Josey Packard

This is the second in an ongoing series of bartender features on the Underhill-Lounge.

Previously, I had experimented by asking the bartender at Montgomery Place to make me a Bombay Cocktail No. 2, but this just seemed to result in a grumpy bartender.

To make it less of a shock, I thought I would contact some local bartenders and give them a choice of the dozen or so Savoy Cocktails that might be coming up in the book.

Surprisingly, some actually were game.

NOTE: Since writing this up, Josey has moved back to the East Coast. When I last talked to her, she was looking for a bartending gig in the Boston area. I will post an update when I know more. I still, however, recommend putting Alembic on your short list of bars to visit in the San Francisco Bay Area.

After about a month of travel, sickness, and scheduling conflicts, I finally was able to get together with Josey Packard at The Alembic Bar to make some Savoy Cocktails. While we were at it, I asked her a couple questions.

Josey’s BIO: I’m a frequent victim of agape: widely varying passions have led me to several different occupations. A vocalist by training, day jobs for me have included that of seamstress, auto mechanic, office manager, carpenter, editor, audio producer, and flooring installer. A keen interest in cocktail history led me to take up work behind the bar, and it is there where I find myself able to marry both vocation and avocation; I’m proud to call myself a bartender. I developed the signature cocktail for the Boston Athenaeum’s 200th anniversary celebration, and have finalized the recipe for two original cocktails, the Wolfhound and the Northern Spy.

Diki-Diki Cocktail

1/6 Grape Fruit Juice.
1/6 Swedish Punch. (Carlshamm’s Flaggpunsch)
2/3 Calvados. (Le Merton Vieux Calvados)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

For comparison, Josey wanted to try this with both white grapefruit and ruby red grapefruit juice.

I think Josey’s first comment was, “Wow, that’s an adult cocktail!” and her second was, “I could drink the hell out of this!” Given the relatively small amount of Grapefruit juice, we were both a bit surprised that the we preferred the touch of sweetness and additional fruitiness that the Ruby Red Grapefruit brought to the cocktail. It was a subtle difference; but, enough to be noticeable. In any case, I agree with Josey about this cocktail. Definitely one of the highlights so far of the letter “D.”

From Google, as far as I can tell, “Diki-Diki” is a Filipino adjective used to convey “very small.” There is also a small African Antelope called a “Dik-Dik.”

Robert Vermeire, in his book, “Cocktails: How to Mix Them,” notes the following regarding this cocktail:

Diki-Diki is the chief monarch of the Island Ubian (Southern Philipines), who is now 37 years old, weighs 23 lb., and his height is 32 in. The author introduced this cocktail at the Embassy Club in London, February 1922.

Q: What ingredient have you been experimenting mixing with lately?

A: I’ve been experimenting with the Luxardo and Maraska Maraschino liqueurs. I was really surprised to discover how differently they work in cocktails and which gins work best with either one.

We had wanted to try the Desert Healer cocktail as well; but discovered the bar was out of ginger beer.

Devonia Cocktail
(6 People)

Pour into the shaker 4 glasses of Sparkling Cider (2 oz Two Rivers Gravenstein Apple Hard Cider) and 2 glasses of Gin (1 oz Gin.) Add some ice and a few drops of Orange Bitters. Shake lightly and serve.

The Devonia was particularly appealing as The Alembic Bar currently has a very nice Hard Cider from Two Rivers on tap. We first tried it with Plymouth Gin; but it was maybe a bit too adult. The Two Rivers Gravenstein cider is a very dry cider, almost like one of the French champagne-style ciders in character. Interesting, however, to compare the cider on its own with the cider, gin, orange bitters mix. Mixing the cider with the gin, really brought out the earthy, apple peel flavors of the cider, especially in the smell.

For a second try, Josey had the idea to try the Devonia with Anchor Distilling’s new Genevieve Genever-style gin. Even though we had no illusions that this cocktail is really a Devonia, we both preferred it. The complexity of the Genevieve worked well with the cider. And, I might add, the Genevieve is a really interesting taste all on its own. The young whisk(e)y character of the distillate comes across loud and clear in the smell, taste, and body of this new gin. Personally, I can’t wait to get a bottle myself and start experimenting with it.


Q: As Alembic is a restaurant and bar, have you found any particularly good food and cocktail pairings?

A: The obvious one is a Martini with our Catfish Cakes. The chef uses Gin in his Catfish cakes and Tonic in his tartar sauce. With a wet martini, it is a great combination. Another pairing that works very well is the Opera Cocktail with the Oxtails.

Q: Do you have an original cocktail or an old favorite you feel represents you and your style of mixing?

Northern Spy
2 oz. Applejack
1 oz. fresh apple cider (flash-pasteurized ok but no preservatives!)
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/4-1/2 oz. apricot brandy (amount depending on brand/sweetness)
Rim glass with cinnamon-sugar. Shake and strain into rimmed glass. Add a cranberry as garnish.
Note: this cocktail responds well to “royale” treatment, a.k.a. topping with champagne.

I am impossibly biased towards both The Alembic Bar and Josey Packard, so it is tough for me to even pretend impartiality here. Alembic is a great bar and Josey is a wonderfully engaged and engaging bartender.

If you’re in San Francisco and into cocktails, Alembic should be one of the two or three “musts” that goes on your “to do” list. You’ll find Josey there, usually earlier in the evening or during the day, 5 days a week.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.