Twitter love: Drinking Lessons with Douglas Williams

24 hours in the Bay Area. The goal? Good eats. Great drinks. Meet my favorite Twitter peeps. (This is the second installment, part 1 is here).

Truth be known, I’ve been keeping a close eye on @LiquidDouglas. I was intrigued from the moment I heard “Molecular Mixology.” Using laboratory-style techniques, he whips up fabulous cocktails with a nod towards molecular gastronomy. (Using a sous vide, he can custom make a flash infusion before the end of the night.)

A tweet about trouble with humidity revealed his ‘lab’ is on a boat somewhere in the Bay Area. Humidity was affecting his caramel—slated to be turned into dust. Dust? Really? He explained, “As you sip a Reposada tequilla and take a bite of the dust, it gets turned back into a salted caramel, complimenting the vanilla and caramel flavor notes in the tequilla.” Brilliant, no?! The depth and breadth of his knowledge is astounding…and I was determined to meet him.

Our exchange went something like this:

Me: Coming to SF, wanna hook up?
Him: Sure.
Me: Any chance you’d want to lead a cocktail crawl?
Him: Absolutely!
[Insert happy dance!]

@Liquid Douglas, aka Douglas Williams was the perfect host, organizing well-thought out stops for our cocktail crawl. It’s the bartender who MAKES the bar, as is evident by his list:

7:30 PM

bartender: Reza Esmaili
current US bartenders guild for SF


bartender: Brooke Arthur


bartender: Marcovaldo Dionysus
opened legendary Absinthe Brasserie, opened Clock Bar, just recently started working at Rye.


bartender: Eric Castro and company
the new venture from the Bourbon & Branch guys

If people are motivated for another spot like Cantina (bartender: Duggan) or 15 Romolo (bartender: Scott Baird.)

First stop? Conduit with Reza Esmaili. Next stop? Well, uh….that was it! Reza had a captive audience. We sat, he poured. No questions, no decisions to make. We put ourselves in his hands and were not disappointed.

jumped in on the fun and Douglas invited a couple of his friends. Together, the five of us imbibed on a bevy of cocktails, many of them with intriguing wine bases. Douglas noted, “Reza has a great feeling for wine cocktails that pair well with food. You don’t see that much.”

On that cue, we ordered a handful of dishes and let Reza do the rest. While wine pairings are traditional, cocktails—specifically paired with food, was a first for me. Complex cocktails, artfully paired with food…was a revelation! Layers of flavor, intriguing combinations, crafted with house made infusions and extractions. From that point forward, there was a seismic shift in the way I look at cocktails.

Top 10 food experiences in 2009?

Add this one to the list.

If you’re in San Francisco, don’t miss Douglas Williams at Rye. While he was on my side of the bar for this venture, I’m blown away by what this guy is doing with molecular gastronomy and cocktails. Sous vide and liquid nitrogen are just a few of the tools in his arsenal.

Check Douglas’ website ( for his upcoming class at Bourbon & Branch. (They nailed down the class today...scoop should be on the website soon...)