SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
After spending 2 weeks tasting wine and cocktails in Mendoza, Argentina at some of the premier wine vineyards and hotels it was time to settle down for a while and get some work done. For me that simply meant hopping on a bus for 7 hours and traversing the Andes ending up in Santiago de Chile where we rented an AirBnB for the next month. Natalie on the other hand had been called away to do a live presentation on festive punches for Twitter, so she was whisked off to their headquarters in San Francisco for a few days before meeting back up with me in Chile and continuing our international adventure.
One of the great things about being a digital nomad with a focus on alcoholic beverages is having the ability to travel the world and experience different cultures and flavors; Santiago was certainly no exception to this. There are of course plenty of independently operated bars throughout the city, however as we continue our research on the The Re-Institutionalization of Hotel Bars we set out to discover what each city has to offer in this realm. Our research of this sprawling capital showed great promise so we picked our favorites we believed were really bringing their A-game and were on our way. There is only one thing that takes priority over our tireless efforts to bring you the best cocktails from around the world, and that is good food. Luckily in Santiago there were a few world-renowned restaurants.
Our first stop was Boragó, which in 2016 got ranked 36 in the The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants that had delivered so far with other cities so we had to check it out. We were not disappointed; the degustation menu with wine pairing here was the best meal we had during our entire 4 week stay and their ingenuity and use of local ingredients was astounding. Reminiscing on the flavors throughout the evening not uncommon but there are a few favorites of course, like the bean paste covered hot rocks that was a crazy concept to us but once we started to scrape the carefully constructed “moss” off of the rock we found it to be full of wonderful flavor. Then there was the Rosa del Año ice cream sandwich, which inspired me to create a cocktail with the same flower petals that are selected form a rose which only blooms once a year in the northern Atacama Desert. Before the evening was done we were fortunate to meet the owner and chef Rodolfo Guzmán who took us on a tour of his establishment and shared his wonderful story with us.
Next on the agenda was the W Hotel in Las Condes with 3 impressive bars and staff who put an emphasis on guests and visitors having a great time with great drinks. We didn’t make it to all 3 bars but we did however meet up with Andres, one of the management staff who introduced us to the rest of the team at their famous rooftop cocktail bar Red2one where we tasted cocktails from the new menu along with some classic favorites while overlooking the vast metropolis below. Here they use some great local flavors in their cocktails and are introducing some Tiki concoctions that certainly deliver in style and taste. What seemed like a few minutes relaxing by the pool enjoying some delicious tapas while sipping on our cocktails turned out to be a few hours and before we knew it the sun was setting. As the night air crept in we crept out and made our way to the closest hotdog stand for out standard drunken food fix and then it was off to bed.
Before we left town we finally made it to Room 09 speakeasy that many people had told us to visit. So we made our way to the entirely unassuming Tinto Boutique Hotel, asked at the reception for entry and upon flashing our membership card we just happen to have acquired from the bartender at Boragó he showed us the way. Out to the pool area and up a few flights of stairs this speakeasy was the opposite of a basement bar you expect, but instead was located on the roof of the hotel; unless you are in a higher surrounding hotel you would never know (ingenious). The cocktails here were elegant pieces of art that just happen to also taste amazing; a heavy focus on re-mastered classics is what we expected and was delivered in true fashion. They had fun Aperol Spritz style cocktails presented in birdcages and a treasure chest that as Natalie opened it to discover the treasure inside a fog rolled out over the table and as it dissipates we got our first glimpse of the enchanting smoked Negroni.
The staff went above and beyond at Room 09 and as we were on our way out the door our bartender told us to head around the corner to Siete Negronis for a nightcap (not that we needed one). We had heard of this bar previously but had removed it from our list but as it was only around the corner we figured we would try it out. We were lucky to do so as to miss this venue would have been disappointing; it was quite late on a weeknight but this venue was tucked away from the tourist crowd in this part of town and as we entered we were greeted by the manager who gave us a run down of the Negroni variations along with the other options and we settled for a Negroni smoked with lapsang souchong tea and a Dry Martini (Natalie’s go-to). Once the bartender had prepared the cocktails the manager returned and put the finishing touches on each cocktail tableside, which added a little showmanship to the whole thing. The cocktails were balanced and the smoky flavor in the Negroni from the tea was creative and ultimately delicious.
Our next boozy adventure led us to yet another rooftop bar, this time it was a little further out in Vitacura where we came to buy some ingredients from the local specialty grocer and decided while we were out here we might as well stop in. Tramonto Bar & Terrace certainly had a little more of a party vibe with upbeat music and an all round energetic feeling about it; as you are shown to your table you are given a digital menu where you can browse through their full inventory and pick what you want. Once we had made our decisions we handed the iPad back to the wait staff and a few minutes later we were sipping on our drinks looking out at the marvelous Andes Mountain Range. As we finished up our drinks we were feeling peckish and it was time for dinner.
As we travel the world there are a few people we use for guidance #1 on that list of people is Anthony Bourdain, wherever this man goes you know it is going to be great if not for the flavor then simply for the experience so when we arrived in Santiago de Chile the first evening we did some “research”. Usually research consists of hours of combing through online information, sifting the good from the bad but sometimes we simply sit back and watch either No Reservations or Parts Unknown. In the episode we watched he went to a classic Chilean diner called Fuente Alemana so on this evening with a few drinks down we followed in his footsteps.
Fuentes were typically just like the diner we had imagined but this one is so popular with locals that we couldn’t spot another tourist in there so we knew we were in good hands. We waited for about 10 minutes for some seats to open up and our server pleasantly came over and took our order before turning back to the grill and getting to work preparing our meal; this was something we certainly hadn’t seen yet. There were around 50 people crammed into this small diner with 4 women in the middle surrounding the large grill doing absolutely everything but pour beer. There was an awe inspiring synchronicity between these women who I assume had worked side by side for many years and they faultlessly floated around the “kitchen” taking orders, preparing food and serving everyone in their section while also helping each other. Once our meals arrived we dug in and this was certainly a meal you have to try at least once in your life, a great balance of flavors with tender meat that satisfied our every need in that moment. Thank you Anthony for discovering this delight for us!
As we spent 4 weeks in Santiago de Chile these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you are planning a trip and want some more insider tips send us an email and don’t forget to follow our adventures around the world on Instagram.
Founder and creator of the cocktail website and blog Beautiful Booze. Natalie is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, recipe developer, and social media guru. Beautiful Booze the website features over 400 original recipes and photography that celebrate cocktails. From "DIY" bourbon tastings to simple 2-ingredient cocktails Beautiful Booze has something special shaking for everyone. Beautiful Booze has been named one of the top 5 cocktail Instagram accounts to follow and Natalie has a passion for Instagram and social media. Natalie is a regular contributor to Foodable WebTV, Drinkwire, Vinepair, and Delish. Her recipes have been featured on Liquor.com, Huffington Post, Fox News Magazine, Today Show, Latin Kitchen, Cosmopolitan, Pop Sugar, Country Living and many more.