Drink of the Week: Going Dipsea Diving at Duende

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Lou Bustamante
Dipsea Diver cocktail from Duende

I was sitting at the communal table at Duende, trying to jockey a seat at the small bar, and I couldn't help admiring how cleverly the large warehouse space had been divided up to hold a dining room, bar, music venue, and retail shop. It's one big space that manages to feel cozy and well-appointed. The bar and communal table use striking wooden stools for seating that look like they're made from branches. They're rough and handmade, but they also happen to be remarkably uncomfortable. It's a testament to the quality of the drinks that bar manager Troy Bayless and his team are making that I forgot soon after I sat down.

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The Dipsea Diver ($9, tequila blanco, manzanilla sherry, Benedictine, peach bitters) is an impressively crisp and light drink that is a perfect way to start a meal at Duende. By building on the inherent briny qualities of the sherry and tequila, Bayless creates a cocktail that has just enough sweetness and fruit. "Manzanilla hails from Sanlucar de Barrameda in Cadiz, Spain. Here, next to the Guadalquivir estuary, the cooler temperatures allow for the flor to flourish atop the sherry, creating a more delicate chamomile characteristic than fino," says Bayless about his cocktail. "The loamy clay soil mixed with the gulf air creates more mineral, briny, aromatic tequila. These two completely different liquids complement each other in the glass."

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Lou Bustamante
Duende's Patatas Bravas
The cocktail has enough acidity and light bitterness to pair with the wonderfully crisp Patatas Bravas ($6, fried potatoes dusted with pimento spice mix, spicy aioli). Bayless works with owner and chef Paul Canales and pastry chef Michelle Lee for advice on flavor combinations and techniques to improve the syrups and other ingredients used in at the bar. This collaboration means that many of the cocktails pair wonderfully with the food.

"Sherry is the great equalizer across both bar and kitchen menus at Duende," noted Bayless. "Whether it be, sherry vinegar, Pedro Ximenez, Oloroso or others, sherry can be seen throughout the menu on any given night, and offers front and back of the house a constant opportunity to relate and collaborate."

While the menus, both food and drink, change often, the short list of about eight cocktails usually features one with sherry. With tapas, that's never a bad place to start.

Dipsea Diver

1 oz. Chinaco Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Manzanilla sherry
½ oz. Benedictine
2 Dashes peach bitters (Fee Bros.)

Add all ingredients to a rocks glass filled with large ice cubes. Stir briefly and garnish with a slice of peach or nectarine.

Duende, 468 19th St. (at Telegraph), Oakland, 510-893-0174

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Duende

468 19th St., Oakland, CA

Category: Restaurant

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