Stranger Things: A Few of Our Favorite New Fall Cocktails

Thanksgiving marks prime time for fall cocktail menus. They are brimming with inventive drinks to tickle your fancy. With unexpected touches and a nod to the season, these libations will get you ready to embrace the chill. Here are some of our favorite new fall cocktails that will have you jettisoning your usual for the unusual.

Smoke & Spice at Spoke & Steele, Indianapolis, Indiana
At Spoke & Steele, beverage director Tyler Burns offers up Smoke & Spice with rye, reposado tequila, amaretto, spiced simple syrup, apple bitters, alpine herb bitters, and cayenne. What makes the cocktail so unique is the way it’s served and the interactive way in which you drink it. Tyler sets a cedar plank out on the bar and ignites the wood with a blowtorch. After the wood has blackened and the cedar’s char begins to scent the air, he traps the smoke in coupe glass. The cocktail is served in a beaker next to the glass on the plank allowing the guest to turn over the smoke-filled glass and fill it with the cocktail. Make a reservation at Spoke & Steele.

New Fall Cocktails

The Original Sin at Market Restaurant + Bar, Del Mar, California
Nothing says autumn quite like apples, which, of course, are the basis for The Original Sin. Tempting with sweet and savory notes, the drink combines muddled Granny Smith apples with spicy chili-infused vodka and tarragon along with fresh lime. Make a reservation at Market Restaurant + Bar.

New Fall Cocktails

Sage Wisdom at Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Chicago, Illinois
At one of Chicago’s oldest and most quintessential steakhouses, you’ll find Sage Wisdom. This cocktail is comprised of sweet potato and pumpkin puree, Old Forrester bourbon, Amaro Nonino, cardamom bitters, and demerara syrup, with a silver sage garnish. It was created by restaurant manager Trevor Bierwirth and is sure to get you primed for Thanksgiving. Make a reservation at Lawry’s The Prime Rib.

New Fall Cocktails

Camote at La Mar, San Francisco, California
At the Peruvian restaurant La Mar, the sweetness of sweet potatoes is tempered not just with spice but Latin flair in the way of tropical pineapple, lime, and cilantro. The cocktail called Camote, which means sweet potato in Spanish, has sweet potato-infused ice, sweet potato vodka, allspice Dram, pineapple, lime, and cilantro. Make a reservation at La Mar.

New Fall Cocktails

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at Grant Grill, San Diego, California
Cory Alberto has created the Magnificent 7 cocktail menu for fall, inspired by his favorite old Westerns. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is perhaps the most masculine of the lot, concocted with dry-aged, ribeye-fat-washed rye, cyan, and sweet vermouth and topped with cigar foam. Make a reservation at Grant Grill.

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Paul Freedman on ‘Ten Restaurants That Changed America’ + the Future of Dining


Professor Paul Freedman specializes in medieval social history, the history of Catalonia, comparative studies of the peasantry, trade in luxury products, and the history of cuisine at Yale University. His latest book is Ten Restaurants That Changed America. In the book he discusses which 10 restaurants have been the most influential –not necessarily the best — in terms of influencing not only what Americans eat, but how we eat – -who we share tables with, how our eating habits reflect changes in the country, such as the end of slavery and the African diaspora, the rise of the middle class, the changing role of women in society, and much more.

This isn’t your first book about food, but how did a professor of medieval history come to write about restaurants in America?

I had a fellowship at the New York Public library. I was fascinated by the menu collection. There was one menu from Ladies Ordinary in Astor House in 1843, and it seemed so un-female. The menu had kidneys, calf brains, wild ducks. So that was my original interest. Coincidently I was asked to review books on food.

Why are New York and the San Francisco Bay Area so prominent in your list of the 10 restaurants that changed America?

If I were writing a history of American cuisines, they wouldn’t be so prominent. I would include the South and New England. But trends, including trends on dining, tend to start on the coasts. Both cities are influenced by ports and by France. Some of it is simply fashion.

Any restaurants that almost but didn’t quite make the cut?

Yes, the French Laundry and Alinea. The French Laundry combines farm-to-table and molecular trends. When it comes to runner-up categories it would be hard to ignore Mexican, steakhouses, and barbecue. I would choose sushi for its culinary influence. Sushi was regarded with virtual horror at first, and now it’s become ubiquitous.

Only a few of the 10 restaurants are still open. If you had to choose restaurants open today, which restaurants do you think are changing America?

In categories like fast casual — Shake Shack, or Chipotle, for Asian influences, Benu. With captive audiences (museum attendees)—In Situ or Danny Meyer’s Untitled at the Whitney. Sean Brock of Husk in Charleston and Nashville and Frank Sitt of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham are rediscovering Southern Cuisine.

Your book begins with dining in the mid-1800’s and ends in the 1970’s with Chez Panisse. Which restaurateurs are the standard bearers of the trends of today?

David Chang might incorporate a number of them—Asian influence, informality, celebrity chef. Danny Meyer restaurants are meant to be non-intimidating, eclectic, farm-to-table with high quality ingredients.

What do you make of the trend of restaurants being loud either with music or ambient noise?

If you ask chefs why they do it, they say most of their clients under 40 like it. A too-quiet restaurant doesn’t have buzz. The celebrity chefs—they impose what they want. A genius chef can be slightly obnoxious.

Where are you dining on your book tour? What have been some of the standouts?Continue Reading

San Francisco 2017 Michelin-Starred Restaurants: Reserve Now!


OpenTable is pleased to highlight the honorees in the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco 2017. Fifty-four restaurants are included, with six Bay Area restaurants receiving the Michelin three-star level, the highest recognition in the culinary world, including Quince, and seven achieving two Michelin stars. Forty-one restaurants earned one Michelin star. Hashiri and The Progress, among others, are new to the list.

Being included in the respected MICHELIN Guide is a sign of excellence and quality. In the U.S., 2017 MICHELIN Guides are forthcoming for Chicago and New York, and we recently highlighted the honorees in London and Washington, D.C.

The San Francisco 2017 Michelin-starred restaurants on OpenTable include:

Three Stars: Benu, The French LaundryManresa, Quince, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Saison.

Two Stars: AcquerelloCampton Place, and Coi.

One Star:  ADEGAAl’s PlaceAsterAuberge du SoleilAzizaBouchon, Chez TJCommonwealthHashiriJū-Ni, Keiko à Nob Hill, La Toque, Luce, Madera-Rosewood Hotel Sand HillMadrona Manor, Michael Mina, MosuMourad, Nico, Octavia, OmakasePlumed Horse, The ProgressRasaSolbarSons & DaughtersSPQRSpruceState Bird Provisions, Terra, Terrapin Creek Cafe & RestaurantThe Village Pub, and WAKO.Continue Reading

Counter Point: 5 Restaurants Offering Reservations and Counter Service

Traditionally, there was a strong split between casual counter service eateries and fine dining restaurants with table service. These days, enterprising entrepreneurs are trying to recalibrate restaurants by blending the two experiences together in a variety of creative configurations. Here are five restaurants offering reservations and counter service — rewriting the rules.

Megu, New York, New York
Make a reservation to sit down in the dining room or simply saunter up to the sushi counter where it’s first come, first serve. Chef Frances Tariga-Weshnak’s dishes delight the eye and the palate equally, so be prepared to shoot an Instagram before you take a bite. Hone in on the spicy tuna and truffled avocado roll, radish-adorned Wagyu beef, and the Matcha crepe layer cake. Make a reservation at Megu.

Restaurants offering reservations and counter service

Kingside, New York, New York
You’ll need a reservation if you want to score one of the plush booths at this New American stunner from chef Marc Murphy. However, the counter with red stools at the back is open to walk-ins. No matter where you sit, make sure to order the burger topped with fiery giardiniera relish, soppressata, and a slab of white cheddar, as well as Pecorino toast slathered with a snowdrift of ricotta and a golden drizzle of truffled honey. Make a reservation at Kingside.

Restaurants offering reservations and counter service

Little Gem, San Francisco, California
Counter service by day, reservations by night. This out-of-the-box groundbreaker is the brainchild of owner Eric Lilavois and chef Dave Cruz, both alums of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. The idea is to accommodate a casual crowd during the day, while making it a potential date-night spot after darkness falls. Expect globally inspired salads, soups, bowls, hearty plates, and a variety of shared plates. Read the full story of this modern California eatery in our blog post here. Make a reservation at Little Gem.

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