Drink Here Now
1. Caskhouse Opens: Noe Valley beer fans now have a bar of their very own; Caskhouse (which was supposed to be called Crafthouse, but got a name change after Tom Colicchio of Craft sent a cease-and-desist letter) is now open, with six California draft beers ($7 a pint) like CaliCraft Cali Kolsch, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, and Drake's Robusto Porter, as well as several wines by the glass ($10-12) and a handful of bottled and canned brews. Hearty food offerings include housemade salt and pepper chips ($4) and porter-braised beef short ribs ($8). (Tuesday-Friday, 4 pm-12 am and Saturday-Sunday, 2 pm-12 am; 3853 24th St., Noe Valley.)
1. Wine Kitchen Opens: The Divisadero corridor has a new place to sip a glass of vino; Wine Kitchen, which opened last week, has an enormous selection of wines from around the globe, including four local draft wines ($9-12), two draft beers ($5-6), and more than 40 bottles (ranging from $30 for an Italian Prosecco to $110 for Billecart-Salmon champagne). The "kitchen" part of the equation is also very much in play; the owners have worked at Commonwealth, Bar Tartine, and Spruce, and their menu includes gourmet offerings like crispy sweetbreads, tuna crudo, and mushroom tempura. (Bar: Monday-Saturday, 4:30-11 pm; kitchen: 5:30-10 pm; 560 Divisadero St., Western Addition/NOPA.)
1. Trick Dog Opens: Multiple years in the making, the new bar from Hot 30 recipients the Bon Vivants (which shares the Central Kitchen and Salumeria space at 20th and Florida) is a custom-designed labor of love. The Bon Vivants, who also own SOMA's Rio Grande and devised the cocktail menus for everywhere from Quince to Comal, took inspiration from the Pantone color palette for their own menu, with offerings like the Pantone 7621 (bourbon, Combier, Kummel, beet juice, ginger and lemon) and the Baby Turtle (left; tequila, Campari, grapefruit, cinnamon, lime, egg white). There's also a menu of highballs and non-alcoholic drinks, plus beer and wine. The kitchen is open until 2 am, serving eclectic bar food like fried pork belly bites, kale salad, and Scotch eggs-- you'll never be without a classy late-night bite in the Mission again. (Daily, 3 pm-2 am, 3010 20th St., Mission.)
1. Bay Area Brew Fest: Get warmed up for Beer Week next month by hitting this fourth annual celebration of craft beer at Fort Mason. The $40 admission ($50 VIP) includes unlimited tastings from dozens of breweries, including Ballast Point, Almanac, Heretic, Pacific Brewing Laboratory, Sierra Nevada, Deschutes, Uncommon Brewers, Lagunitas, Speakeasy, Firestone Walker, Bitch Creek, Ninkasi, Rogue, and more. Food trucks like Doc's of the Bay and Bombzies BBQ will be on-site, and Three Twins Ice Cream will be offering a special Lagunitas flavor. Get your tickets here. (Saturday, January 5, 2-6 pm, at Fort Mason Building A, Marina Blvd. and Buchanan St., Marina.)
1. Bad Santa's Christmas Industry Party: The folks at Tacolicious' sister tequila bar Mosto are hosting a Monday-night holiday bash for folks in the restaurant and bar industry, but everyone is invited. Good thing, because they're offering $7 St. George Spirits and Del Maguey mezcal cocktails like the Elf Offender (bourbon, mezcal, Aztec bitters, agave), the Vixen (gin, mezcal, grilled pineapple, mint, agave, lime, Jarritos tamarindo soda), and Saint Rompope (a Mexican eggnog with rum, bourbon, mezcal, and other fixings). They'll also have a raffle, and holiday-themed costumes are encouraged. (Monday, December 17, 6:30-11 pm, at Mosto, 741 Valencia St., Mission.)
1. Skrewcap Tastings at Nectar: If you're a fan of bubbles, Pamela Busch of Skrewcap is doing a pair of sparkling wine-centric tastings at Nectar Wine Lounge in the Marina. The first, this Saturday, is a "Bubbles on a Budget" tasting, featuring outstanding and well-priced sparkling wine from around the globe. Next Saturday, she'll shift the focus to authentic Champagne, complemented with bubbles from California-based Schramsberg. Admission to the first tasting is $20; the second is $30. Those interested in getting the party started early should swing by Nectar for their new Saturday brunch, featuring fresh-pressed juices and mimosas from Thrive Juicery.
1. OneUp Restaurant & Lounge Opens: The renovated Grand Hyatt hotel just outside of Union Square has added a new restaurant and bar, and they've called in the big guns, with Cass Calder Smith designing the space and Scott Beattie consulting on the bar menu. Cocktails ($13) include the Downtown Manhattan, which combines Templeton rye with Evan Williams single-barrel bourbon and Carpano Antica, and the Millionaire, a combination of rum, sloe gin, and apricot liqueur. Whiskey fans also shouldn't miss the bar's custom, 138-proof whiskey from Napa Valley-based Charbay, aged for 22 months in Chardonnay barrels and served in a flask. If you're peckish, bar bites include a lamb burger and duck-fat potato wedges. (Daily, 11 am-1 am, 345 Stockton St., Union Square.)
1. Gitane's New Bar Menu: Changes are afoot at the Financial District's Gitane, which is transforming its menu into a seasonal rotation through different Spanish cuisines (including those of Seville, Andalusia, and Valencia) with the help of new chef Patrick Kelly, who's joining wife Bridget Batson in the kitchen. There are also big changes at the bar, including an updated beer program with options like Linden Street amber ale and Scrimshaw pilsner, and sherry-centric cocktails ($12) like the Smoking Lady (vodka, amontillado sherry, Laphroaig, honey, lemon, sage) and the Doblon (Yamazaki single malt, fino sherry, lemon, honey syrup).
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.