Our Top Picks for SF Cocktail Week
The world's first cocktail week is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, and as always, there are plenty of educational events, bar crawls, parties, after-parties, and other boozy fun to be had. Since our livers aren't made of titanium, we took it upon ourselves to condense the many awesome options down to six favorites. But if you happen to boast some sort of Six Million Dollar Man-type level of alcohol tolerance, let us direct your attention towards the SFCW Gold Pass, which will get you into almost every event, all week long, for just $700. Be sure to keep some Alka-Seltzer handy.
15 Romolo and Stag Dining Group Dinner
Tuesday, September 20, 7:30 pm, at 15 Romolo (15 Romolo Place). Cost: $120.
With ten restaurant-and-distillery pairing dinners on the docket for the week, it was honestly difficult choosing just one. But Stag Dining Group's dinner at 15 Romolo offers a few bonuses: a chance to eat Stag's food (their pop-up dinners usually sell out quickly, and they never have the same menu twice), cocktails made by some of the best bartenders in town (Cointreau will be the primary ingredient), and most importantly, the chance to enjoy a quiet meal inside historic 15 Romolo, which is typically in "packed, loud bar" mode. But if you had to send us to Bar Agricole's dinner with St. George Spirits instead, we wouldn't be hurt in the least. Or Michael Mina's with Pisco Porton. Or Absinthe's with Grand Marnier. Or...
Shaker & Flask
Wednesday, September 21, 6-9 pm, at Big Daddy Antiques (1550 17th St.) Cost: $75.
True cocktail geeks won't want to miss this foray into the world of science-- with a boozy twist, of course. From pressure-infused liquors to liquid nitrogen concoctions to cocktail popsicles, the bartenders here will push the limits of their imaginations to make cocktails like you've never seen before. As an added bonus, it's in one of the city's niftier antiques stores, making for plenty of cool places to explore while you sip. If the cocktail slushy at Commonwealth got you hot and bothered, it's time to take it to the next level.
How to Set Up Your Home Bar
Tuesday, September 20, 6-8 pm, at the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts (1161 Mission St., Suite 120). Cost: $25 advance, $35 at the door.
With so many talented mixologists all over the city, it can be tempting to leave your cocktailing life entirely to the pros. But just like eating out for every meal, having all your drinks out denies you the pleasures of playing around in the kitchen-- and drains your wallet. The experts here will tell you which liquors to buy (and which to avoid) and the basic equipment you'll need to turn your home into the coolest bar in town.
Wednesday, September 21, 8 pm-12 am, at Rye (688 Geary St.)
Mixology is a male-dominated profession, but that doesn't mean that the fairer sex isn't just as talented behind the stick. Get to know some of SF's top female bartenders at this event at Rye, which features female representatives of Belden Taverna, 15 Romolo, Flora, the Hotsy Totsy Club, and Michael Mina. As a bonus, they'll be working entirely with liquors produced by female distillers, including Distillery No. 209 gin, Square One vodka, Four Roses bourbon, and Calle 23 tequila. Admission is free; just pay for the drinks.
Best of the West
Thursday, September 22, 6-9 pm, at Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St.) Cost: $55 advance, $65 at the door.
SF has bar stars to spare, but we aren't the only great cocktail town on this side of the country. This event brings in some of the most talented mixologists from Vancouver, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, L.A., and Vegas, allowing attendees to sample the best bartenders from the Best Coast without having to purchase a plane ticket. Alongside local mixologists, they'll showcase concoctions that incorporate challenging cocktail ingredients like passion fruit and coffee; attendees can enjoy their drinks over an on-site game of blackjack, roulette, or poker.
St. George Spirits Bathtub Gin BBQ
Sunday, September 25, 4-7 pm, at St. George Spirits (2601 Monarch St., Alameda). Cost: $35 advance, $45 at the door.
St. George Spirits, makers of such gems as Hangar One vodka and Agua Libre rum, have just introduced three new gins, including a rye-based version and a version made with botanicals sourced entirely from Mt. Tam. Cap off the weekend by heading over to the Alameda distillery/former airplane hangar for one of their famous parties, which never lack for sunshine (or spirits). Food isn't included in the ticket price, but they'll have it for sale; a shuttle pass that will get you to and from the West Oakland BART station is an extra $10.
For full information on all SF Cocktail Week events, or to purchase tickets, visit their website.