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Best Thing About December: Afternoon Drinking

I'm so happy it's December 1. Well, I mean, it's true that the year has raced by faster than ever, and I puzzle over where exactly it went. And it's true that we're getting into that hectic crush where end-of-the-year projects collide with holiday shopping only to be buried by an avalanche of social obligations. But we're also in the month that allows us a coping mechanism for the madness: the afternoon drink. Naturally, I'm writing this with a martini in hand (one of my favorite afternoon cocktails -- 2 parts Plymouth, 1 part Noilly-Pratt, lemon twist, stirred). I hope you're reading this with same.

The Exploratorium Goes Adult with "After Dark" Tonight

We're not ashamed to admit it—we love the Exploratorium, the interactive science museum that caters to kids but inevitably delights visitors of all ages. Now that we're grown up, however, we have to confess having some fantasies about hitting the Tactile Dome after knocking back a few adult beverages. Wish granted! Based on the success of the California Academy of Sciences' "Nightlife," the Exploratorium now has a new "After Dark" series, where the fun of playing with their exhibits meets the fun of hitting the bar. Just think: You could meet that special someone while you toy with the Tesla coil.

East Meets West: NYC Bartender Does Beretta

With people like Momfuku's David Chang in town promoting his book and doing 7x7 panel discussions, all the talk in the food world has been about the NYC-SF rivalry in the food world. But it’s not only in the kitchen that the two coasts have their differences. Bartenders in New York and San Francisco have long had a rivalry, though it tends to be less contentious than the chefs. Vive la Difference is more the motto than trash talk like “all San Francisco bartenders do is put lime in glass!” That said, it’s still interesting to explore the differences between the two bartending cultures.

Drink or Treat? Halloween Cocktails, Both Good and Bad.

Not that anyone needs and excuse to party on Halloween, but when it falls on a Saturday, as it does this year, I can sense trouble. Pretty much every bar is going to be revving up its party atmosphere this weekend, so there's no need to list them all.

But all manner of Halloween cocktail suggestions have been landing in my inbox over the last week or so, so I thought I share a few of them with you--both the tasty-sounding and the gruesome.

Wine in Cocktails? Fair or Foul?

Yesterday, Jason Wilson of the Washington Post wrote of his experiences using wine--specifically the Yellowtail wine from Australia that he disdained--in cocktails and finding it pretty darn good. In the article he says our own SF bartender Neyah White of Nopa mixes Croft Pink, a new-styled port wine, "in an ice-filled highball glass with gin and orange bitters, then tops it with ginger beer." Does that sound good to your or bad? Could you imagine using your favorite Napa Cab in a drink or would you just prefer to drink it straight? Wine can be a harmonious blender, but it's definitely less alcohol and concentration than a spirit.

The Spirituous Cocktail: Not Only For New Yorkers

I was bartending the other night at Cantina and made a round of drinks for a group. When it came time for the second round, one of the guys said he liked the cocktail I made him, but wanted something "stronger." Now I hate it when people ask for "stronger" drinks. Bartenders put the right amount of alcohol in each drink, so don't ask for more. You wouldn't ask for more steak in a restaurant after your first serving, would you? I told him that his last drink had been strong, just balanced so it didn't taste that way.

The Booze News: How Distinctive Is Really Old Wine?

The Booze News is a roundup of pertinent or otherwise interesting drink-related stories from the media. I try to do it once a week.

The Mixology Madness: Has the Cocktail Movement Exhausted Itself?

With so many of our bartenders gone to New Orleans for the world's premier cocktail forum, I thought I'd take a moment here in SF by taking a look at where this cocktail thing of ours is heading.

Cocktail's New Cube: It's Anything But Square

Even though we San Franciscans are chilly most of the year, during these rare scorching days of summer, it's hard not to occasionally fantasize about a cold beverage, filled to the top with glistening, frosty ice cubes. We don't usually spend a lot of time thinking about ice, but I can assure you that many of city's bartenders do whether it's cubed, spheroid, chipped, shaved or crushed.

Revisit: Heaven's Dog Remains True

I raved about the drinks at Heaven's Dog after my first visit, which was only a week or so after it opened. I loved the menu, the style, the execution. But no restaurant should be judged prematurely--revisiting is good both to see if things have improved or to see if they've remained consistent.

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