Fresh sips

Spring into the season with fab local cocktails
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culture@sfbg.com

Spring is positively bursting with wacky holidays. Arbor Day? April Fool's Day? Patriot's Day? How the heck are you supposed to celebrate those with a cocktail or two? Figuring out what drink to pair with which spring holiday can become an overwhelming ordeal. Sure, the first few are easy: St. Patrick's Day and green beer, Passover and four glasses of kosher wine. But what about the others? After a careful and tipsy review, I've paired some of my favorite local cocktails with these unusual days of celebration.

Rusty Robot Of all the major Christian holidays, Palm Sunday seems the least alcoholically celebrated, even though feasting is the order of the day. Why not figure in a Rusty Robot from Homestead? A combination of Wild Turkey, Tuaca, lemon, and bitters, it's perfect for vigorous consumption. The lemon flavor is as wild as the Turkey, but the drink achieves a simplicity missing from most cocktails — the tastes don't just augment one another; they smack together, almost like two palms. Get it? Homestead, 2301 Folsom, SF; (415) 282-4663.

Green Man Tea Just as we're getting over our green St. Paddy's Day hangover, we're immediately hit with St. Joseph's Day on March 19 — or more familiarly, the day the swallows return to Mission San Juan Capistrano. Bird lovers across California, rejoice! But with what? I encourage you to stick to something green-related, like Green Man Tea at Nihon Whisky Lounge; your system may not yet be ready for other colors. Made with lime and pineapple juices, green tea liquor, and single malt Scotch, this drink brings together two distinctly different flavors — the Scotch's smokiness and the other ingredients' fruity tang — to take delicious flight. Nihon Whisky Lounge, 1779 Folsom, SF; (415) 552-4400, www.nihon-sf.com.

Vieux Carre How do you raise a glass to a good April's Fools Day prank? Since only rush-hour radio hosts and nine-year-olds actually carry out pranks, you probably don't. So relax, there's no need to fuss over this "holiday." Instead, take the time to savor a fine local drink. The Vieux Carre is a version of a classic New Orleans cocktail with its amalgam of rye, cognac, and sweet vermouth. It tastes more like Manhattan in 3-D, however, than it does an Old-Fashioned, Sazerac, or Sidecar — a high-powered, cheek-parching blast. Alembic, 1725 Haight, SF; (415) 666-0822, www.alembicbar.com

Take Your Pick Few outside Massachusetts, Maine, or Wisconsin celebrate Patriot's Day, which falls on the first Monday in April. But it's a great excuse to patriotically hoist one. Head to Dimples on Post and order whatever. The mirrored-out decor and neon light overload is so dazzling that your cocktail choice won't matter — it'll be like an early Fourth of July, but indoors. Go, USA! Dimples, 1700 Post, SF; (415) 775-6688.

Blue Tokyo Come Earth Day, the Blue Tokyo at Festa Wine and Cocktails should be the perfect drink to remind you that our island cities will soon be submerged, once the sea levels rise high enough. An unfussy mix of vodka, pineapple, and Curaçao amid Festa's menu of ostentatious pear cosmos and pomegranate martinis, the drink is a useful aid to celebration — it's almost a frat house cocktail in its simplicity. It wouldn't jive at most bars, but at this kitschy lounge overlooking Webster — complete with fake skyline behind the karaoke stage — it works perfectly. Festa Wine and Cocktails, 1581 Webster, suite 207, (415) 567-5866.

Bohemian Forget the corporate beer and margarita mix branding that's attached itself to Cinco de Mayo. Do something different, dammit, and head to Blondie's Bar and No Grill in the Mission for a Bohemian.

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