We finally made it into the Eden Lounge, the secret bar located on the second level of Park Tavern. Our admission was sponsored by the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Company, who chose to launch their latest forgotten but not forsaken rickhouse discovery, the 22-year aged Lost Prophet. It’s a follow up to the original Orphan Barrel whiskeys Old Blowhard and Barterhouse, but we think the Lost Prophet might just be their best one yet. There was no way that we would pass on the invitation since we were able to taste another great whiskey and dine at Park Tavern, the popular North Beach restaurant owned by a partnership that includes Anna Weinberg and Chef Jennifer Puccio, who also run The Cavalier and Marlowe.
The Eden Lounge was transformed from a velvet couched parlor into a Private Event room with two long shared shared tables set up for the exclusive tasting.
Appetizers such as Smoked Deviled Eggs (topped with bacon and pickled jalapeño) and Angus Beef Carpaccio Crostini were passed around by the staff. Bowls of crispy brussels sprouts chips were also available but weren’t quite as finger friendly.
They even set up a bar serving up an excellent Sarsaparilla Sazerac (George Dickel Rye, root beer liqueur, absinthe, bitters) and a Cruel Summer (Bulleitt Bourbon, pomegranate liqueur, blackberry maple syrup, lemon juice, bitters), drinks that are available on their normal cocktail list. Both were great cocktails to whet our palate and appetite for the evening to come.
Each place setting included pre-poured tastes of the new Lost Prophet along with Barterhouse, the latter as a comparison sample. Although Orphan Barrel whiskeys are extremely limited in production, Barterhouse is stocked sufficiently to reissue from time to time, whereas the Lost Prophet and Old Blowhard only have single releases — so they are literally gone once stock is sold out.
A closer look at both labels of Orphan Barrels served that night illustrates the effort put into bottling their whiskeys.
Lost Prophet was unearthed from a corner of the historic Stitzel-Weller rick house in Shively, Kentucky. But the 22-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was distilled at what was then the George T. Stagg Distillery. It is made up of 75-78% corn, 15% rye and 7-10% barley, barrelled at 134 proof but bottled at 90 proof. Small allocations were released to San Francisco late last year at a suggested retail price of $120, but we saw that our local places were selling it for as high as $200 with their allocation already sold out.
The tasting was led by Masters of Whiskey Ewan Morgan, who animatedly took us through the process. The flavor was surprisingly “tiki” like, with a coconut essence and a multi-layered fruity and salty finish.
Dinner commenced immediately after the tasting session with a choice of chicken or beef as the entree. The Poulet Vert is available on Park Tavern’s regular menu and is one of their signature dishes. Fine herbs are stuffed under the chicken skin for extra flavoring as it roasts. That evening it was served with red crescent potatoes, roasted carrots, baby leeks and tasty mustard jus.
The Bar Steak is available only on their bar menu, which is reason enough to eat at the bar. The rare steak came with a red wine jus sauce and a generous amount of French fries.
We had a choice of two desserts; the first: Cappuccino Creme Brûlée with chocolate biscotti was satisfyingly great.
The revelation was the second dessert choice of “Birthday Cake.” The frosting-cake combination tends to rotate on a regular basis, and that evening it was a sublime yellow cake with chocolate ganache frosting. The cake inexplicably paired really well with the whiskey.
As a teaser, they also unveiled their next Orphan Barrel Whiskey, the 15-year aged Forged Oak, due to be released this summer. Alas, there was no tasting of it, but it’s something we can look forward to.
Many thanks to Taylor Strategies who invited us to the event and let us use a couple of their professional photographs. it’s another winner from the Orphan Barrel Whiskey program.