San Francisco is full of exclusive dining and drinking experiences, but even regulars at the Mission's Beretta might not know that the always-happening pizza hotspot, known for its top-notch drinks, has a secret illustrated cocktail menu. Of course, Beretta fans will still be able to find many beloved modern classics on the menu, like the Rattlesnake and Improved Whiskey Cocktail. But mention the "Bird Menu" at the bar and the staff will pull out a leather-bound book with eight secret cocktails, all featuring unconventional ingredients and preparations.
The pages include intricate drawings of the drinks and their avian namesakes. You can order the Strange Weaver, for instance, which is a viscous, stirred "tiki Negroni" that tops a combo of gin, rum, lemon, Campari, and Italian vermouth with an orgeat foam. The Magnificent Hummingbird is a nuanced homage to carnivals, mixing popcorn-infused Pisco, lemon, and candied sour-apple syrup. The Kiskadee is an unusually milky, but pleasantly foamy, drink of tequila, lemon, vanilla almond milk with cinnamon and toasted fennel—a bit like an herbaceous horchata.
The end of the menu offers a selection of long drinks—easy sippers served in a tall glass—as well as a choice of "a shot and a bottle." Of special note on this back page is the Fernet jelly, a playful and refined take on San Francisco’s unofficial spirit, Fernet-Branca. The restaurant cuts a delicate, small square of jelly made from the dark, bitter, minty spirit and serves it in the bottom of a white wine glass, with a small pour of orange and ginger juice.
The drinks are bar manager Dominic Alling’s contribution to Beretta’s cocktail program, which became a mainstay in the craft cocktail circuit in the late aughts. After working at Beretta for the past six years, he began leading the restaurant's bar program lat year. Instead of disorienting regulars with a totally new menu, Alling slightly tweaked the main cocktail menu and introduced his own imaginative style via the bird menu. A former designer, Alling was inspired by bird-watching manuals, and decided to ape their unique look (Beretta has a bird in its logo, which is an added bonus). He ultimately got someone else to illustrate the menu, but went all-out on the cocktail side, combining different classics into zany drinks. "Every cocktail is a little far out, a little bit weird in its own way," says Alling, "but makes sense when you taste it."