Wednesday: Book Launch, “Drinking The Devil’s Acre”

You may have stumbled upon his Lower Nob Hill watering hole; you may have had his signature cocktail, The Laughing Buddha; you may have even discussed the history of San Francisco cocktails with him. For those who don’t know, we’re talking about Duggan McDonnell, “the new dean of western cocktail writing,” who, after seven years of operating Cantina on a foundation of farmer’s market produce and historical cocktail wisdom has summed up his knowledge thus far in a tome called “Drinking the Devil’s Acre: A Love Letter from San Francisco and her Cocktails.”

McDonnell joins us in person, Wed, Oct 14th from 5:30-7:30pm, to celebrate the release of the book. We are not only big fans of San Francisco cocktails, but the devil’s acre itself, a nefarious sliver of concrete just a few blocks from here that gave rise to such spirited innovations as the Pisco Punch, Mai Tai, and Sazerac.

“Drinking The Devil’s Acre” is chock-full of colorful episodes, like the privateering explorer Sir Francis Drake raging through the West Indies fueled by his eponymous cocktail, and thoughtful considerations about ingredients, like the impact of the Hetch-Hetchy reservoir on pristine ice and the quandary of drinking the freshest margaritas when limes are at their peak–in December. The book also bumps right up against Wingtip in recounting a party thrown right across the street, where the Transamerica pyramid now stands:

“In 1906, the Montgomery Block stood amid the fire that consumed much of the City. In its doorway stood Duncan Nicol, that barkeep who perfected the Pisco punch, who refused to submit to that day’s tragedy. The military intended to dynamite the block just to quell the blaze, and Nicol, with rifle raised, reportedly cried, ‘You will not blow up this building!’ ¶When the smoke cleared, the Montgomery Block stood as the tallest building west of the Mississippi, lonely now within a vacant skyline. All of San Francisco gathered in its anteroom to celebrate that the City of the Golden Gate had cheated death and, with sherry cobblers, whiskey smashes, cups of Cognac, coupes of Champagne, snorts of port, and barrels of Jamaican rum, their arms aloft clutching Nicol’s famed Pisco punch, the survivors emptied the cellar and then went out to rebuild the City.”

Join us for this exclusive book launch and signing, complete with a selection of historical cocktails from the book. Admission is $40 per person, which includes a signed copy of the hardcover book, classic cocktails, and light appetizers. To reserve your place, please email


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