At the end of 2011, we retired Lowering the Bar, our cheap-drinks roundup. Our new column, Drink Here Now, offers enticing drinking options for a variety of budgets. We hope you'll enjoy it!
1. Honor Bar Opens in Emeryville: Whether you're returning a few less-than-fabulous Christmas gifts at the mall or fulfilling your resolution to redecorate with a trip to IKEA, you just might find yourself in Emeryville sometime soon. While you're there, be sure to drop into the brand-new Honor Bar, which features Gitane alum Alex Smith behind the stick and Stag Dining Group chef Jordan Grosser in the kitchen. Inventive cocktails ($10) include the Saturnalia (rye, cranberry liqueur, allspice dram, maple, and sage) and the Winter Flip (brandy, tawny port, Indian pudding, and a whole egg). Grab a bucket of fried chicken ($11) or a merguez sausage ($9) to complete the experience-- but don't plan on trying to set up that dining room set once you return to SF. (Open Tuesday-Thursday, 4:30 pm-12:30 am, Friday-Saturday, 4:30 pm-1:30 am. 1411 Powell St., Emeryville.)
2. Yelp's Holiday Hangover: Like five-year-olds everywhere, the folks at Yelp just don't want the holidays to end. Unlike the tots, however, they're actually keeping the party going, with a week of themed bashes at Big Daddy's Antiques in Potrero Hill. Each night corresponds to a theme like "Hyphy in the Hamptons" or "Sneaky Tiki," with libations from Skyy Spirits, Rye on the Road, Trumer Pils, and a rotating cast of wineries. Yelpers can sign up for one of the parties tomorrow at noon, but even non-members have a chance to get in the door: just e-mail here to enter for a chance to win one of 20 tickets to the bash of your choice, courtesy of Yelp and 7x7. Full details on all the parties can be found here. (Monday, January 9- Friday, January 13, 7:30-9:30 pm, at Big Daddy's Antiques, 1550 17th St., Potrero Hill.)
3. Speed Rack San Francisco: If you like booze and boobs (and really, who doesn't?), you'll want to clear your schedule for Sunday's Speed Rack event, an all-female bartending battle royale that will benefit breast cancer research. Lady mixologists from the likes of Rickhouse, 15 Romolo, Rye, Cantina, Laszlo, and the Hotsy Totsy Club will try to quickly and accurately complete randomly chosen cocktails from a book of 50+ standard recipes, with a grand prize of $500 and a trip to the national competition. While you watch, enjoy free punch, cocktails, Trumer Pils, and snacks from Beretta. Tickets are $25 in advance or $35 with an included T-shirt, and are available here. (Sunday, January 8, 3-7 pm, at Brick & Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission St., Mission.)
4. Free Dewar's Scotch Tasting: Dewar's scotch is teaming up with the United States Bartenders' Guild to host four nights of free Scotch blending, tasting, and education classes at Fort Mason. The cost? Bupkis. Even with 10 tasting times available, this one will go fast, so be sure to sign up at their website ASAP; they'll even go to the trouble of inviting up to three friends on your behalf. (Wednesday, January 11- Saturday, January 14, times vary, at Fort Mason Festival Pavilion.)
5. White Elephant Re-Gifting Party: Sure, you could save those ugly presents for next year's round of White Elephant festivities, but why not get them out of your house now? Taverna Aventine will help you trade up for any wrapped present, and as you haggle over the best stuff, they'll serve up $5 holiday berry spritzes (Veev, cranberry juice, and sparkling wine) and dark and stormys to keep you in the festive spirit. (Friday, January 6, 6-9 pm, at Taverna Aventine, 582 Washington St., Financial District.)