Fine-dining chefs often send out an amuse-bouche (literally, mouth amuser in French) before the meal proper begins, a practice that has become standard with the rise of Nouvelle Cuisine. Woo's background includes stints at San Francisco's distinguished French contemporary institution La Folie as well as Stars, an influential early voice in the California cuisine style, and so he's adopted the tradition – but with a twist. "That's kind of how we attack our cocktails," he says. Similarly to the two or three intensely flavorful bites of the amuse-bouche, Woo suggests warming up your palate with a drink like his Davenport Martini, one that's "not terribly strong but not too subtle, that has components of saltiness and acidity." Woo bumps up the dirty martini's salinity and savor with blue cheese-filled olives on a rosemary skewer.
Natural Selection's Davenport Martini
• 2 oz rosemary-infused Tanqueray gin
• 1/4 oz dry vermouth
• 1 tablespoon olive juice
Shake vigorously with ice. Serve in a chilled martini glass, garnished with three blue cheese-filled green olives on a rosemary skewer. To make the rosemary-infused gin, tie 3 sprigs of rosemary with kitchen twine and put into a bottle of Tanqueray for 36-48 hours, then remove.