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Mixology Madness: Neighborhood Bartender Bracketology

Just last night, while tending bar at Cantina (which I do most Mondays), I chatted with a lovely young couple on vacation from Tuscon. With plans already to see Alcatraz, etc, they asked me what I thought they should do while in town. "Get out and walk the neighborhoods," I told them. "That's where the heart and the identity of San Francisco is. And it's the most fun you can have to see what they're all about."

I really believe that, as does 7x7, which has made special emphasis on this point with a whole issue and a collection of "love letters" devoted to neighborhoods. Of course, no neighborhood is complete without one or two great bars. And in these bars there are inevitably a few wonderful, long-standing bartenders. You know, the types who know the names and business of the local residents, know what they drink, and generally keep the conversation going while pouring beers and shaking cocktails.The thing is, you usually have to frequent these neighborhood bars to learn who these bartenders are.

Well, we want to find them. That's why we're designing a competition to find the best neighborhood bartender. Taking a cue from the NCAA Basketball tournament, we've divided the city into quadrants--north, south, west, and east. Contestants will move up after winning consecutive rounds until finally one champion is crowned. We need your help to fill out the playing field. Please nominate your favorite neighborhood bartender here, and if he or she is chosen, you get to help judge in the tournament.

One thing that might be interesting for the tournament is if it's not focused solely on creative mixology--like every other cocktail competition around--but also on the sorts of skills that a neighborhood bartender needs to have. Who pours the best pint? Who mixes the best martini? Who pours, without measuring, the most accurate shot? Just a thought. There's nothing more simple than a great neighborhood bar, and likewise when I go to my corner bar, it's always the simplest things that I want the most.