10 Must-Do Activities During Oakland Cocktail Week 2018

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Oakland's got spirit: The first-ever Oakland Cocktail Week is coming this September!

The festival will celebrate Oakland's funky cocktail heritage and culture through $10 drinks offered at more than 40 bars and restaurants. Here's how to make the most of the week.


1. Support East Bay craft spirits.

In partnership with Visit Oakland, Oakland Cocktail Week kicks off with a special spotlight on local craft spirits and distillers at Eat Real Festival on September 14th (3pm). Stop by the booth to taste drinks created by your favorite bars and restaurants in the area. Sponsored by Absinthia, Alchemy Bottle Shops, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Nickel Dime Syrups, and Oakland Central.

// This event is free; for more information, go to eastbay.boldtypetickets.com/events.

2. Drink a Mai Tai (or two).

Oakland is the home of the Mai Tai, so it's no surprise that several bars and restaurants have their own unique riffs on the famous cocktail.

Start with the original 1944 Mai Tai at Trader Vic's, then try five more versions at The Cat House, CDP, Forbidden Island, Fort Green, and Hawking Bird. Finally, hop on the bus for ROC the Tiki: Mai Tai Crawl (Friday, Sept. 21) to sample at The Kon-Tiki and more.

// Tickets for the crawl are available at eastbay.boldtypetickets.com.

3. Sip $10 cocktails that tell Oakland's stories.

Once home to author Jack London and now to the Oakland A's, the city of Oakland tells many tales.

Now you can read and taste the stories through cocktails as more than 40 bars and restaurants in Oakland, Alameda and Emeryville capture the magic of The Town in limited edition drinks crafted specially for Oakland Cocktail Week. Try them all at $10 a pop throughout the week.

// For all the cocktail menus, go to oaklandcocktailweek.com/cocktails.

4. Pay tribute to Oakland's OG bars at OMCA.

Throughout Oakland Cocktail Week, special events will tell stories about our bar heritage and community. Town Spirit: A Tribute to Oakland's Enduring Bar Culture, a short documentary directed by Oakland filmmaker Sean Wells, will premiere at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) on Monday, September 17th.

The film explores some of Oakland's most cherished watering holes—including Heinold's, Merchant's, 7th St Blues Clubs, Cafe Van Kleef, and more—as they navigate a rapidly changing landscape. Meet loyal patrons, bartenders, owners, and newcomers alike striving to preserve a sense of community unique to Oakland.

Tickets include entry to the Hennessy-sponsored event including the film screening, an art exhibit inspired by Oakland's bar institutions, live music by Oakland blues legends Caravan of All Stars, entry to an OMCA exhibit, and food and cocktails crafted by Starline Social Club and DREXL.

// For tickets, go to eastbay.boldtypetickets.com.

5. Learn to make botanical bitters.

Learn how to make your own botanical bitters and craft perfect, well-balanced cocktails from experts at Seedlip, Preserved, and August Bitters in order to craft perfect, well-balanced cocktails. You'll sip on your creations and enjoy small bites on the beautiful garden patio at Julie's in Temescal.

// For tickets, go to eastbay.boldtypetickets.com.

6. ​Try a Lo-Fi Spritz paired with Japanese-American bites.

It's all about the perfect pairings at this four-course, Japanese-American-inspired dinner prepared by Hopscotch chef Kyle Itani. The cocktail program comes courtesy of beverage director Jenny Schwarz and Lo-Fi Aperitifs, a Napa-based maker of modern amaro and vermouth. Enjoy a Lo-Fi Spritz featuring the brand's Gentian amaro, plus cocktails pairing Lo-Fi's dry and sweet vermouths with Oakland Spirits Company's Trade Winds brandy.

// For tickets, go to eastbay.boldtypetickets.com/events.

7. ​Meet a mezcalero.

With mezcal growing ever more popular, the future and sustainability of mezcal and the Mexican communities that produce the elusive spirit is uncertain. Ilegal Mezcal and chef Nelson German of AlaMar present a discussion and live conference with mezcaleros in Oaxaca. Tickets include food and Ilegal Mezcal cocktails.

// For tickets, go to eastbay.boldtypetickets.com/events.

8. Discuss the bar community's role in Oakland's future.

In "Oakland Undiluted: Crafting the Future of Oakland's Bar Community," Oakland activist and mayoral candidate Cat Brooks moderates a panel of community and spirits industry leaders in an honest discussion about how the local bar community can help shape Oakland's future.

// For tickets, go to eastbay.boldtypetickets.com/events.

9. Vote for the winner in ROC the Town Throwdown.

The Town Throwdown at Starline Social Club brings together three Oakland bars to compete for the title of best Hennessy craft cocktail of the night; and the winner is up to you, the voters. Every vote will raise funds for ROC the Bay. Following the competition, stay for the dance party to close out the week.

// For tickets, go to eastbay.boldtypetickets.com/events.

10. Start your own themed bar crawl.

If all else fails, gather a group of your friends and pick a few cocktails that fit your favorite Oakland themes. Oakland A's? Local spirits? Tiki? Hella Oakland? Try them all!

Oakland Cocktail Week is made possible with the support of Visit Oakland, Hennessy, JetSuiteX, Oakland Museum of California, Grace Street Catering, and Seedlip.

// Oakland Cocktail Week runs Sept. 15-23, with special ticketed events benefiting the local chapter of nonprofit Restaurants Opportunity Center (ROC the Bay). For more information and tickets, visit oaklandcocktailweek.com; rocunited.org.



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