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July 2 2012 11:15 AM

South Park spots serves up creative, diverse libations

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Bangkok Gardens
Photo by Kelly Davis

I had this nagging feeling something was missing from CityBeat’s June 20 Drink Issue. The theme was international. What’s that place that does all those international cocktails?

Sorry, Vagabond, but my brain just wasn’t moving fast enough. By the time I remembered it was you, it was June 23.

The South Park restaurant (2310 30th St.) has a global-traveler theme. The entrées range from bouillabaisse to Moroccan lamb shank, and the cocktail menu stretches from Thailand (in the form of a specialty cocktail called Bangkok Gardens) to a Dutch fave called Kopstoot—a shot of Bols Genever (a sweet gin with a hint of juniper) chased by a Scrimshaw pilsner.

We grabbed two seats at the bar and my husband asked our lovely bartender, April, to make us her three favorite drinks. First up was the Bangkok Gardens. Made with Thai-chili-infused vodka, rosemary water, bitters and a curry-and-lemon syrup and garnished with a dried Thai chili and a halved kumquat,
it was fantastic. It was bright and mildly sweet with the perfect amount of heat. If you’re a fan of Thai food, this is your new favorite drink.

Next up, the Pisco Sour. In the Drink Issue, Ryan Bradford lamented the lack of bars in town that make a decent version of the Peruvian cocktail. Add Vagabond to that short list. April suggested the Vinas de Oro Mosto Verde Pisco, to which she added lime juice, simple syrup, egg white and Angostura bitters and garnished the frothed top with nutmeg. I wished it were a little sweeter; my husband, on the other hand, liked the tartness.

He wasn’t as crazy about the Brut Buddha (Hangar 1 Buddha’s Hand citron vodka, Aperol, agave nectar, bitters, raspberries and Brut, garnished with a cucumber slice), which he found to be a little sweet. But I enjoyed this one. Served in a martini glass, it looked and tasted lovely, with just a hint of bitterness from the Aperol. It was the Buddha’s Hand vodka (Buddha’s Hand is a fragrant Asian fruit) that made the drink sing. A good cocktail, after all, should highlight its most interesting ingredients, and that’s something Vagabond does well.


Email kellyd@sdcitybeat.com or follow her on Twitter at @citybeatkelly.

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