Drunks & Drinkers

I admire people who drink without, (apparently,) getting drunk.

As a skinny, lightweight, drinker, the edge of drunk and too-drunk has always been a knife’s edge for me.

Not only that, but there are just some people who approach drinking differently than others.

A lot of people drink as part of a social interaction: go out to the bar, hang out with friends, drink some pints, chat, play darts, etc.

Have several drinks over the course of hours, pacing themselves, without apparent danger of disturbing the rules of the social contract or becoming out of sorts.

On the other hand, some people like to be drunk.

I’m one of those people, the ones who sometimes like to get a little too drunk.

Different people go different ways, when a little too drunk.

Most of the time, I am OK. Pleasant enough, smiling, if quiet, and somewhat mischievous. Fine.

On the other hand, sometimes drinking a little too much, is a descent into the yawning chasm of self-pity, insecurity, and anger which sits at the center of my being.

Again, as a skinny person, it is a knife’s edge, one drink this way or that, between pleasantly too-drunk, and unpleasantly too drunk.

And sometimes, it just seems to be mood, or my perception of the situation in which I find myself.

“Evil Erik,” my wife calls these bad trips. Mostly I just tend to leave, walk away from the situation in which I can clearly, drunkenly, see I am not wanted, or interested in participating with.

Some people believe that drinking, or other drugs, can make you a different person.

For the most part, I disagree.

I believe that whatever aspects you show when altered, are there with you, to a larger or smaller degree, all the time, perhaps sublimated under your restraint and respect for the rules of the social situations in which you are participating.

As a sober participant in social interactions, I can usually perceive that walking away from the people I am talking to, or ignoring their words, (words, so many words,) is something I should not do. I sublimate my fear, anger, and insecurity beneath my respect for the social contract.

However, this is something I had to teach myself to do, and have to sometimes consciously make an effort at. Let’s just say I have my Asberger tendencies.

When I was younger and I was bored with my friends, or felt like they weren’t interested me, I would simply walk away. Go inside the house and read, even if it was in the middle of a game or conversation.

I guess drinking too much turns me back into an 8 year old brat.

Alembic, Savoy Sunday

1/2 shot of Tequila.
1/2 Pint Moonlight Brewing Death & Taxes.

Special event with North Short Distilling.

Busy Savoy Night at the bar, friends in to say, “Hi”.


Could have been worse, but next time I’m going to insist on an Aperitif Wine shot.

Plus, Moonlight Brewing’s Death & Taxes is just about my favorite beer.

Social Media Blues

What? Facebook bought Instagram?

Oh fer craps sake, I got to enjoy Instagram on my Android phone for how long before that ugly, mean, gorilla takes it over? Like, A DAY!

Well, good on the Instagram folks, I hope they enjoy their condos in the tropics.

I guess that is OK, as long as Facebook doesn’t mess with Instagram. I mean, they wouldn’t spend that much just for a few engineers, some tech, and IP, just to kill it, would they? We’re talking about 1 Billion Dollars!

On Monday, the Facebook-owned app updated its terms of service to say companies could pay Instagram to use members’ images in ads without compensating the photographers. Instagram claimed the update was to allow the company to experiment with possible future advertising options, and was not part of any current plan to sell images.

Oh, right, this is Facebook, we’re talking about. Isn’t their motto, “Be as evil as we can be without alienating too many of the suckers who use our services”?

Sigh. And Mrs Flannestad has a good point, “Do you really think you own anything you post on social media?”

Well, why am I posting photos to Instagram anyway? Why not just put them on MY website? Why not put the energy I’m putting into someone else’s site into my own?

So there you go.

A bit of an experiment, but the daily photo posts I’ve been putting on Instagram will now be on savoystomp.com.

Let me know what you think.

Farmers’ Market Conversations

“Why do you carry your dog, does he like it?”

Sometimes the Market guards give me a hard time about having him here, it’s a little better if I carry him.

“You should just get your Doctor to certify that you need a companion animal. It’s easy. I did that with my two. When I asked, he said, ‘Are you kidding? You don’t need a companion animal!’ So I told him I was homicidal! Bang! Two stamps for my dogs!”

Some People You Should Get a Drink From Before They Die

Who To Drink, Virginia Miller for the San Francisco Bay Guardian

Or, as Steven Liles put it, “4 Old Guys, and a Young Gal, You Should Get a Drink From Before They Die.”

I was honored to be included in the list of awesome bartenders! Here are the questions Virginia sent and some expansion on my answers.

Erik Ellestad first landed on the cocktail map in 2006 with his blog, Savoy Stomp — during his off hours as a tech engineer he began working his way through the classic Savoy Cocktail Book, one recipe at a time. This led to monthly gathering and demonstration Savoy Cocktail Book Nights at revered Upper Haight cocktail hotspot the Alembic since 2008, and bartending at chic SoMa Chinese restaurant Heaven’s Dog since its opening in January 2009. He’s an expert on classic recipes; his technically-minded side informs his precision and sense of balance.

I started getting involved in online cocktail related forums, including DrinkBoy and Webtender, in the early 2000s. Joined eGullet.org in 2005. In June of 2006, I started the Savoy Stomp topic in the Spirits and Cocktails forum on eGullet, documenting my efforts to sequentially make every single drink in the Savoy Cocktail Book. For a while in this period, I also served as one of the hosts of that forum. Later in 2006, I started a personal blog with similar content to the Savoy Stomp on eGullet.org. Eventually, keeping both in sync got to be too much of a drag, and I moved the Stomp entirely to my personal blog, savoystomp.com.

1. Please list for me what bars you’re tending at currently and how many years you’ve been bartending.

I work at Heaven’s Dog and help host Alembic Bar’s monthly Savoy Cocktail Book Night. However, I am most well known for the blog project I began in June of 2006 to make and document every cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail Book. The Alembic staff and I have been doing the Savoy Nights together since November of 2008 and I’ve been bartending at Heaven’s Dog since we opened in January of 2009. I also work part time for the University of California, here in San Francisco, as a Unix Systems Administrator.

2. Where are you from and how does that influence your bartending style and taste?

I’m an honest hard working boy from a small town near Madison, Wisconsin. Other than developing my taste for beer, cheese, and Old-Fashioned Cocktails, I don’t think growing up in Wisconsin particularly affected my bartending. However, the 10 years I spent as a line and prep cook while living in Madison, definitely affected both the way I approach cocktails and how I prioritize tasks while bartending.

3. What is your area of expertise or obsession: a spirit, cocktail style, category or region of drink?

Pre-prohibition American beverages, bars, and taverns. Almost all my real favorite cocktails go back to the 19th, early 20th Centuries, or before, and most of the books I most enjoy reading are about that period as well.

4. What do you drink most during off hours?

To be honest, now that I’ve nearly finished the Savoy Cocktail Book Project, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from drinking cocktails. You’ll most often find me drinking beer or wine. I have a special interest in small producers and natural process products.

5. What cocktail are you making lately that is exciting you, whether your own or someone else’s, recipe?

Inevitably, people ask regularly for “bartender’s choice” or “something you have been working on”.

Since you can’t say, “Well, I’ve been working on being a more engaging host,” or, “I’ve been working on my wine service and knowledge,” I try to learn a new or classic cocktail a week, so I have an easy answer to the question.

This week I was inspired by Leopold’s Navy Strength Gin to perfect the Inca Cocktail.

Inca Cocktail

3/4 oz Leopold’s Navy Strength Gin
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Carpano Antica Itailian Vermouth
3/4 oz Manzanilla Sherry
teaspoon Small Hand Foods Orgeat
1 dash Orange Bitters

Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a small cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

6. What are your current favorite off-hours hangouts for food or drink?

There are many awesome cocktail bars in this city, too many to list really. But, since I live in Bernal Heights, the places I get to most often are in my neighborhood: Gialina for pizza, Papalote for Burritos, Front Porch for Soulful American food, and Ichi Sushi, for, well, awesome Sushi. If my wife and I are splurging, we’ll go out to Bar Tartine, Bar Jules, or Commonwealth. Other than the bars I work in, you’ll find me at Rock Bar waiting for a table at Front Porch, Glen Park Station waiting for a table at Gialina, St. Mary’s Pub or Royal Cuckoo on the way to Ichi Sushi, and Wild Side West.

7. What musical style or band/musician keeps you pumped and motivated during those late bartending nights – or most encapsulates your bartending style?

I need to write up a whole post about how obsessed I’ve become about restaurant playlists! But the core of the playlist I’ve come up with for Heaven’s Dog is the box set of Stax/Volt Soul singles from 1959 through 1968. In addition, I like to throw in some Ska, Reggae, African, and Brazilian music.

I wish there was some way, though, that you could say pick from a certain set of songs from 5-7, another from 7-10, and a final one from 10-midnight.

Overheard on MUNI

Overheard on the 22 Filmore MUNI Bus:

“I’m homeless right now. I was living in the occupy encampment, but my friend got stabbed the other day. He’s in the ICU at San Francisco General. I described the person who stabbed him to the police and the occupy people called me a snitch. They said they’d kill me if I came back.”

10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro

10 Mistakes that Could Doom Your Career as an IT Pro
Randy Muller, MCT, MCTS, MCSE, CEH

“10. Lack of Soft/People Skills.

“A mistake many IT Professionals make is to assume that their IT skills will see to their advancement and not their Soft or People skills. We all know of an IT Pro who is fantastic at their job – one who can write code faster than you make a martini. But there are times when it is the Martini maker who is advanced ahead of the programmer. This is due to soft skills. IT Pros who can talk in non-geek speak and who can interact with end users and customers who will be in demand. If you want to move into the C-level rank, you need to get involved in other areas that will emphasis your people skills in addition to your techie skills.”

As a Martini maker and IT Pro, I am not sure how I feel about this comment…

Also, does the converse apply?

Tough Week

Oof, what a tough week. Sick with a sinus infection, Mrs. Flannestad out of town for a conference.

Came home after a night at the bar to find the dog had been sick in his crate while I was away, and remained sick pretty much all night and into the morning.

Felt so bad to leave him the second night and worried that he would be OK.

He was sick again when I got back we were both up again for a second night and into the morning.

Worried that he had gotten some parasite, called the vet, collected a fecal sample to drop off, then realized, out of all the variables in what he had eaten, it was probably the “treat” I had given him before heading to work both nights. They must have gone off since the last time I had given him one.

How bad do I feel for making him sick?

So, no Savoy Cocktails this week.

Barely kept it together, as is, was.

Mrs. Flannestad gets back today, dog and I are both feeling better.

It’s looking like a bright, sunny, California day.