Camper English wrote this excellent article for the SF Chronicle: Resurrecting Spirits, October 18, 2007
Last year, Erik Ellestad, a cocktail aficionado and systems administrator at UCSF, decided to drink his way through a classic recipe book. Though he initially considered “The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book,” he found a cocktail every couple pages that required an obscure or unavailable ingredient, so he chose the easier-seeming “Savoy Cocktail Book” from 1930. On his path to making the book’s 750 drinks, he hit his first snag at the second recipe: The namesake spirit in the absinthe cocktail had been banned in the United States since 1912.
Erik Felten wrote the following article for the Wall Street Journal: Stomping Through the Savoy, HOW’S YOUR DRINK, April 5, 2008
Book-bloggers have taken up everything from sole to the soul. A couple of years ago, blogress Julie Powell famously cooked her way through the book that made Julia Child a star, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Last year, Slate deputy editor David Plotz got to the end of 2 Chronicles, wrapping up his “Blogging the Bible” stroll through the Old Testament. And now one of the essential texts of the cocktail canon is in the middle of getting the same thoroughgoing treatment. Erik Ellestad, a host at the eGullet.org Web site, has been leading a bibulous crew of online collaborators since June 2006 on an Abbey to Zed trek through the 1930 “Savoy Cocktail Book.”
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov 28, 2008
Do-It-Yourself Cocktail Ingredients, Jane Tunks
Erik Ellestad, who is blogging his way through the “The Savoy Cocktail Book” at Underhill Lounge (savoystomp.com), has been toying around with making his own bitters and other concoctions for several years. Among the advantages of making your own ingredients, Ellestad says, is the ability to play around with flavors and spices that he can’t find in off-the-shelf products.
Imbibe Magazine, July/August, 2010
Characters: By the Book, Jenny Adams
A peek into Erik Ellestad’s refrigerator reveals several kinds of obscure, imported colas, soda waters and vermouths. His garage is packed with a managerie of bottles ranging from homemade liqueurs to dusty imported Absinthes. And his kitchen counter, which serves as the set and stage for mixing cocktails, can get so crowded with bottles that sometimes the microwave is completely out of reach. Several nights a week, his wife, Michele, arrives home from work to find the tall, slender 45-year-old hunkered down behind the lens of his camera, snapping a shot of a freshly made drink before handing it off to her for a taste and heading to his computer to blog about the recipe.
Food Network Dish
More Food on the Web, Julia Simon
Shaken, stirred, up, with a twist – no matter how you like your cocktail, there’s a smart one awaiting you at this blog. While some posts start out with a warning (“dangerous cocktail geekery ahead!”), we wager all the sips featured here will go down smooth.
Bringing Back Classic Cocktails, Deirdre Kennedy
The classic cocktail craze is changing the way people drink. Adventurous bartenders have resurrected vintage cocktails that were in vogue before and during the Prohibition years. The resurgence of interest in the refined beverages started in New York, but San Francisco has become a center of expertise among bartenders and drinkers alike.
Nearly finished with his Savoy Project, this recipe for Great Pumpkin Punch, which will grace his holiday table, is an adaptation of a classic recipe. Combining sweet potatoes, citrus and spices with bourbon, Cognac and Batavia Arrack, Ellestad describes this potent sipper as, “pumpkin pie in punch form.”
Erik Ellestad runs a sweet blog called Underhill Lounge that’s about “Cocktails, Food, and Gardening South of the Hill in Bernal Heights.” The cocktail part comes first because Erik is serious about his mixology — so serious, in fact, that he created a special cocktail for the 2010 holiday season called (wait for it…) Bernal Heights Milk Punch.
And according to online friend Hayden Lambert, of the Poetry of Bartending and an alumnus of the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, my guest bartending stint at Dram in Brooklyn (Thanks Tom!) made enough of an impression on the writer from Class Magazine that I got a mention in a Winter 2010 issue, along with the Underhill Lounge and Alembic Bar. Though, amusingly, Hayden noted that he feels fairly certain that the writer is convinced that the Underhill Lounge is an actual bar. Maybe I should work on that!
A solitary light bulb with ‘BAR’ written on it, and the warm glow through the shuttered windows of this fine red-brick building, identifies Dram’s presence on this street near to the eastern end of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Dram has just started up a programme of visiting professionals tending bar, and on our most recent visit we were served by Erik Ellestad of Alembic and Underhill Lounge in San Francisco, mixing Harry Craddock classics in a cut-glass stirring glass.
Keeping its feet on the ground, a quirky and rustic vibe is in evidence too – note the wooden spoon used to lock the restroom door.
SF Weekly Best of 2011
Best Cocktail Menu – 2011: Savoy Cocktail Night at Alembic
“If you like choices at a bar, stop by one of Alembic’s Savoy Cocktail nights, when its usual menu is replaced with copies of Harry Craddock’s 800-plus-recipe tome. The book was written in 1930 by an American bartender who escaped to Europe during Prohibition, and contains recipes for drinks that feel modern again, like the Brandy Alexander, the Corpse Reviver #2, and the Old Pal. Navigating a volume of cocktails that large can be intimidating, but bar manager Daniel Hyatt knows his way around it. He also recruited the efforts of Erik Ellestad, who in 2007 started making every recipe in the book, in order, and is on the verge of finishing.”
7×7 Magazine Best of the City 2011: Eat + Drink
Best Cocktail Project: Underhill Lounge
“Erik Ellestad, a Unix systems administrator at UCSF by day and blogger for Underhill Lounge by night, has been hitting the bottle for years now. His goal? To mix, document, and photograph every one of the 888 cocktails in The Savoy Cocktail Book. At press time, he was up to 765 drinks, with 123 to go. One Sunday a month, Ellestad also hosts The Savoy Cocktail Book night at Alembic bar in the Haight, wherein participants can order any cocktail from the book. (The next one is June 26.) After all this research, what’s Ellestad’s favorite cocktail? The Manhattan, which just goes to show the power of the classics.”
Erik Ellestad Drinks Through Savoy Cocktail Book, Talia Baiocchi
Erik Ellestad is the Julie Powell of the cocktail world. About six years ago he began to take a serious interest in cocktails, started a blog called SavoyStomp, and pulled a Julie & Julia by making all 750 cocktails in The Savoy Cocktail Book. The collection of 1920s and 1930s cocktails was written by by Prohibition-dodging American bartender Harry Craddock, who bartended at London’s Savoy.
Ellestad developed a following and eventually started bartending, at Alembic and now at Heaven’s Dog. In this interview he talks about his decision to drink his way through The Savoy Cocktail Book, how the cocktail world has changed since, the revival of lost ingredients (and which should probably stay lost), and the next generation of influential cocktail bars.
I am…Erik Ellestad, Class Magazine, Feb 2013
Erik Ellestad works in IT in San Francisco but has successfully turned a blog about the Savoy Cocktail Book into a second job as a bartender at Heaven’s Dog in SoMa. He has just completed a five-year project making and documenting all the recipes in the book and has something of the inside track on Harry Craddock.
I started getting into cocktails in the early 1990s. I started initially by buying a lot of books and reading them, then I began contributing to various online forums, and ended up as the host of the eGullet spirits and cocktails forum. At that point although I had read a lot of cocktail recipes I hadn’t made a lot and short of getting a job I thought that making a bunch of recipes from a book would be one way to familiarise myself with the flavour palate.
Erik Ellestad Brings Savoy Cocktail Book Night to Eveleigh, Thirsty in LA, for his website
“On Monday, June 17, Erik Ellestad brings his acclaimed Savoy Cocktail Book Night to Los Angeles for the first time, as part of the Guest Bartender Series at Eveleigh. Savoy Cocktail Book Night usually takes place on the last Sunday of the month at the The Alembic Bar in San Francisco. During these special events, Ellestad and the Alembic’s bar team make any and all cocktails from the Savoy Cocktail Book. Anticipation for Ellestad’s guest night is already running high amongst LA’s cocktail cognoscenti.”
Tonight: Savoy Cocktails at The Eveleigh With SF’s Erik Ellestad, Caroline on Crack for her website
“San Francisco’s Savoy Stomp blogger, Erik Ellestad, is a cocktail geek like no other. For six years he’s chronicled his adventures with 1930s drink tome, The Savoy Cocktail Book, painstakinly re-creating every recipe in there for a loyal audience. And he would probably hate the comparison, but think Erik & Harry (Craddock) versus Julie & Julia. So far he’s done 850 recipes and he says he is STILL not finished. Apparently there are punch cocktails that still need doing!”
Bartender Erik Ellestad Comes to the Eveleigh: A Night of Savoy Cocktails, By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson for the LA Weekly
“As cocktail books go, The Savoy Cocktail Book is neither precise — it contains numerous forgotten ingredients (you mean an Aviation uses Crème de Violette?!) and botched measurements — nor original, as it cobbled together recipes from numerous other sources without any credit whatsoever. Despite the aforementioned facts, the book, which was originally published in 1930, tops the list of “must-have” cocktail compendiums for many bartenders, not only because of its thoroughness but because of its ability to capture an era of refinement, elegance, and above all, cocktail glory. And the tongue-in-cheek advice therein ain’t bad either.
“Tonight, San Francisco bartender Erik Ellestad will bring a little bit of the Savoy to life at the Eveleigh, where he’ll mix Savoy cocktails and, as he says, ‘spread the gospel according to Harry.'”