Photo by John Dole
Pacific Jewel cocktail
Has there ever been a restaurant or bar in your neighborhood you've passed a bazillion times, but never went in? Whatever the reason—maybe it has an odd location, or odd-looking menu items—you just neglected to pay a visit? Well, for me, S&M Sausage and Meat was one of those places. I live on the cusp of the University Heights/Normal Heights/North Park areas. S&M is located on 4130 Park Boulevard in University Heights, it's been in business for almost two years, and I've never been in, until now. In an effort to attract not just carnivores, but omnivores and boozers too, it has added a few new menu items, so I stopped by to take a gander.
From the owner of Slater's 50/50, the burger-tastic place in Liberty Station that's now spread to all over SoCal, S&M is owner Scott Slater's more ambitious, bacon-loving location. I guess I never thought to stop in for a drink, because every time I looked it up online, I saw gluttonous pieces of sausage and bacon, instead of craft cocktails. Surprisingly, it has an impressive cocktail menu, with both classics and originals. They're still tweaking both food and cocktail menus, but what I got to taste feels like they're stepping in the direction of approachability.
The three newbies I got to taste were; the Aristocrat, the Doc Martin and Matt's Morning Medicine. The Aristocrat is a whiskey cocktail, with claret syrup, lemon juice and St. Germain—if you're a whiskey person who isn't big on sweet drinks, this one's for you. The Doc Martin is definitely an after-dinner type of drink. Made with créme de cacao, port, bourbon and chocolate bitters, it reminds me of those IPA cocktails hipsters are trying to make happen. Matt's Morning Medicine is a concoction of Henebery whisky, Fernet Branca, cherry syrup, lemon juice and a ginger liqueur and tastes, as Bartender Caleb Bautista describes it, "herbaceous." It's garnished with lemon rind and a pickled cherry, giving it a swanky Mad Men look.
Its most popular cocktail is the Pacific Jewel; it balances that sweet and salty flavor really well, with gin, chareau, lime, cucumber, cilantro, smoked salt and cracked pepper. Another classic that's been on the menu for a while but with an egg white-twist is the Whiskey Sour. It features bourbon, sugar, fresh lemon and angostura bitters, and was definitely my favorite drink of the night.
All cocktails are $11, and $2 off during happy hour, which is Monday through Friday from 3 to 6pm. Oh, and every drink comes with free bacon. While the idea of a free slice of bacon with your drink sounds nice, it also feels kinda cheap. I guess it's compensation for not having food at happy hour, and I'll take whatever free food comes my way, but how am I supposed to enjoy copious amounts of alcohol with nothing to soak it up with?
Guess we'll just have to wait and see how S&M's new menu pans out for drinkers of all types.