.Welcome to The Temperance Zone

Sober-curious imbibing, Marin-style

Summer is just around the corner. And with this heatwave beckoning in hotter days to come, it sure feels like the perfect time to start sipping on some cold and delicious beverages…including the outstanding nonalcoholic options out here in Marin.

Mocktails, also called nonalcoholic beverages by some and a regular ol’ drink by many, are an up-and-coming addition to all the best, most contemporary bars, restaurants and communities. And here in Marin, there are plenty of options for mixing up a routine drinks menu with something a little less boozy and maybe even better.

Being sandwiched between the world-famous Wine Country to the north and San Francisco’s (also world-famous) nightlife just south across the Golden Gate Bridge puts Marin in the middle of a whole lot of alcohol. But in that buffer zone is some alcoholic amnesty, a temperance zone perfect for summer’s short lease.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

They say temperance is a virtue, but few ever define what exactly that virtue is. In the case of San Rafael’s own California Gold bar, temperance means the new nonalcoholic drinks menu entitled Temperance Delights. This boozeless beverage menu may abstain from the indulgence of alcohol, but its offerings are far from moderate in terms of taste.

California Gold’s brand new menu of nonalcoholic drinks is set to blow expectations out of the water with mocktails so complex, balanced and delicious that customers won’t miss the alcoholic bite for a single second this summer. Or any season after.

A sneak peek at the summertime mocktail section of California Gold includes innovative delights that aren’t like anything one has seen or tasted before. The Tokyo Honey, for instance, features toasted rice, yuzu, apples, ginger, cinnamon, citrus, cucumber and soda.

Owner and founder Isaac Shumway explained the mastercraft and methodology behind developing his own nonalcoholic cocktail menu.

“When it comes to spirits and cocktails, we want the ingredients and flavors to be really simplistic, to let each one speak for themselves. But when you don’t have any alcohol, you’re talking about a lack of complexity to deal with,” said Shumway, going on to explain his experience developing one of his more complex new nonalcoholic cocktails.

“[The Tokyo Honey] is an alcohol-less drink made with toasted sushi rice with a little cinnamon, and then I took apples and cinnamon and honey and combined them until completely melted,” explained Shumway. “Then I used yuzu to balance out the flavors, and then combined it with fresh pressed ginger…throughout the whole process, I was really just thinking about the flavors and having fun with it!”

The process behind California Gold’s Tokyo Honey is involved enough to rival, if not beat out, even the most complex alcoholic cocktails on Shumway’s menu. Tokyo Honey requires the rice to soak for 24 hours before being blended and strained through a cheesecloth. The apple component is made by braising the fruit along with Marshall Farms Marin Honey. Add in the fresh-pressed ginger juice and everything else, and it’s easy to see how a nonalcoholic cocktail can be just as complex as those with boozy additions.

“I’ve been thinking about making a [mocktail menu] for years,” Shumway said. “We make virgin versions of our cocktails, but to really put time and thought into the flavors is something I’ve always wanted to include.”

“To not have alcohol in these drinks gives me the free range to go absolutely crazy with the ingredients and flavors and general complexity,” Shumway continued. “Plus all the aromatics and the visuals….”

While many drinks are arguably nonalcoholic cocktails, lemonade included, there’s more to making a nonalcoholic cocktail pop than just combining sugar and fruit.

“Lemonade is just sugar, water and lemons,” said Shumway. “It’s a lot more fun to make real mocktails in a lot of ways, especially because you get to put more things together to find balance without that base of the alcohol to carry the inherent complexity of the drink. While lemonade made with just sugar, lemon and soda is a pretty one-dimensional drink, it can become something entirely different even by adding something as simple as brown sugar, which makes lemonades so much more exciting.”

Another nonalcoholic beverage that will be available for patrons to try out this coming season from California Gold’s new Temperance Delights menu is the Pineapple Express. It will feature pineapple gum, verjus, masala chia, coconut cream, a hop water refresher and a savory sprig of rosemary to top it all off.

“Along the same line of thinking that replaces white sugar with brown sugar for lemonade, I thought that putting pineapple with rosemary was a great contrast of savory herbaceousness meeting citrus,” said Shumway. “Herbal and savory is such a great match, and I love putting herbs and fruit together. Just think of basil and strawberry—that’s an amazing flavor combination! And rosemary and pineapple is similar to that.”

Whatever reason one has for skipping out on the alcohol this summer, whether it be entirely, in moderation or not at all, it’s always a welcome gesture to see a bar featuring a thoughtful and inclusive nonalcoholic menu.

“Maybe you want to socialize or are out with friends or on a date but don’t want to drink or are pregnant…” Shumway speculated. “Whatever the reason, I wanted to be sure there’s something for everyone.”

California Gold’s nonalcoholic menu is set to continue through the seasonal shifts, even after summer. In fact, the Temperance Delights menu will most likely offer genuine hot chocolate in the wintertime (to start).

But in the spirit of the season currently upon us, Shumway not only developed a whole new menu—he also shared his most simple new nonalcoholic drink recipe: The Columbian Cooler. It will also be available on California Gold’s Temperance Delights menu, along with other, more complex recipes like the Tokyo Honey.

The Columbian Cooler

Ingredients:

1 oz clove syrup

1.5 oz lime juice

4 oz cold soda water

Directions:

Shake together the clove syrup and lime juice. Add the soda, and strain the mixture over fresh ice.

To make the clove syrup, heat 16 oz of simple syrup with ½ oz of cloves that have been toasted until fragrant. Let the mixture come to a simmer, and then take it off the heat to cool while leaving the cloves in the syrup to steep.

Strain off as needed, and store for cocktails through summer and every other season.

California Gold is located at 848 B Street in San Rafael. The bar is open every day of the week, though hours vary daily. For more information, visit the California Gold website at californiagoldbar.com.

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