Best Thing We Ate

Boxing Room's New Menu, First Cocktail Program

By Virginia Miller  |  February 10, 2015
Credit: Virginia Miller

Since it opened, the one thing missing from New Orleans-in-SF restaurant Boxing Room has been cocktails and spirits. While their craft beer and thoughtful wine (and wine on tap) lists have always been strong, it doesn't quite feel like Nola until there is also Brandy Milk Punch and Ramos Gin Fizzes with your jambalaya and fried alligator. As of Friday, you can, thanks to a freshly acquired, full liquor license and cocktails from Jonny Raglin (Absinthe Group’s Director of Bar Operations and Comstock Saloon partner) and bar manager Bobby Baker (GM at Local Edition). And there's a new look besides. With a build-out around the bar and a decor update, including vintage live music ads and daiquiri signage, the space glows, warmer and more inviting than it has ever been. Chef Justin Simoneaux (formerly one of our Zagat 30 Under 30) also added new dishes to the revamped menu, while jazz brunch continues on Sundays.

Here are eight classic New Orleans cocktails ($10-13) and new dishes to try at the rebirthed Boxing Room.

399 Grove St., 415-430-6590

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  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Nothing says New Orleans like one of the great gin cocktails of all time, an 1800s classic created in Nola, the Ramos Gin Fizz (pronounced in its city of origin as RAY-muss rather than the correct Spanish pronunciation of RAH-mos, something anyone who has tried to say the names of French Quarter streets in French vs. Nola's own pronunciation is familiar with). This glory of a drink is tart with lemon, floral with orange flower water, frothy with egg white yet silky with cream, comforting with vanilla and nutmeg — and makes an ideal brunch or daytime cocktail.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Chef Simoneaux created his own baked oyster goodness with menu newcomer Oyster Simoneaux ($12). Plump oysters are decadent in house tasso ham, Parmesan, cream and the "holy trinity" of Cajun and Creole cooking: onions, celery and bell peppers.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Beautiful Julep cups have been engraved with a French fleur-de-lys (ubiquitous in New Orleans) by local Reclamation Etchworks, run by partners Tim Daw and Ethan Terry.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

     One of the most playful new menu additions is “Taste of the Swamp” ($18.50), a delightful journey to New Orleans via some of its classic greats: turtle soup and alligator sauce piquant centered by a mini pile of fried frogs' legs.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    While Hurricanes, another Nola-created cocktail classic, tend to be overly sweet juice slushies, this Hurricane shows off light and dark rums with a balanced sense of passion fruit and other fresh juices. It's thirst-quenching but not at all cloying.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    Like those dreaded slushie machines along Bourbon Street (hardly a reflection of New Orleans' real cocktail scene), this daiquiri is blended. But unlike those icy horrors, it's made with fresh lime, rum and sugar, and is not too sweet, but rather icy cool, bright and delivers a boozy kick.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    In addition to the long popular bar snacks — like fried gator, boiled peanuts and boudin balls — there are new arrivals like this unique take on catfish, a smoked catfish salad ($11), served cold and cured in citrus with fennel and Creole mustard.

  • Credit: Virginia Miller

    There may be no better cocktail exemplifying the spirit of Nola than the city's official cocktail, the Sazerac, created in the 1800s, a beauty of rye whiskey, Peychaud's bitters, sugar and an absinthe rinse. The design around Boxing Room's Sazerac glasses was also etched by Reclamation Etchworks.