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Our Top Picks For SF Cocktail Week

Indian summer is in full swing, which means it's time for another edition of SF Cocktail Week, which runs from next Monday, September 17, through Sunday, September 23. Our Cocktail Week was the nation's first, and though other cities have since jumped on the fun-having/liver-punishing bandwagon, the folks at the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail have continued to innovate, introducing lots of cool new events to complement some of their stalwart offerings. Here are five of our favorite events, all of which showcase the amazing bars, bartenders, and spirits that the Bay Area has to offer. 

Italian Cocktail Hour

Wednesday, September 19, 6-10 pm, at Blackbird (2124 Market St.)

Amaro, the category of herbal, often bitter Italian digestif liqueurs, is best known in SF through Fernet-Branca, but there's a world of other brands to explore, each with its own unique flavor profile (which have made them an increasingly popular cocktail ingredient). 7x7's own Marcia Gagliardi has teamed up with Regina Schauerte and Matt Grippo for this Italo-centric event, at which drinkers can choose between a flight of three amari or three cocktails based around amari. They'll spin '60s Italian music and serve up Fatted Calf charcuterie to pair with the drinks. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. 

Art in the Age Spirited Supper at Millennium

Thursday, September 20, 6 pm, at Millennium (580 Geary St.)

Philadelphia-based Art in the Age has earned acclaim for their line of four organic herb- and spice-based spirits: Root (which tastes like root beer), Snap (ginger snaps), Rhubarb Tea, and the new Sage. Their offerings should pair nicely with the upscale vegan fare at Millennium, which is also focused on organic produce and local farms. Dinner is $90, not including tax and gratuity; make a reservation by calling the restaurant at (415) 345-3900. 

Totally Awesome East Bay to the Max!

Thursday, September 20, 5-8 pm, at The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland).

The East Bay is developing its own ultra-cool cocktail culture, with reimagined spots like the New Easy, the Hotsy Totsy Club, and Boot and Shoe Service joining the ranks of established classics like Flora. And like the bartenders of the East Bay, this '80s-themed event is totally unpretentious, with mixologists reimagining and updating cheesy cocktails like Fuzzy Navels and Slippery Nipples, and a DJ spinning era-appropriate tunes. Costumes are encouraged, so dig out your best Day-Glo and padded shoulders. Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door. 

The California Altered State Fair

Saturday, September 22, 8-11 pm, at Mission Dispatch (1975 Bryant St.)

Cocktail Week wouldn't be complete without a raucous Saturday-night party, and this year's bash takes inspiration from the time-honored tradition of the state fair, but with a twist: the sno-cones contain Manhattans, the watermelon punch is smoked and spiked, and weird liqueurs like kale, radish/fennel, and corn on the cob play tribute to the vegetable patch. Fried food and midway games complete the picture (but the event is outdoors, so be sure to dress in something a little warmer than you'd wear to the average fair). Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door. 

St. George Spirits: Bartenders Behind Bars

Sunday, September 23, 1-5 pm, at St. George Spirits (2601 Monarch St., Alameda). 

The Sunday-afternoon closing party at St. George Spirits is a Cocktail Week tradition, and the distillery never disappoints with its outdoor setting, solid lineup of bartenders, creative decor, and raucous, let-loose spirit. This year, the theme is prison, and there's sure to be plenty of fun with gin and bourbon drinks, squirt-gun target practice, a "tattoo" station, and food from Tacolicious, Breads of India, and Five Ten Burger. Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door; a shuttle service between the distillery, West Oakland BART, and the Ferry Building is available for an additional $5.