click to enlarge ONE FOR THE ROAD: Pinapple-Poblano Margaritas and more.

SPICE MONKEY

ONE FOR THE ROAD: Pinapple-Poblano Margaritas and more.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Cocktails-to-Go at Spice Monkey

The downtown Oakland restaurant will offer spirits, wines, local beers, and DIY cocktail kits

By S. Rufus
Tue, May 19, 2020 at 6:16 PM

Downtown Oakland's Spice Monkey Restaurant is now launching an innovative new curbside beverages-to-go program. The Spice Monkey Curbside Bottle Shop went live last week offering spirits, wines, beers (especially local brands), hard kombuchas, ciders, bitters, tonics and freshly made cocktails as well as DIY cocktail kits in three different sizes, containing all the ingredients to craft your own at home.

This new program was developed by Ananda Neil, founder of the Oakland-based Craft Bar Services company, which curates drinks for major festivals and sporting events.

"During my 'pandemic gig'—revamping the beer and wine department for [Spice Monkey's adjacent grocery store] Howden Market—Spice Monkey's owner Kanitha Matoury and I came up with the idea to bottle and offer a to-go menu of cocktails," said Neil, a certified sommelier who is also the beverage director for the Oakland Pride Festival.

"The idea is to order online and then pick up the drinks at our sidewalk-accessible counter—or we will literally walk it curbside for drive-up hand-off," Neil said.

Pickup hours will be from 3–7pm daily. An outdoor parklet flanks the restaurant—located in the historic Howden Building, which was built in 1925 and originally housed a floor-tile manufacturer.

The pre-mixed cocktails include Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and Negronis. Containing cups, ice, citrus garnishes and more, and available in 16-, 32- and 64-ounce versions, the cocktail kits allow users to create Pineapple-Poblano Margaritas, Lavender-Cucumber Collinses and Bourbon-Ginger Sours.

A key kit ingredient is Fresh Victor mixers—a local line of seven different fresh, clean-label, cold-pressed juice-based mixers that contain such elements as organic agave nectar and fresh prickly-pear purée—which launched retail distribution throughout the Bay Area late last month.

Since discovering the brand through its cofounder (and his colleague) H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of San Francisco's iconic Elixir Saloon, Neil has used Fresh Victor mixers "almost exclusively" at large events, he said, hailing their "superb quality and consistency."

A Cambodian immigrant who served nine years with the U.S. Air Force and was later renowned locally as a tea artisan and chef, Matoury has helmed Spice Monkey for 13 years.

These strange days call for innovation and reinvention, so Spice Monkey—whose Comedy Oakland stage has thrice won the "Best Place for Comedy" category in the East Bay Express Readers' Poll—stages online comedy performances via Zoom and streams "socially distant performances" by local musicians.

Performing this Friday from 7-8pm online is Oakland-born singer-songwriter Jennifer Johns with a scaled-down band featuring San Francisco guitarist-composer Ben Misterka.

Johns "is one of Oakland's best artists at the moment. Her entire summer tour was cancelled," Neil said.

To place drink orders, call or text 415-264-4866 or email SpiceMonkeyToGo@gmail.com.


Purity is Trippin'

Hip-hop artist Trippie Redd is partnering with the Oakland Purity Organic beverage company to bring refreshing cold drinks to healthcare workers nationwide.

Announced last week, the campaign finds Redd—who at age 20 has already recorded four top-10 albums—personally delivering donated drinks to medical staff and their support networks in New York City, Los Angeles and his hometown: Canton, Ohio.

"This is my way of giving back to the healthcare workers who are working so hard to help people fight off coronavirus," said Redd, whose November 2019 album A Love Letter To You 4 debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

"I just wanted to show my gratitude and do whatever I can to help out all the people who are trying to keep us safe," Redd said in a press release.

Hospitals including UCLA Medical Center, Canton's Mercy Medical Center and New York's Northwell Health are receiving varieties of drinks from Purity Organic—which sells juice-based beverages as well as organic Sweet Leaf teas and lemonades.

Users who make purchases at Purity's website using the special "DONATE" code will receive discounts and, for each purchase, Purity Organic will donate two cases of drinks to local organizations.

"Thank you to Trippie for this donation to the brave men and women working in our hospitals," said Purity Organic CEO Mary Page Platerink.

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