Took a field trip to Alameda last weekend as its one of our favorite spots to ride around (i.e. nice and flat). Unfortunately the ferry between our side and the east bay isn't running this month (what the?) so we grudgingly grabbed a muffin and threw the bikes on BART. No small feat when your bike's from 1968 and made almost entirely of steel. Once out of the tube, the real adventure began, starting with the favorite white-knuckle ride through the Posey tube. Yes, we stay on the walkway (this is a field trip not a death wish), which in itself is incredibly nerve wracking since its loud as all hell and you've got about 6 inches on either side of you, making me constantly fearful that I'll sideswipe the wall and then start riccocheting back and forth between it and the railing all the while propelling forward at an increasingly rapid pace while pieces of my bike fly off in all directions. Franklin doesn't seem to mind it though.
Our destination was the Hangar 1 Distillery where they make all kinds of fancy vodkas, liquers and (now legally) absinthe. Apparently their first batch sold out in 6 hours. Lushes.
The absinthe maker. I love that it looks like it came straight from Willy Wonka's factory.
Whiskey aging. Seems like they make a little of everything (except beer) and the nice tour guide said they're constantly experimenting with recipes. What an awesome job. Speaking of, anyone know how to make a still?
All the bottling's done on these two neat old machines and a lot of it is actually done by hand, as they sometimes do letterpress labels and whatnot. Pretty cool to see a company that's still so hands on and excited about what they do. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a vodka lover (maybe that's not unfortunate given my love for the many other varieties of swill) so the tastings were not so much up my alley. Quite a variety of flavors, some pretty exotic (Buddha's Hand? Mandarin Blossom?) and some rasberry and pear liquers that I liked very much. They also had the most wonderful dessert wine ever (did I just write that?) called Mt. Menao that they made a small batch of. Not cheap for what amounts to a half bottle but we got one anyway. As Agent Cooper says "Everyday, give yourself a present."
Said goodbye to Hangar 1 (and its sweet view) and took a meandering route through the naval base towards Webster St and snacks.
The old home (?) of Pan Am's China Clipper. On its first flight out it was supposed to fly over the bay bridge (which was just being built at the time), but shortly after take-off the pilot realized they wouldn't be able to gain the altitude to clear it, so they flew underneath instead. Hairy mary for sure. Also interestingly (to me at least) is that the navigator on its first flight in 1935 from San Francisco to Manila, which was to be its common route, went on to work with Amelia Earheart and was in her plane when it disappeared over the Pacific ocean in 1937. The China Clipper lasted a bit longer, until its fatal crash in 1945 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where we may or may not go next month.
Want to visit? The Hangar 1 Distillery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 7 and Sundays 12 to 6 for tastings ($10 for about 12 sips and you can share a tasting if you're with someone who doesn't slobber all over the glass. Keep in mind these are pretty much just sips of booze, not shots. If you can, splurge and get one apiece). You can look into the distilling room from the tasting area, but tours are only given on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. They're located at 2601 Monarch St in Alameda which is over in the old naval area where they have the flea market (next one's February 3rd!) and not too far from where the ferry docks when it decides to run.