Martin Cate is a rum and exotic cocktail expert and the owner and creator of Smuggler’s Cove and his new project Whitechapel – both in San Francisco.
Smuggler’s Cove features the largest rum selection in the United States and features cocktails from over three centuries of rum history. The Sunday Times of London has named Smuggler’s Cove one of the 50 Greatest Bars on Earth. In a global industry survey for Drinks International Magazine, Smuggler’s Cove has been named one of the Top 50 Bars in the World for five consecutive years.
Martin is a passionate rum collector and conducts educational seminars and officiates rum & cocktail competitions across the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.
In October 2015, along with partners Alex Smith & John Park, Martin opened Whitechapel in San Francisco to bring the same passion for history and craft to the world of gin.
To venture to Whitechapel is to step underground into a time past, into Victorian era London.
The decor is part steam punk, part olde England. Plush red velvety banquets invite you in to take the weight off your feet, distressed hand crafted tiles like those found in London tube stations, line the walls.
The Gin Palace at the rear is like a Secret London speakeasy or as Martin put it – “it’s as if we bashed through a wall and discovered this special, secret spot where gin lovers unite”. You can reserve a table for dinner here or saddle up to the Palace bar for one of a tome sized book of cocktail options. There is even G&T (gin & tonic) available on tap here!
In the main room, behind the bar is a bell and not any old bell. It was specially commissioned for Whitechapel SF in London by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry (Est:1570). The same craftsmen behind Big Ben, the Liberty bell and the “last call” bells that hang in almost every British pub.
Let’s talk beverages. Whitechapel is a new mecca for gin lovers like myself. The near 400 strong gin heavy cocktail menu is rich, varied and goes deep in history.
I highly recommend you enjoy a gin flight – a taste of four jolly juniper pours: old England, or all American or even locally crafted in SF & the South Bay.
But, a royal BUT – it was the QUEEN MOTHER that warmed the cockles of my gin heart. Bombay sapphire, Dubonnet rouge, King’s ginger liqueur & lemon bitters. A thing of royal beauty that the Queen’s mum would have indeed approved.
Chef David Murphy is behind the food: Anglo-Dutch- reflecting the two most prominent gin regions with a splash of Bangladesh adding spice to many of the dishes. There are so many bangin’ dishes that quite frankly on a recent visit I was tempted to order the entire menu but refrained. I did have and thoroughly enjoyed the Mussels Vindaloo – massive meaty moules in a rich curry sauce with chutney & naan bread on the side. A right royal tasty, spicy treat.
However the dish on the menu that will make grown men and grown women cry is the HAUNCH & FLAGON. It’s a massive tomahawk rib eye on a 15 inch bone that a cave man would be proud of. It is served with Yorkshire pudding (cooked to crispy outside & moist inside perfection) plus spuds (potatoes) two ways & gravy. Wait there’s more, this feast for two comes with a couple tankards of ale to wash it down. It’s a last supper, “eat before Jack the Ripper visits” meal for sure.
The pub landlord (bar owner) himself Martin Cate gave me a one of a kind tour of his magical gin palace. We drank cocktails & history and devoured eats & tales. , Finally a pub I can really call “home” Whitechapel on Polk @Turk in San Francisco. This Brit chap and gin fan found his home town London calling the moment I bounded through the bar doors.
Please do enjoy the “chinwag” with me and “guvnor” Cate and the two recipes: Queen Mother cocktail & the Whitechapel Yorkshire.
See you at the bar:
Sun-Wed: 5pm to 1am
Thu-Sat: 4pm to 2am
Kitchen open until 12am every night
THE QUEEN MOTHER
(created by Alex Smith)
- 1.75 oz Bombay Dry Gin
- .75 oz Dubonnet Rouge
- .5 oz The King’s Ginger
- 3 dashed Lemon-Celery Bitters (equal parts lemon and celery bitters in a dasher bottle)
Stir all ingredients over ice and strain into a footed rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
- 227.5 g – AP Flour
- 10 g – Salt
- 3 ea – Large Eggs
- 1 ea – Large egg White
- 300 ml – Milk
- 65ml – Beef TalloW
- a sprinkle – Maldon Sea Salt
Combine flour and salt with eggs and egg whites, whisk in milk. Let rest overnight (will keep up to two days). Heat talo in a large muffin tin, fill 90% with batter, bake at 450* for 18-22 minutes. (Oven temps may vary so adjust accordingly. Finished product should be the size of a big grapefruit. Brush with tallow and finish with Maldon sea salt. Devour!
For more on Whitechapel,