Drink here: Zodiacs

Petaluma, CA


It was a warm mid-March evening (sorry to everyone everywhere else in the U.S. with your shitty winter weather. Also: hahahahaha) when myself and my little group of merrymakers waited outside downtown Petaluma’s newest live music venue, bar, brewery, and drunchies establishment, Zodiacs. “Is that a juice bar?” Someone exclaimed. The friendly bouncer confirmed we were indeed about to enter the venue for the already-bumpin’ Galactic After Party through a warmly-lit cafe serving up smoothies, espresso drinks, nut milks, and fresh-pressed juices. Now that is some hippie shit.


Let’s get healthy before we destroy ourselves.


View from above. Thank you for the tour!

The lovely proprietress greeted your humble Enthusiast/favorite sham-journalist with much-appreciated drink tickets and an invite to tour the enormous space. I was like, fuck yes. By the way, I think I’m in love with you. Oh sorry, was that too forward? No no no, I totally get it. Yeah no worries I’ll back off. Just kidding, I’m not a creep. But seriously, I was like, why the hell did I spend my first four years as a boozey blogger refusing to review shit?! This is the best!

(Sidenote: I know, I know—it’s been a while since your humble lady enthusiast has published anything on this blog. I’m sure you’ve all forgotten about me. After several hazy and hungover years of getting faded for the sake of this blog—not to mention half a lifetime of getting faded for the sake of getting faded—I was just starting to get like, really fucking tired. Of drinking. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get all preachy or judgey on y’all lovely drunkards out there—I didn’t exactly like, quit boozing or anything. But while my fellow Enthusiast has got the desire and professional drink-slinging experience (my experience carrying cocktails on a tray only counts for so much) to talk spirits history and gin varietals (is that a thing?), and the patience to make his own bitters, I do not. And relied on Extreme Drinking to generate my material. And like—no. I’m too old for this shit.)

But back to that warm March night at Zodiacs (although that’s why y’all read my posts, isn’t it? For the digressions!) I spy with my one good eye the Angry Daisy. Spicy margaritas are my crack (when I’m out of actual crack) so I turned in a couple tickets for one. Although I would have happily paid $10 for this pint glass-sized cocktail. Maybe I’ve been in the Bay Area too long but—goddamn $10 is a good price for a well-crafted cocktail that size.

Evil Daisy

Let’s destroy ourselves with the Angry Daisy! Totally worth it! Plus we have that juice bar for later.


Naomi is happy. She can’t say “no” to a spicy margarita, either. Especially if it comes in a fuckin’ pint glass, amirite?


Destroying herself with a habanero. Oh girl. No amount of fresh juice or nut milk can fix this. Well, maybe the nut milk (hurh hurh).


Another Zodiacs cocktail creation: Get the Switch! Featuring bourbon and Braggs apple cider vinegar. Cause I’m a (recovering?) whiskey woman and a current secret hippie who drinks at lot of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. Did not disappoint! 


I got drunk (oops) and took a bunch of photos in the bathroom. This is the only one I am willing to share. PS: I’ve lived in San Francisco AND I work in the industry so you’d think I know better than to wear and Fernet shirt to a bar and expect to escape without doing at least a shot of Fernet. And that might be how I got so drunk (oops).

In conclusion, the cocktails were hella tasty! But that’s not the only reason to visit Zodiacs. They’ve got a robust beer list including many local offerings and plans for their own proprietary small-batch ales and lagers (I saw the tanks on my tour!) in the very near future.

And it feels off-brand (eiw, I can’t believe I said that) admitting this here on the Enthusiast, but Zodiacs would be an enjoyable going-out experience for even a non-drinker (gasp!) They’ve got live music five nights a week, a laser-lit dance floor—and smoke bubbles! where have you been all my life?—as well as really sweet, trippy artwork covering every surface. When we visited, there was even live painting above the stage. I’ve seen a fair amount of live-painting at venues recently and I have to say, this dude was seriously talented.

Plus, Zodiacs’ kitchen serves till 1am, which is rad. Whether you’ve got the drunchies, the munchies, or you’re just regular-hungry who doesn’t benefit from a late-night eating option. Personally, I really like food! We tried the pulled-pork sliders when we were there at the recommendation of like, everyone who had tried them and they were hella tasty. And I think I remember the professional chef we brought along saying he liked them, too. Everything gets a little fuzzy toward the end…


Soon-to-be devoured sliders.


Live music five nights a week.


Could this painting get any trippier?



   More art.


This piano once belonged to the Grateful Dead.

We drank, we ate, we danced. We gawked at a shitload of rad artwork. By the end of the night all talk turned to when we could return to Petaluma and party again at Zodiacs. And the conversation continued the next morning over coffee, so you know that shit wasn’t just drunktalk!


Zodiacs. Petaluma, CA. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-2am. Happy hour Wednesday-Friday and Sunday, 2pm-6pm. Live music 5 days a week. Find them on Facebook.



Test-run: Arctic Chill muddler


Arctic Chill recently sent us their muddler to try out. A small company born by a couple bros (actual brothers), Arctic Chill has set out to manufacture the highest quality bar ware and kitchen products. Read more »


Cest la vie, Summer


Summer is drawing to a close, so I figured now’d be a good time to share my summer menu at Grand Cafe. I wanted to use familiar flavors for the warmer months, with lots of fresh fruit and house-made syrups and cordials. You can find all of the drinks on our recipe page here, but a few of my favorites are as follows.

Bluegrass Sunshine is a variation on the classic whiskey sour using vanilla syrup and sunshine bitters to spice things up a bit. I love how these flavors play together.
Read more »


Gin tasting with Kevin Diedrich



One of the perks of working for a large hospitality company is having access to talent across the network. In this case, Kevin Diedrich, the bar manager and lauded bartender of Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen. If you’ve met him, you know that Kevin is the nicest guy in the world and an expert in the field, so I was very excited when I found out he was going to be doing a gin tasting at Grand Cafe. Here is what I learned.
Read more »


An Enthusiasts guide to DIY bitters: vol. 1, part 2


Three weeks passed and it’s time for step three! First I strained the liquid out through cheesecloth. This initial infusion is very strong on the tongue. There are strong overtones of cardamom with definite notes of clove and citrus (ed. note: the Imbibe recipe calls for coriander, but the author was not 100% sober when he put everything together. Some mistakes may have been made). There is also a big punch of bitter: sour/tart from the dandelion root and deep from the gentian. The wormwood appears to provide a smoothness, like tea. The mint is subtle, at best, although there is a slight menthol effect present. Ginger appears to have been omitted (see note above). Read more »


An Enthusiasts guide to DIY bitters: vol. 1, part 1


I’ve thought about making bitters for a while now. So I was quite excited when the Jan/Feb issue of Imbibe magazine (thanks, Amy & Phil!) included a recipe for grapefruit bitters. I’d already been toying with gentian flavors in the form of Salers Gentaine aperitif and really want to understand the potential of bittering agents better. What better a way than to directly work with them myself?

The fundamentals of bitters are essentially the same. Combine bitter things with herbs, spices and other flavorful components in high-proof alcohol and let them sit for a period of time. These bitter things tend to be the roots of flowers, with the gentian root being perhaps the most recognizable (think of the bitterness in Campari, Angostura and Fernet). Salers is a bottling of just that flavor cut with a little sugar, and will give you the full depth of flavor the root has to offer. The recipe (below) also calls for dandelion root, wormwood and whole coriander—among other things, so I headed over to Rainbow Grocery, the SF goldmine for random stuff in jars, to stock up. Read more »


Really old booze. Or: What you find when you help your 94-year-old grandmother empty her liquor cabinet


My family has a bit of a morbid streak and likes to way over-prepare for people’s imminent deaths. My grandmother, for instance, is 94 years old and as fabulous as ever. She actually performed better than I did on a stress test at the cardiologist. Sorry, pride, you lose this round. Anyway, ever since she became the last living of six children a couple years ago, she’s been cleaning out her house so that we’ll have less stuff to throw away when she dies. Giving away jewelry, tossing old Christmas decorations—things of that sort. This last time my sister and I went home, we had the lovely task of cracking open the liquor cabinet.

Now this liquor cabinet probably hadn’t been opened since before I was born. Her husband used to be an alcoholic (a real one, not the enthusiast type), but gave it up some time in the late 70s if my calculations are correct. And my grandma, while she loves herself a glass of White Zinfandel, isn’t really the type to chug hard liquor on her own. There was a lot of dust and weird smells in that cabinet and, sadly, every single bottle—except for the pomegranate grenadine—was open. We took them all out, sniffed them, lost some brain cells and some lung function, and poured them down the drain. If you ever get the chance to take a whiff of 50-year-old rum that’s been chilling in a cabinet unsealed and half-drunk, OMG DON’T DO IT. Seriously. Read more »


Drinking at the office: How I added to our arsenal of imbibing


Zacapa tasting group shot

Cheers to drinking at work!

After a long hard day at work it’s nice to hit the bar for happy hour. But it’s even nicer, and more relaxing, to have the bar come to you!

That is the concept behind a new, 2013 initiative that I launched at my work, the San Francisco office of branding and design firm Landor. I call it Sip ‘n Learn™—and I think the name says it all.

It’s great to drop by the local bar with some co-workers and it’s nice to have occasional internal happy hours, but I wanted to offer a little more: a high-quality cocktail experience presented in a salon format. Read more »


New beginnings


My interest in cocktails blossomed my senior year in college. Flush with a little money from a summer job, I dropped probably $600-$700 outfitting my dorm room closet with spirits, modifiers, barware, and glassware of various kinds. And we lived it up for the first couple months of school, while supplies lasted. It was then that I learned how to mix a Manhattan, a proper Martini, and White and Black Russians. I also started to appreciate the nuances of liquor that came from glass bottles with corks vs. plastic ones with removable pour regulators.


Prior to that my drinking included the usual high school and college nonsense. I acquired a taste for Old Crow and would go on about how each batch was different and it really varied from bottle to bottle. I loved (and still do) Pabst Blue Ribbon, the hipster champion that actually packs a healthy 5% ABV punch. And I’d occasionally experience cocktails in the company of my ex-bartender parents who appreciated the classics. But it was that dorm closet bar that gave me the first twinges of pride about drink. That made me invest in quality and making sure “it was done right.” And from there a love grew. Read more »


Hide that hangover!

Josey & Loosey Goosey (& L.G.’s sister)

Ladies, while science (pffft…whatever, science) may say we can’t drink as much as men—apparently that sexy extra fat we carry makes our bodies metabolize booze at about half their rate—we as females have a distinct advantage in hiding our hangovers from the world’s judgiest-judgers: makeup.

Here, from guest Enthusiast Loosey Goosey (ed. note: NOT HER REAL NAME!!!) and your very own Josey (ed. note: me) are some tips to help you take advantage of the cosmetic tools at your disposal.

(Ed. note: Oh and men can totally wear makeup, too if they want. Something about gender!!! I’m being PC! I’m being PC!!!!)

hungover josey

Look how good I am at hiding my wretched hangovers! #notconvincing #reno

1. First thing’s first: Drink lots of water. Also coconut water. Trust us, your skin will be soooooo much less hideous when it’s (semi) rehydrated. Cause hungover you look like, 30 years older than you actually are (ed. note: no offense). Read more »

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