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Top Bartenders Face Off at Domaine de Canton Competition

Last week, some of San Francisco's best bartenders faced off in one leg of what is sure to be one of the most high profile cocktail competitions in the country. Sponsored by Domaine de Canton, that spicy, complex and delicious ginger liqueur that debuted earlier this year, the contest is worth $10,000 to the ultimate winner and a trip to St Martin for the finalists. Considering all that, you would think tensions would have been high at Le Colonial, where the event was staged. Rather, though, the mood was festive and the bartenders didn't act as if they were nervous at all. Drink ingredients varied from coffee beans and kaffir lime leaves to coconut milk and pineapple.

Mission Holiday Block Party

Perhaps no other San Francisco neighborhood masters the balance of high and low like the Mission (think bacon wrapped hot dogs versus dinner at Range, thrift store furniture finds versus Mid-Century masterpieces at Monument), but rarely do you see high for low... anywhere in the city, for that matter. This Friday, however, some of the Mission's finer merchants will be bucking the norm with late-night sales and deals on everything from home decor to clothes to drinks (yes, please). There will also be a number of door prizes, live entertainment, and complementary snackies at locations throughout the area.

GLAAD Benefit at Bimma Loft and ID Home

Scoot over to Potrero Hill this weekend for cocktails and sales at not one but two (!) fabulous home decor spots.

Missed the Hipster Taco Truck? Don't Worry, This Might Be Better

New restaurants? Exciting. New renegade one-day-a-week restaurants with a rotating roster of guest chefs, an ever-changing menu and a rental kitchen? Sign us up. For all of you who missed Mission Street Food, the short lived “hipster” taco truck that appeared for a few Thursday nights this fall, now is your chance to sample the goods. The operation has moved indoors.

Mabel Chong Opens on Sacramento Street

Presidio Heights has a new go-to shop for bespoke baubles, thanks to the opening of the second San Francisco store and working atelier of Mabel Chong. Larger than the diminutive original location in Noe Valley, the local designer’s new Sacramento Street home showcases her handmade necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets amid furnishings collected by Chong's husband, Mark Welte.

Pop in to see Chong’s latest work: black diamond-and-18K-gold stardust bead earrings and long, asymmetrical necklaces that can be worn plain or layered for added drama. And if a piece of furniture catches your eye, don’t be shy. Chong has plans to put price tags on the store’s art and furnishings, too.

This Week's Top Eat + Drink Events

1. Bavarian Brews
Tonight, get in a German state-of-mind at the Bavarian beer dinner at Local Kitchen. Eight unusual beers will be poured and paired with an assortment of dishes. The dinner is $75 (excluding tax and gratuity); reserve your spot by emailing by emailing vinonotes@yahoo.com

Have Yourself A Downbeat Alt. Rock Christmas?

“It can’t be all cheer and happiness, there has to be some suicidal depression and family hatred and alcoholism,” Aimee Mann told the crowd at Bimbo’s Sunday night at the scene of her Third Annual Christmas show. She then launched into her “hit” of sullen melancholy, “Save Me.”

Depression, alcoholism and hatred are what you might expect from Aimee Mann, holiday cheer and jovial whimsy, not so much. But apparently she’s been doing these Christmastime variety shows all over the place and it’s a charming way to espy another side of the subdued singer songwriter.

All Aboard!

It's been one strange year for the travel industry. First, gas prices rose to an all-time high, topping out above $5 a gallon here in California. Then, they were the lowest they have been in years, but thanks in part to a recession (and perhaps a heightened awareness of the environment), people have been driving less, thus keeping the supply-and-demand factor in favor of the consumer. Air travel became increasingly more difficult, what with the ridiculous addition of fees--baggage fees, paying-for-exit-row-seat fees, purchasing-tickets-via-phone fees, sky-high fuel surcharge fees, anything the airlines could come up with really. And long-distance buses...well, who takes those anyhow? They're crowded, slow and unreliable.

Twilight Author Stephenie Meyer on Her Favorite Kind of Vampire

Connecticut-born author Stephenie Meyer never planned to become a full-time writer.

Not that her passion for literature was some sort of fleeting fancy. After attending high school in Scottsdale, Arizona – Meyer’s family relocated to Arizona when she was four – she used a National Merit Scholarship to help pay her way through Brigham Young University, where she majored in English. But Meyer never envisioned herself as a bestselling author, much less watching the cinematic adaptation of her first novel, Twilight, dominate the holiday box office to the tune of nearly $140 million in its first two weeks.

On the unusual trappings of fame:

Where's the snow?

With the Sierra snow pack at 2 percent of average for the date and no storms in the near forecast, skiers and snowboarders are terrified. What if it doesn’t snow this year? What if we have to suffer through a gray SF winter without an escape to that sparkling white powder?

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