Downtown San Francisco celebrity chef restaurant, Estiatorio Ornos, wants you to feel like an emperor while sipping on its new lineup of cocktails inspired by one of history’s most powerful rulers and famed drinkers of the day—Alexander the Great.
The suite of eight cocktails created by Michael Mina’s restaurant’s lead bartender, Anthony Attanasio, takes imbibers on a journey through some of the warrior’s biggest battles—that span the Middle East and Mediterranean in times before Christ.
The drinks pay homage not only to the lands that Alexander conquered, as well as Greek and Egyptian heritages of the restaurant’s chefs, but also to the ancient king’s ruling style. While the old-school warlord unapologetically spread Greek culture throughout the Middle East, he also absorbed many local customs and traditions, leading to unique blends of Greek and Persian culture. Such blends and hybrids are reflected in Estiatorio Ornos’ Alexander the Great cocktails.
For instance, The Prophecy—made with Calvados apple brandy, garnished with house-made peach gummies and inspired by Alexander’s conquest in Thrace (now known as at the southeastern Balkans—encompassing much of Bulgaria and its borders with Turkey and Greece)—looks to the region’s stone and orchard fruits for its flavoring, while letting the cocktail’s Grey Goose vodka linger in the background to allow “all the other flavors in the cocktail to shine,” Attanasio said.
But one cocktail that’s sure to stand out on the menu is The Sovereign King, which mixes in a clarified milk punch, or “one of the oldest cocktails known to man,” Attanasio said. According to historian David Wondrich, the first written recipe for milk punch dates back to 1711 and was favored by the high and mighty of the day, including Benjamin Franklin.
“It’s pretty old school. It’s like what a lot of founding fathers [used to] drink,” Attanasio said.
Another cocktail on the menu that’s sure to make a royal entrance: The Tears of Darius. It’s topped with foamy bubbles made from frothed-up blood orange water.
The Mole of Alexander, based on the warrior king’s Siege of Tyre, is also sure to make an impression with its print of a map of the siege and the pathway, or “mole,” Alexander built to conquer the locale on wafer paper.
Don’t worry though; the ink and the wafer are edible. And if you work up a king-size appetite, Estiatorio Ornos has a happy hour menu including a tuna and falafel pita pocket, hummuses, Kaluga caviar, popcorn halloumi with thyme honey and aleppo, a Greek-style burger and “Athenian” fries that complement all of the Mediterranean-inspired cocktail flavors.
In the end, Attanasio hopes that these battle-inspired drinks will appeal to the discerning palates of San Francisco’s cocktail connoisseurs and live up to the city’s reputation as one of the “most iconic cities in the world for cocktails.”
To that, we hope Alexander would raise a glass.
🕔 Happy Hour: 4-5:30 p.m. daily
📍252 California St.
☎️ (415) 417-3969
Christina Campodonico can be reached at [email protected]