Named after an Italian word used to accentuate positive comments, according to the restaurant, Perbacco puts an exclamation point on everything it serves. Carla Gassner, a server and bartender, gives us the inside secrets of Perbacco’s cocktail menu and how to find the best drink to pair with your meal. She learned her way around a pint when she was first exposed to the drinking world of London.
BAR info: 230 California St. • (415) 955-0663 • www.perbaccosf.com
Why did you become a bartender? I started working in restaurants when I was 15, and I’ve just been always curious to learn more. I got a degree in literature and I tried teaching for a while. In the end, I found this more to my liking.
Is there an author you would like to serve a drink to? It would definitely be Ernest Hemingway. He has a drink named after him called the Hemingway Daiquiri that was invented in Cuba, but I wouldn’t make that for him. I would simply pour red wine and have a conversation with him.
Are there any books that inspire you to make drinks? A lot of my favorite authors — like Joyce, Hemingway and Eliot — talk about loving life and having a good time. They permeated my reality and consciousness to becoming a bartender.
Do you like being in this industry? I love it. I love the interaction I have with people. I love the exposure to new things like new food, wine and drinks.
Where are you from and how did you transition to San Francisco? I grew up in Sebastopol ... and while I went to USF, I lived in London and Spain for a while and just got really adapted to living in a city-like environment.
What’s the drinking scene like in London? I drank a lot when I was there. I was 19 and it was my first exposure to a lot of fine dining, alcohol and going out drinking with your friends. It’s so romantic in London. They have beautiful pubs with dark lighting and mahogany. The first drink I had in London was called the Snake Bite, containing lager, cider and cassis.
What’s the atmosphere like in Perbacco? I would say that it could really change. We’ll get happy hour where it’s crazy, noisy and vibrant. Then on the weekends, we’ll get a lot of people who are coming here to have a nice dinner.
What recommendations would you give to pair drinks with food here? We created our drink menu so it’s paired with any dish. We have drinks that are made before your main entrée to get your taste buds going. Most of our drinks go best with appetizers.
What is your favorite drink and why? My favorite drink is the Corpse Reviver. It has gin, Lillet, Cointreau, lemon juice and a small amount of absinthe. It’s a perfectly balanced cocktail that’s satisfying.
2 oz. of house-made chamomile vodka
1 oz. Pimm’s
½ oz. lemon juice
Fever-Tree bitter lemon soda
Fresh muddled cucumber
Combine ingredients. Top with bitter lemon soda from Fever Tree. Garnish with cucumber and lemon, putting a couple of pieces in the drink.