May 21, 2024

Earlier in the year I spent a few days in downtown San Diego at The US Grant, the historic Starwood hotel with plushly restored interiors and (highlight alert) chummy cocktails crafted by mixologist Jeff Josenhans. Now comes word that he’s taken his mad-scientist skills to a whole other level: the basement. After experimenting with various bottling processes, Josenhans has become the first mixologist to successfully create bottle-conditioned cocktails combining the highly complex (and rarely attempted) champagne method with the brewer’s method. In layman’s terms that means adding yeast to the bottle and allowing the pressure of fermentation to create carbonation before spirits and sugar are mixed in, while the addition of hops adds a spicy spark of brewer’s flare. Because these two processes happen in concert, the result is a smoother spirit with complex flavors and a refined effervescence. Consider it the difference between mass-produced ice cream and artisanal gelato, if you will. Launching as Cocktails Sur Lie (sur lie is a French wine-making term that means having rested on its yeast), you can try a tease or two of the bespoke Mule in a Bottle, made from garden flower-infused vodka, ginger, rock candy sugar, California hops and Champagne yeast in Grant Grill during the current Autumn Mixology Dinner event but to sample the full slate of drinks you’ll have to wait until the official January launch.

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