by Allie Pape

In a city with as many great drink options as ours, every week can feel like SF Cocktail Week, but all next week, the best local booze purveyors are amping up their game to give your liver the ride of its life. There are tons of great events to choose from, but in the interest of preserving your sobriety and sanity, here are five picks that appeal to every aspect of the cocktail-drinking experience, from learning more about spirits to getting down at a crazy adult carnival.

  • If you want to learn more about how to taste spirits:

    Cocktail Melee (Saturday, September 22): The Cigar Bar & Grill is bringing in some of the Bay Area's best craft distillers (like St. George, House Spirits, Charbay, and Oxley gin) to educate you on how to taste and discern between different spirits. Whether you're looking to learn how to taste different scotches, how flavor is infused into vodka, or what gives gin its unique flavor, this event will allow you to try a bunch of different flavor profiles and see what tastes best. But don't worry about having to keep things too straight: the hosts are mixing up some cocktails, too. And Scoutmob has got you covered with a big ol' discount on your ticket.

  • If you need some food to wash down all that liquor:

    Spirited Food Trucks (Tuesday, September 18): A snack or two from a food truck is always welcome, but wouldn't those sliders, tacos, and cupcakes taste even better with a cocktail in hand? That's the philosophy behind this bash at the SOMA StrEat Food Park, in which Elixir, Rye, Jasper's, and 15 Romolo will serve up boozy offerings to pair with the vendors' best bites. Since you'll be juggling cardboard boats and drinks, though, the bars have done their best to accommodate with cool new serving methods, including cocktails that have been bottled, canned, carbonated, or kegged. Too bad we can't pick up a few of these at the corner convenience store.

  • If you're really more of a beer person:

    The Story of R5 Whiskey (Wednesday, September 19): Charbay's Marko Karakasevic may be a thirteenth-generation master distiller, but he still enjoys a cold brew, which is why he was the first distiller to create whiskey out of fully-hopped, bottle-ready beer. If you thought your pint of Racer 5 at the corner bar was tasty, wait until you try it in a boilermaker with the new Charbay R5 whiskey, which is distilled straight from Bear Republic's kegs and available in both unaged and aged styles. (We've tried both, and words beyond "this is freaking awesome" definitely failed us.) Marko's walk-through on how to make booze out of beer might just turn you into a cocktail convert after all.

  • If you wish more carnivals had booze:

    Altered State Fair (Saturday, September 22): The whip, the fish-bowl toss, and a corn dog (or two) may have been fun when you were young, but we all know that those carnies were probably having an even better party once the kids cleared out for the day. This Jupiter Olympus party offers the best of both worlds, with midway games, a bevy of fried food, and some boozy twists on the best carnival sweet treats. Salt-water taffy Old Fashioneds? Manhattan sno-cones? Corn on the cob liqueur? You'll have to drag us out of this theme park. Get your ticket through Scoutmob for a delicious deal on admission.

  • If you want to travel, but can't afford a plane ticket:

    Best of the West (Wednesday, September 19): While most of the stars of this week's events work behind the stick in SF, this party opens the doors to our brethren bartenders up and down the West Coast. Top bartenders from L.A., Seattle, Portland, Reno, Sacramento, Vegas, and San Diego will all be on-site, offering a signature cocktail that they feel represents the character of their city. As an added bonus, if you haven't yet made it to the Bourbon & Branch folks' popular new spot, Tradition, it's being held there, giving you a chance to check out the ultra-cool space (be sure to peep the nine booths, each themed after a different type of historical bar, from tiki to English pub).


Allie Pape is a writer in San Francisco. She also writes for 7x7, DailyCandy, and The Bold Italic.