Eat + Drink
Each week, we bring you our top picks for the best places to booze on the cheap in SF.
1. Foursquare at Epic Roasthouse: Enjoy broadcasting your location to friends via Foursquare? Then get ready for what will surely be WikiLeaks-level news in your social circle: the first five people to check into Epic Roasthouse's bar during happy hour get a free drink. (And even the losers win, with drinks from $3-5.) The only problem: happy hour starts at 3 pm. We suggest claiming some sort of ice-skating-related injury. (Monday, December 13-Friday, December 17, 3-6:30 pm, at Epic Roasthouse, 369 The Embarcadero, Embarcadero.)
Learn to Make Tamales
If you want to make homemade tamales part of your holiday feast (or you simply want to add them to your culinary repertoire), learn the craft from two experts—Dilsa Lugo and Maria del Carmen Flores will be teaching a hands-on class on December 15 at La Cocina. Learn how to make tamales wrapped in both corn husks and banana leaves, and get a bag of the finished product to take home. Tickets are a steal at $65, which includes dinner and drinks!
That we are in the season of hot drinks--toddies, liquor combined with butter, libations laced with spices--is understood. Though this season could arguably be said to begin in, say, July, it is most fully embraced during the holiday season, when a warm drink feels like the requisite partner to nut-encrusted cheese balls.
Should you choose to partake, here's the low-down,
Paul Einbund is the wine director of the Slanted Door restaurant group including Out the Door Bush Street and Westfield Centre as well as Heaven's Dog. He also runs the beverage program at Frances, and has worked at Coi and more. Look for him here every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter @pauleinbund.
I got a chance the other day to sit down with the Jeff Kessinger, the man behind Firelit Coffee Liqueur ($45), an excellent spirit which is now on its second batch. It was made with the help of St. George Spirits. "I came up with a basic recipe," said Kessinger. "And they helped me trick it out."
Batch No. 2, which was recently released, was made with Blue Bottle's Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans. We did a little tasting about 4 pm on a Tuesday, a perfect workday pick-me-up of sorts. Just don't tell your boss.
It seems like everyone's on a Negroni kick lately, but to make one perfectly, you need a good gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Our friends at Liquor.com challenged some of SF's best bartenders from watering holes like Marco Dionysos from Smuggler's Cove and Rye, Erik Adkins from Heaven's Dog, and Ryan Fitzgerald and Vince Lund from Beretta to mix up the best Negroni they could to determine which gins and sweet vermouths are prime. Read about the results here, and mix up your own Negroni with the winning recipe.
I moved recently from my place in Bernal Heights to a house that sits right on the cusp of Noe Valley and the Castro. When we moved in, I asked the previous tenant, a flamboyant real estate broker, which neighborhood he described it as. He took a moment to look my husband up and down and said, "Well, I call it the Castro. But you—you're definitely going to call it Noe Valley."
The two neighborhoods might offer different stereotypes, but their food offerings are about equal. Neither are considered SF food meccas (although with Frances, the Castro's definitely coming up in the world).
We're going to be doing a lot of posting about holiday drinking over the coming weeks to get you through all that cheer. We're kicking things off with hotel bars. Here's where we recommend imbibing this season:
Big 4 Restaurant
With lawyer-green club chairs, lead-glass mirrors, dark wood paneling, a fireplace, and a nightly piano player (this part is key), the Huntington Hotel’s restaurant and bar has that weighty but casual feel of old money—a place where real men are made. But of course it does: The place is named after the major railroad tycoons.
1075 California St., 415-771-1140, big4restaurant.com
Crab season has arrived loud and clear, and Dungeness this and that are popping up on menus all around town. Starbelly is reaping the ocean's bounty and organizing a family-style Dungeness crab and chardonnay feast next Tuesday, December 7th, from 5-9 pm.
It's limited to 60 lucky people so get in there now while you can. At $56 per person, you can gorge with Chef Adam and winemaker Jim Malone from Terra Savia vineyards on a crab-centric menu that is already making our mouths water.
Here's just an inkling of what they might serve:
Fresh Dungeness crab with drawn butter and remoulade