a rousing winner.
Xocolate Bar has a feeling of a chocolate boudoir. Glinting chandeliers, walls painted a passionate shade of red, gilt frames —
and a decadent lavishness — all testimony to what you can find if you dig around on Craigslist. Then there are the flavors they create that roll over the tongue and set the taste buds dancing — like kalamata olive caramel (my favorite); chocolate-covered apricot marzipan with Grand Marnier; chocolate-dipped figs (in season at the time); Aztec bonbons with a center of cinnamon, orange and chile; and the best-seller, the caramel with fleur de sel (sea salt). Lopez-Maggi and Brown, who is British-born and thinks of himself as part scientist, part artistic entrepreneur, and a hands-on kind of guy, are partners in both business and life. They met when he advertised on Craigslist for someone to sell his jewelry line at concerts. Their relationship developed from there. They now sell the jewelry in the chocolate shop.
The idea for the chocolate business was born when, while manning a booth at an exhibition for the metal-working firm she was working for, Lopez-Maggi noted crowds swarming past her — to the participating chocolate company. She went home, suggested to Brown that they get into chocolate, and that was it. After a couple of costly and overambitious false starts, and with a couple of UC Davis chocolate and confectionery technology classes under one of the bright aprons Lopez-Maggi makes
and sells in the shop, the pair started winning awards — and their careers as artisanal avant-garde chocolatiers was launched. They’ve been raising the bar — and the passions of a multitude of chocoholics — ever since.
See more, including prices, at thexocolatebar.com.
A Puerh-fectly Good Cup of Tea
Brother-and-sister team Ahmed and Reem Rahim have a knack for doing things right. At the recent 10th anniversary party of Numi, their Oakland-based tea company (numitea.com), one after another associate got up to offer accolades about Numi products, staff relations, environmental integrity and more. Kudos are also due Numi packaging and presentation with artwork by Reem, who was flying to Italy for a three-week art workshop the morning after the party. Then she was going to China as part of the launch of Numi’s newest product, puerh (pronounced poo-urr) tea.
While traditional tea is oxidized, puerh tea, which dates back more than 2,000 years and is reputedly healthier than green tea, undergoes a fermentation process. It is typically compressed into blocks or cakes, and it can be aged and classified by year and region, like wine. As is Numi’s style, the company has combined tradition with marketability, so this product resembles an elegantly packaged slab of chocolate, though that is just one of the ways Numi is packaging puerh. Numi also offers a loose variety, plus a line of flavored bottled puerh teas, which are organic and packaged in recyclable glass bottles. Naturally.
The principals of Because We Can, a sustainable interior design and custom furniture studio, don’t leave their green esthetic at the office. The husband-and-wife team of Jeffrey McGrew and Jillian Northrup has a design for living, too.
The company, based in Oakland, was sparked a few years ago by the acquisition of a new toy, the computer-controlled router that lets them translate computerized designs into the fanciful, lacy wooden cutouts that characterize much of their work.
At first, they made things for themselves and their friends, and those products are still available via their online store, Becausewecan.org. By 2007, connections to game development companies led to interior design projects that let them stretch creatively and quit their day jobs.
McGrew and Northrup were early aboard the green bandwagon, deciding from the beginning that they didn’t want to spend their workdays around toxic materials. Last year, grappling with how to expand the company without turning into stressed-out factory workers, they came up with four principles by which they evaluate every potential project: sustainable, creative, reasonable and interesting. And the work must be interesting to others, as well as to them.
“If we make something that interests people, something they love, they’ll keep it around, so it won’t just wind up in the dump,” McGrew says.
Although their training is in architecture and photography, McGrew and Northrup say they’re geeks — and it shows not only in the high-tech tools they use, but also in the open-source spirit of their shop. Because We Can holds an open house (1722 15th St., Suite C) on the second Thursday of the month. The evenings are part marketing and part salon, where fellow artists and artisans can swap ideas and techniques.
“We decided early on we didn’t want to be a business that hoards a single design and that’s how they make their money,” Northrup says.
The studio’s work cuts deeper than its wooden filigree. The couple also has designed entire buildings, inside and out, and spun off 10 Miles Wide to provide design services to developers.
— Susan Kuchinskas
From the Blog-Oak-Sphere
Blog: Living in the O
About It: Rebecca Saltzman, aka Becks, the blogger behind Living in the O, started out two years ago decidedly nonpolitical, writing about the arts, riding the bus and seasonal produce. But the call to politics was too strong, and she now adds zoning and transit planning to the mix. Politics are in her blood — she is chief of staff for Americans for Safe Access, the largest national member-based organization promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, and she advocates for better public transit
How It Started: Saltzman read Beth Bagwell’s Oakland: The Story of a City and wanted to share her own enchantment
Goal: Her purpose is to shed light on aspects of Oakland that aren’t covered much in the news and engage readers in Oakland community and policy.
Benefits of Online Organizing: “The blog-oak-sphere prevented a parking lot from being built in the heart of Uptown Oakland,” she says, characterizing the effort as “fighting an uphill battle that few thought we would win. Dozens of us testified at hearings, sent e-mails to council members and did research on alternatives. In the end, the effort was worth it, and we prevailed. This win showed me that there is true power in the blog-oak-sphere, and I look forward to winning more political fights with the help of fellow bloggers and blog readers.”
The Statue of Liberty at Quinn’s Lighthouse
People have been coming to Quinn’s Lighthouse on the Oakland Embarcadero for many, many years—since 1890, actually. But if Quinn’s fans are returning after an absence of, say, eight years or so, you might catch them scratching their heads.
“What’s that Statue of Liberty doing there?” ask the huddled masses. “We don’t recall that being there.”
That’s because it’s been there only since 2001, according to General Manager Ken Frates. Frates said the former owner, the late Arthur Wellens, bought the statue at an auction following 9/11, had the base installed and proclaimed the space “Embarcadero Center.”
Frates says it has become almost as big an attraction as the peanuts crowd in the upstairs pub section of the restaurant.
“People just love it,” he says. “We see them all the time, posing on and in front of the statue, taking pictures. It’s very popular.”
— George Shirk
Get Minxed in the 510
Forget old-fashioned press-on nails and stickers. Today’s fashionistas prefer Minx nails for glamorous manis and pedis.
These flexible polymer imposters go on more like heated shrink-wrap than press-ons, with aficionados praising their ease of application and flair. Minx manicurists can customize styles, down to photos and graphics, but the Minx line maxes out with 165-plus sparkly metallics (Silver or Gold Lightning) and colors (Pink Camouflage, anyone?), patterns (plaids, paisleys and houndstooths) and designs (flames, skulls, swooshes and hearts).
The product debuted last year in So Cal and, thanks to celebrities, has spread like a gigantic spilled bottle of nail polish to more than 30 states and 14 countries.
“I love Minx nails! I love doing this service because it is a definite attention grabber,” says Soo-Jin Yang of Oakland’s Cosmo Spa Lounge. “Right now, all the celebrities are wearing Minx nails — even Beyoncé wore them at the inauguration.”
In Oakland, manicure mavens in major need of Minxing ($65 manicure, $85 pedicure at Cosmo Spa Lounge) can visit Cuticles Nail Spa 3814 Park Blvd., 510-689-0137, CuticlesNailSpa.com; Cosmo Spa Lounge, 154 Santa Clara Ave., Suite 5, 510-922-8770, CosmoSpaLounge.com) and Bare Canvas Natural Nail Spa & Studio, 1470 MacArthur Blvd., 510-482-8211, bcnailspa.com. For other East Bay Minx locations, visit minxnails.com.
—Judith M. Gallman
The Six Questions
Who: Arngunnur Ýr, 46, of Oakland.
What: She’s a guide in her native Iceland, leading hiking tours in French, English and German, then returning to Oakland to capture the raw nature as a professional painter.
When: The tours take place in summer, when the sun never sets. Winters are spent in her Oakland studio working on dramatic landscape paintings. “They usually have around 100 to 200 layers of [oil] paint when finished, and the sheen of my work has an internal glow which radiates alluring, intense, luminous energy.”
Where: Tours leave out of the capital, Reykjavik, and highlight Iceland’s rare geological formations like glaciers, geysers and volcanoes. “I love explaining Iceland’s geological history. I know the dates of all the major eruptions, lengths of rivers, depths of lakes and ice sheets, heights of mountains, etc.”
Why: Even after 25 years of living in the United States, Iceland’s
raw landscape and intense weather are part of her character. “There
is something about the elements in the nature … so powerful … they
have such an impact on me.”
How: Her husband and two teenagers often spend summers in Iceland to facilitate her job and her passion. Her paintings are sold to collectors and featured in major museums. She will be exhibiting at Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco for three weeks starting Dec. 12.
When Grab-and-Go Meals Change Lives
Green, local, sustainable — just what you’d expect in the Bay Area. But this time there’s a twist. A good one. When you choose a takeout prepackaged entrée from the Meals for Change line at a participating retail store, you nourish yourself with an already-made meal that is locally sourced and farm-fresh, and you help feed the hungry with similarly nutritious, delicious food. Conceived as a source of support for Bay Area Community Services’ programs (serving the elderly and disabled since 1953) and working in a partnership with the Community Alliance for Family Farmers, Meals for Change is a social enterprise kitchen producing goods for retailers. Proceeds support Meals on Wheels and other nonprofit nutrition programs and also fund nonprofit job training initiatives.
The idea, says Oakland financial planner Cathy Curtis — she’s the volunteer chairwoman of the Bay Gourmet program for the Commonwealth Club and a member of the advisory council for Meals for Change — is to feed the most vulnerable in society with quality nutrition made from fresh, locally sustainable ingredients and to provide jobs. The proceeds from Meals for Change items will do just that.
Check the “retail stores” link on the Meals for Change Web site, mealsforchange.com, to see where you can purchase the products.
Definition: World-Class Research Center
Did you know that Oakland has a world-class medical research center? The campus at 5700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way may look rather unassuming from the street, but its halls buzz with scientists studying everything from genomics to molecular biology. This is the home of the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, or CHORI, which is part of Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. The medical history being made right here is only the latest chapter in the building’s eventful life.
Built in 1923 as University High School, it became the home of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. It managed to survive being boarded up for decades until Children’s Hospital began a renovation of the 80,000
square feet that maintains the gracious proportions and expansive layout while inserting private laboratories and all the technology that go with modern science.
The renovation, by Dowler-Gruman Architects, preserves Old World features such as lavish woodwork and tall windows. Cozy offices with fine woodwork line the hallways, while the classrooms behind them have been turned into labs filled with natural light from a central courtyard. The large lecture hall has been fitted with state-of-the-art electronic equipment to facilitate presentations and meetings. And the original school library has become a luxurious venue for receptions. Continuing its tradition of serving the community, the building also is home to the North Oakland Senior Center.
Like a vintage car with a new, high-performance engine, this reinvented structure is now part of our high-tech future.
Contact Cathy Hutton, associate vice president for philanthropy, medical research, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for a CHORI tour.
— Susan Kuchinskas
IN THE SCENE
Art and Commerce Collide
Since 2006, a bevy of businesses has popped up around the intersection of 40th Street and Piedmont Avenue, all of them owned by young, creative entrepreneurs who sell everything from bikes to zines to tattoos and vintage threads. As a sideline, several of them show local artists’ works on their walls, so Oakland curator Obi Kaufmann, who lived in the neighborhood, suggested they all collaborate on an
This past spring, the 40th Street Art Quest was born. It’s a walk scheduled semi-regularly where guests stroll from shop to shop with a treasure map that guides them Monopoly board–like through this up-and-coming neighborhood. More than just an Art Murmur north, Art Quest is a combination art walk and shop local campaign where participants who visit each venue get their map stamped for a chance to win a gift certificate.
Among the shops and galleries are Manifesto where Sam Cunningham and Mackay Gibbs sell new and rebuilt bikes and 1-2-3-4 Go! Records where Steve Stevenson doles out advice on the latest indie and punk vinyl. SubRosa Coffee fuels art strollers with its Four Barrel brew while at Issues, husband-and-wife team Noella Teele and Joe Colley, run a jaw-droppingly comprehensive international newsstand. At Premium Tattoo and Vintage, artist Matt Decker is famous for his ink while wife Hilary Decker sells vintage threads.
The one true gallery among the bunch — Rowan Morrison Gallery — features exhibits and fine art books curated by Pete and Narangkar Glover. “We want folks to think of 40th Street as more than a way to get from Piedmont to MacArthur BART,” Narangkar Glover says. “We’re proud of what’s happening in the neighborhood and that all the businesses are independently owned
So who said art and commerce don’t mix?
On Dec. 12, the merchants are hosting a special evening-long simultaneous party in each of their shops to celebrate the holidays and their Oakland-grown products. The next Art Quest is scheduled for spring 2010. Visit rowanmorrison.com for more info.
— Jeanne Storck
They Give Back
Local Pros and Their Causes
Nnamdi Asomugha Oakland Raiders Cornerback
Asomugha is heavily involved with the East Oakland Youth Development Center. Among his biggest contributions is taking EOYDC high school students on an annual college trip. They’ve gone to Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Georgia Tech, Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, Brown University, the Berklee College of Music, NYU, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, The Fashion Institute of Technology and Fordham University.
Jimmy Rollins Philadelphia Phillies Shortstop
The Oakland native set up the The Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation to help children and young adults living with arthritis. The foundation provides funds for families and awareness about the disease, primarily with his annual BaseBOWL Tournament, in which celebrities and executives compete in bowling.
Ronny Turiaf Golden State Warriors Center
After having open heart surgery his rookie year, Ronny Turiaf created the Heart to Heart Foundation to help provide funds for children who need echocardiograms and other heart tests. That is in addition to various community work, which earned him the Angela & Christopher Cohan Community Service Award, given annually to a Warrior.
Fred Biletnikoff Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame Receiver
In 1999, in response to the murder of his daughter, Tracey, Fred and his wife, Angela, created the Biletnikoff Foundation to support young women recovering from substance abuse and to help prevent domestic violence. The Biletnikoff Foundation uses its Raiders ties to put on an annual golf tournament and crab feed. It also works with STAND!, an organization that provides crisis victims and their children with emergency shelter, counseling, support groups and transitional housing.
Gary Payton Retired NBA Star Point Guard
The Oakland native has given loads of money over his career to various organizations: Boys & Girls Club of America, Make-a-Wish Foundation, HIV awareness programs and the East Oakland Youth Development Center. He once had the Gary Payton Foundation to assist underprivileged youth in Oakland and hosts an annual charity basketball game.
—Marcus Thompson II
Montclair Pocket Park
To walk the length and breadth of one of the smallest parks in Oakland takes about 27 steps, if you go the long way. For those who want to take a breather along the way, there’s room for four on a stone bench near the summit.
This is Montclair’s Short Line Pocket Park, built in 2006-07 by volunteers working for the Montclair Safety and Improvement Council. The park is at the northern entrance to Montclair and replaces a fenced-in, ratty old corner that was owned, oddly enough, by the Oakland school district. The school district got it from the old Sacramento Short Line railroad, which ran passenger trains into Montclair over this patch until 1941 and freight trains until 1957.
Anyway, back to the park. It’s at the corner of Thornhill Drive and Moraga Avenue, at a stoplight, across the street from a freeway off-ramp (State Route 13) as well as a freeway on-ramp. There is only one trail, of course, and the wildlife more or less starts and ends with humans. Still, it’s a nice place to catch your breath on a fall afternoon.
— George Shirk
New Releases from East Bay Authors
Mother Goose in California by Doug Hansen
(Heyday Books, 2009, 40 pp., $16.95)
Berkeley-based Heyday has a winner with this new take on Mother Goose nursery rhymes by native Californian Doug Hansen. A Central Valley illustrator, he inserts elements from the familiar childhood tales into a Western landscape, using native plants and animals and landmarks to give his ABC picture book an added educational component about the Golden State.
Busy Chickens by John Schindel and Steven Holt
(Tricycle Press, 2008, 20 pp., $6.95)
The 10th book in Tricycle Press’ Busy Book series, this one is for toddlers who may be curious about chickens. For some reason chickens always seem funny, and the close-up images of these clowns show them walking, squawking, cheeping, leaping, etc. The rhymes are by Oakland-based John Schindel, and Steven Holt of Coos Bay, Ore., is the photographer. Very cute.
The Chemistry of Connection: How the Oxytocin Response Can Help You Find Trust, Intimacy and Love by Susan Kuchinskas
(New Harbinger Publications, 2009, 165 pp., $16.95)
Berkeley-based author Susan Kuchinskas explores oxytocin
— the so-called cuddle hormone — and its relationship to intimacy issues such as bonding, love and commitment and contemplates questions like why women dig cuddling and men prefer sex. An accomplished science, technology and culture journalist, Kuchinskas looks at attachment, connection and relationships and how oxytocin can define, defeat and improve trust, intimacy and love issues. The book covers the scientific nature of the chemical connection in decidedly understandable terms, which makes for a good read. She moves the action along with illustrative anecdotes and suggested exercises for improving the oxytocin response, turning out a hopeful package for commitment phobes, needy mates and indifferent partners.
It Came From Berkeley: How Berkeley Changed the World by Dave Weinstein
(Gibbs Smith, 2008, 224 pp., $24.99)
Bay Area reporter and author Dave Weinstein pieces together a wacky and inventive portrait of Berkeley in an image-rich, thorough traipse through the People’s Republic. Bright colors, graphic factoids and telegraphic captions create added visual interest to the straightforward prose. Hippies, protestors, the liberal elite, poets, politicians, college kids, landmarks, scientists, musicians, homecoming queens, the late Charles “Ozzie” Osborne and a fresh-faced Alice Waters — they’re all here. After all, as Weinstein points out, this is the same city that gave us listener-sponsored radio, California cuisine, the lie detector, the atom bomb, the wet suit and the hot tub.
—Judith M. Gallman
If you proudly count kitties or canines among your tribe, they’re undoubtedly very lucky pets — and likely a mite spoiled. That’s because the East Bay is home to some of the country’s most alluring and progressive pet boutiques. From deluxe hand-stitched pillow beds in dazzling fabrics to treats catering to every imaginable appetite (pig snout, Fido?), you won’t have to travel far to find yourself in, well, true dog heaven.
The Chic, Cutting-Edge Pet
Dog Bone Alley
1342 Park St., Alameda, (510) 521-5800
730 Camino Ramon, Danville, (925) 552-0410
With the opening of Dog Bone Alley on Park Street five years ago, owner Elizabeth Pinkerton created what has become nothing short of a neighborhood institution for the pet lovers of sunny Alameda. The spacious shop is filled to the gills with everything a pampered pet could ever want or need, and yet it’s not at all cluttered, giving customers (and their pooches) space to roam and explore. A full line of stylish doggie wear? Check. A selection of adorable leashes and collars so vast you could easily switch ’em up every week for years? Check. A refrigerator chock full of raw food goodness from Bay Area–based Primal Pet? Check! Add tons of other unusual and useful items (from pet-training clickers to pig snouts and hooves) and you’re set. Plus, for the often-underserved cat, there’s an entire wall devoted to kitty joy. Purr.
The Hipster Pet
5523 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 428-2785
The vibe here is classic Rockridge — modern, friendly and aesthetically pleasing without feeling fancy. Chances are good you’ll be greeted at the door by one of the loveable store dogs, and if your own mutt is in tow, he’ll be snarfing down freebie treats within seconds. (Just try to keep him away when you’re in the ’hood!) You won’t find sparkly trinkets here, but rather an ample stable of health-conscious, often hard-to-find edibles, beds and home goods, classically cool leashes and collars (those by Ollydog brand are a favorite) and plenty of spot-on advice for solving your pet quandary of the day.
The Supremely Pampered Pet
1844 Fourth St., Berkeley, (510) 644-1033
Let’s be honest here: If what your pet eats is generally more important to you that what you put in your own mouth, and you’d rather spend your cash on a luxe new bed for her than replace your own sagging mattress, then George should be the first stop on your doggie boutique daytrip. Either that, or you simply demand a top-of-the line lifestyle for your very best friend. The majority of the items you’ll find at this tidy, charming shop are George-brand products that you can’t snag anywhere else. While best known for a back wall stocked with a fabulous array of customizable plush pet beds in fabrics any interior designer would sigh over, you’ll also find adorable hand-knit dog sweaters and animal-shaped cat toys in a rainbow of colors, healthy bulk snacks (including George’s own special blend for cats that also will enjoy striped fabric “kitty crackers” stuffed with organic catnip) and frosted dog cookies that just may make your own stomach growl.
The Down-to-Earth Pet
Paws on Piedmont
3974 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, (510) 601-7297
There is zero snoot-factor at this friendly mom-and-pop spot, where stellar customer service and a wide range of quality basics and then some (think clever Halloween costumes, not au currant daily dogwear) guarantee that you’ll amble off grinning.
On a recent visit a staffer eagerly unwrapped a sealed mystery product called Da Bird Feather Teaser to demonstrate just how excited a new cat owner’s kitty would become upon spotting a flurry of feathers flying through the air. She was right — eight bucks has never been better spent. Paws also offers home pet visits and dog walking for those times when you can’t attend to your little one but want to be sure that someone will pour on the love as much as you do.
—By Lauren Gard
—Photography by Chris Duffey
Food Flick for All
In the ideological battles over sustainable food, the criticism that skeptics most often level is that the food movement is elitist. Poor people can’t afford organic broccoli, they say. Food Stamped, a new documentary from Berkeley filmmaker Yoav Potash and his wife, nutrition educator Shira Potash, delves into the heart of this debate as the couple chronicles their attempt to eat strictly healthy, organic food for one week on $50, the cash equivalent of what they would get if they were eligible for food stamps.
The humorous, touching and ultimately provocative film includes interviews with actual food stamp clients, as well as policy makers and a nutritionist. The results of the couple’s earnest attempt, full of black beans and brown rice, is itself food for thought. “We figured that it would be interesting to see what would happen trying to eat on a food stamp budget with a nutrition expert planning and preparing the meals,” says Yoav Potash, “knowing that most families don’t have that.”
The results are fascinating and raise important questions about the assumptions underlying government food policy as well as the role of “personal responsibility” in American’s deepening diet-related health crisis. The film should be required viewing for Whole Foods owner John Mackey whose Wall Street Journal editorial in August caused a flurry in the food community when he suggested health care should require more “personal empowerment” from Americans, particularly with respect to their eating habits. The Potashs are pitching the film to PBS, and screening it locally in the meantime.
For the current schedule of screenings, and to learn more about the film, visit foodstamped.com.
— Kathyrn Jessup
Shaken, Not Stirred
Man on a Mixology Mission
I am on a mission. It may not be as momentous as Neil Armstrong landing on the moon or Barack Obama landing in the White House, but it is important nonetheless to us who reside and imbibe in the East Bay. My mission is to shine a light on East Bay mixologists, their signature drinks and the establishments lucky enough to have their creative prowess behind their bars.
By way of introduction, I am Lonnie Long, an Oakland native, bar consultant and a member of the United States Bartender Guild who plies my trade at Picán and Maxwell’s Lounge in Oakland.
Follow me on an ongoing tour through the underrated (and overlooked) world of East Bay drink culture that begins with my own comfort drink, a recipe that won first place at a Square One vodka mixology contest at Rye in San Francisco.
Bite O Honey
2 ounces premium vodka
1 ounce Frangelico
½ ounce cream (or eggnog)
½ ounce organic honey syrup
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 square Bit-O-Honey
(or 1 cinnamon stick)
Add all ingredients to a shaker with cracked ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. To garnish, take a square of Bit-O-Honey candy, cut a small slit in the square and place it on the rim of the cocktail glass (or insert a cinnamon stick if Bit-O-Honey proves too elusive). Enjoy!
— Lonnie Long