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What Your Drink Says About You (And Maybe Your 'Hood)

1. Shot of Patrón You think you know, but you have no idea.
2. Pacifico and a shot of anything Fine-dining restaurant employee.
3. Sommelier Sidecar Your knowledge of wine is not as good as you think it is.
4. Vodka Soda Marina chick (even if you're a guy).
5. Jack and Diet Ex–frat boy who spends too much time at the gym.
6. Dark and Stormy Seasoned drinker who's "on the wagon."
7. Milk of Millennia You're likely from L.A.
8. Mojito European tourist who will later ask whether we know of a good disco in the area.
9. Vodka Red Bull Show us your ID.

California Wines by the Half: What to Drink

2006 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay
Citrus and apple with a hint of toast and spice. Tightly wound, this wine insinuates that even a half bottle will keep nicely for a few years. ($22)

2005 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs
Gorgeous and complex, this wine has the perfect balance between sharp, laser-like structure and deep, hedonistic richness. ($16)

2006 Robert Sinskey Carneros Pinot Noir
Sinskey has the touch when it comes to Pinot. Notes of red cherry and cranberry have an underlying bed of loam and tea. The fresh acidity is integrated for a velvety texture. ($19)

Ordering Drinks: How to Get Served in SF

DO have your entire order ready, for yourself and your friends. No bartender has the time to meet each member of your posse. And when we finish making your margarita, please don't say, "Oh, and two more of those."

DON'T whine, "My drink's too sweet." Politely say that you like it a little more tart, and we'll be happy to fix it for you.

DO be patient.

DON'T ask to have your drink made extra strong. Would you ask a chef to put an extra steak on your plate for no charge?

DO have your money or credit card ready. The moment to dig through your purse is not when there are 50 people behind you.

The Rise of Miss Saigon

Make no mistake—Miss Saigon isn’t going to revolutionize the dodgy block on which it sits (at the corner of Sixth and Mission streets). It is, however, a good place to get lunch if you’re tired of the options at the Westfield SF Centre. The utilitarian, but spic-and-span, dining room is run by an efficient workforce that bustles about, delivering Vietnamese coffee and fussing (in a good way) over the guests. Menuwise, it’s the usual suspects: We have no complaints about fried squid with scallions and garlic (#14) or the delicate threads of green papaya in the classic salad named after it (get #9, shown here, the version with shrimp and pork). Linger too long and you’ll be subjected to a viewing of violinist André Rieu’s DVD of love songs, shown on three televisions.

Holiday Gift Idea #2: Noe Valley Baking Co. Stollen

Oh, yes, we’re in the thick of it now. Here is something that will make things better: A big old slice of Noe Valley Baking Co.’s superlative stollen. Stollen, that yeasted sweet bread of German origin, studded with citron and raisins and gently perfumed with almond, is just the thing to perk you up. Buy a few now and throw them in your freezer, then toast and butter slices as needed all month long. Also worth noting: the $21 loaves make very lovely host/ess gifts.

Available at Noe Valley Baking Co., 4073 24th St., 415-550-1405

Spanish Beauty

Rich white wines, especially white Burgundies, are popular around the holidays. They're delicious with cheese, lobster, crab and all the other rich things we like to eat. Problem is, they're super expensive. Here's an alternative:

 

Notes from a Darkened Theater: Happy Returns for Zoolander and Rambo?

Ben Stiller is no stranger to sequels.

Fresh off the dual successes of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Tropic Thunder, his decade-in-the-making passion project about a group of coddled actors lost in the jungles of Laos, he was already set to reprise his starring role in Night at the Museum, with a sequel due in May 2009. And though Stiller has confirmed plans for a third installment of his Meet the Parents saga – no surprise there, given its sustained success at the box office – he recently admitted that he’d like to bring back a character whose appeal proved more elusive the first time around: Derek Zoolander, the titular hero of his 2001 satire about the witless world of male models.

Best Glasses for Film Buffs: You'll Find Them in Hayes Valley

Look closely: The sides of those eyeglass frames from Hungarian company Cinematique are crafted of 35mm film from real movies (but only those made after 1989, when communism fell). Through the Hayes Optometry. 529 Hayes St, 415-553-6166, vinylize.com

Jay's Cheesesteaks and Liberty Ale—Sweet Perfection



Drinking food: I'm not talking about liquid food, but about the kind of food that insists on being accompanied by a good drink. In this case, Exhibit A is the cheesesteak, a wonderful sandwich with sautéed steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms and cheese served on a toasted roll with, usually, a little mayo and maybe some mustard. I'm a big fan of the cheesesteaks at Jay's (553 Divisadero). I get mine to go, however, because Jay's doesn't serve beer and I think the proper cheesesteak experience is not complete without a good brew. You can go with a lighter style lager--a Budweiser, for instance--but I like something a little richer and more flavorful, as the cheesesteaks at Jay's are pretty rich themselves and also quite savory.

Holiday Gift Idea #1: Get the Best Bonbon of 2008 at Coco-luxe

If you can't cook a turkey and write your Christmas list at the same time, you've failed in holiday multi-tasking.

But we're here to help. Starting today until December 25, Jessica and I are going to let you what we want for Christmas, because the best gifts to give are often the ones you want to eat yourself.

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