Drink Here Now
1. Independent Spirits Expo: SF's annual celebration of craft distillers is back for another round tonight, with plenty of small-batch rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila, mezcal, cognac, and liqueurs for drinkers to sample. You'll also be able to chat with distillers and brand representatives, enjoy custom cocktails, and compare spirits side-by-side. Tickets are $60 for the general public and $85 for VIPs (who get in 30 minutes before everyone else), and if you use code MURRAYAID when you register, you'll get $10 off your ticket and send a $10 donation to legendary Seattle bartender Murray Stenson, who's battling heart problems.
1. CUESA's Election Hangover: Whether you're celebrating Obama's second term or mourning Romney's loss, a few drinks are probably in order, which is why CUESA is wrapping up election season with their final cocktail party of the year. Bartenders from Rye, Churchill, Azucar Lounge, Tradition, Rickhouse, The New Easy, Jasper's, Dobbs Ferry, Bocazote, and Acme Bar and Co. will whip up cocktail samples featuring the best of fall produce, while Karlsson's Gold vodka will provide two full-size drinks. They'll have bites from Dobbs Ferry and the Clift Hotel as well. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here.
1. Election Night Cocktails at Blackbird and Solstice Lounge: After you vote on Tuesday, a pair of local bars are happy to reward you for your commitment to doing your duty as a citizen. First up on the list is Blackbird in the Castro, who'll be hosting St. George Spirits for free tastings of their Botanivore and Terroir gins. They'll also be offering two specialty cocktails featuring the gins for $6: the white Negroni (gin, Amaro Montenegro, vermouth, prosecco) and the Poached Pear (gin, lemon, honey syrup, Lambrusco). Simultaneously, St. George will be sponsoring a cocktail competition at Solstice Lounge, with bartenders competing to make the best Terroir gin cocktail as chosen by attendees.
1. StrEat Brew Opens: As promised, the capacious SOMA StrEat Food Park has finally added its first booze-centric trailer, offering a selection of local beer and wine to pair with the grub available from its rotating ten-truck lineup. The selection varies regularly, but always includes local craft favorites like Trumer Pils, Racer 5, Anchor Steam, and Speakeasy Prohibition Ale ($5/pint, $13/pitcher); a selection of bottles and cans, like Great White and Big Daddy, are $4. Happy hour, from 5-7 each day, features $2 PBR tallboys and $4 sangria in flavors like orange-ginger and strawberry-watermelon (regularly $6/glass, $24/pitcher). Check in on their Facebook page to receive $1 off your first drink.
1. Soda Popinski's Opens: The latest addition to the bar family behind Bullitt, Tonic, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and Lightning Tavern, Soda Popinski's is named for a character in the vintage Mike Tyson's Punch-Out Nintendo game. The former Gold Star Bar space has traded its schoolhouse vibe for a clubby hunting-lodge interior, which is countered by a 60-inch flatscreen in the back devoted entirely to vintage Nintendo games (it's free to play). The bar features Fernet, Bulleit bourbon, and Fireball cinnamon liqueur on tap, and there are a few specialty cocktails, including a Moscow Mule and a "Vodka Drunkenski" (but watch out: the latter packs two shots of vodka). (1548 California St., Nob Hill.)
1. SliderBar Opens in the Castro: After getting its start in Palo Alto, this patty-oriented cafe is moving up the Bay to the Castro, taking over the old Criolla Kitchen spot on Market. While the menu of inventive sliders and Belgian frites will tempt burger fans, equally noteworthy is the sixteen-beer draft selection, curated by cicerone Eric Cripe of the Jug Shop, with $2-3 tastes that allow drinkers to sample everything from Kostrizer Schwarzbier to Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. There are also beer floats with Old Rasputin imperial stout and Deschutes Black Butte Porter ($5), agave margaritas ($5) and a selection of California wines ($7-11/glass). (2295 Market St., Castro.)
1. Slate Bar Opens in the Mission: Housed in the former SOM space at 16th and South Van Ness, Slate (pictured above) is looking to move away from its former occupants' clubby vibe to more of a relaxed lounge feel, including adding seating and a pool table. The space is still dark and romantic, and they've introduced a few signature cocktails, like the Jenny's Juice (black tea-infused vodka, lemon, sugar) and the Working Girl (bourbon, apple cider, ginger liqueur, sage). There's also a daily happy hour from 6-10, with $5 well drinks, $1 off beer, and a $6 shot-and-a-beer combo with Tecate and your choice of Jameson or Bulleit. (Wednesday-Saturday, 6 pm-2 am, 2925 16th St., Mission.)
1. The Tenderloin Cocktail Crawl: No plans tonight? Consider heading over to Nirvino's crawl through four bars on the Union Square/Tenderloin border: Jasper's, Rye, The Mortimer, and Grand Cafe. Each bar will make a drink with Akvinta vodka, St. Germain, Don Julio tequila, or Pisco Porton, and drinkers will be able to sample all four for just $10 ($20 at the door), with all proceeds benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Grab your ticket here. (Wednesday, September 26, 5:30 pm, at Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen, 401 Taylor St., Union Square.)
1. The Rite Spot Reopens: After some health-code troubles last year, 60-year-old Mission bar/performance space the Rite Spot is open under new management, and they're back to hosting live music most nights, starting at 9 pm. (Admission is free, but they require a $6 per person food and drink minimum.) They've also launched a happy hour from 4-7 Monday-Thursday and 2-7 on Friday, with $2.50 pints and $3 well drinks and house wine. And the full food menu is back in play, with comfort food like chicken parmesan, pastas, and a burger. Their hours are still TBD, but they plan to be open seven nights a week. (2099 Folsom St., Mission.)
1. Dobbs Bar Opens in Hayes Valley: Hayes Valley is pretty short on watering holes, which is why the folks behind nine-month-old restaurant Dobbs Ferry decided to transform what was originally planned as a private event space into a cozy neighborhood sports bar. Featuring six TVs, draft beers, and a menu of creative shots, the new spot is ideal for catching a fall football game. If you're feeling peckish, they also offer bar bites from the kitchen like chicken nuggets and burgers. (Monday-Thursday, 6 p.m-1:45 am, Friday, 4 pm-1:45 am, Saturday-Sunday, 10 am-1:45 am, 409 Gough St., Hayes Valley.)