Cocktails

'A' for effort?

Don't judge new bar Novela by its gorgeous cover

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culture@sfbg.com

COCKTAILS Novela, the new literary-themed lounge in SoMa, is undoubtedly beautiful: plenty of window light pours in during the evening, highlighting tall black shelves packed full of color-coordinated books. The space, a collaboration between acclaimed bar stars Alex Smith and Kate Bolton, is littered with huge, cozy reading chairs as well as low comfy couches.

But my friend and I just somehow felt out of place.Read more »

Foggy holiday

A memorable barcrawl to Blarney Stone, Trick Dog, and Blackbird

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Friendly spirits

Carry a small snake and an appetite for drink to the new Southside Spirits House in SoMa

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culture@sfbg.com

COCKTAILS In San Francisco, there's a bar for practically every situation. Feeling high-class yet mysterious? Bourbon and Branch is right up your alley. Colorful and trendy? Go to Trick Dog. If you need to drown your sorrows in the dark, there are plenty of dive bars ready to pour you a heavy-handed drink.

But if you're just looking for a well-made cocktail in friendly spot after work, let me introduce you to Southside Spirit House, the newest bar to hit SoMa.Read more »

Appetite: 10 best spirits launched in 2012

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Each year holds a range of interesting spirits released from around the globe. As the craft spirit industry continues to explode, there were many exciting newcomers this year. Here are some of the best of what's crossed my desk in 2012.

FORD's GIN ($27)The 86 Company is a new venture from spirits and cocktail world stars Simon Ford (former International Brand Ambassador for Plymouth Gin), Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric (owners of New York's Employees Only bar, authors of Speakeasy). Just last month, they released Caña Brava Rum (a Panama rum, aged 3 years), Aylesbury Duck Vodka, and Ford's Gin. It's the gin I've been mixing with at home in every kind of cocktail from a basic gin and tonic to complex Ramos Gin Fizz.

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Cocktales

Notes from the Oscars of beveraging

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virginia@sfbg.com

FOOD AND DRINK It was another humid, sweltering year at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. The world's biggest cocktail event drew thousands of attendees July 25-29 for a week of nonstop tastings, seminars, and parties in the great queen of the South.Read more »

Appetite: Going Big at another menu-less bar

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This week in the paper, Virginia Miller reviewed menu-less wonderbar Rio Grande. Below, her review of a second custom drink haven.

Big's name is somewhat of an oxymoron. This cozy space from the crew behind Jones is a mere few seats and when the bar is full at around 20-25 people, be prepared to wait at the door until space clears (they will text you when it does). After multiple visits, I continue to find the bar staffed by the talented Brian Felley (previously at Fleur de Lys and Garcon), a barback and one other bartender, Mo, who is recently here from burgeoning cocktail town Denver, having worked at the Squeaky Bean. Similar to the aforementioned Library Bar, there's a small herb and produce spread here, while both bartenders are quite  adept at assessing preferences, taking time to craft you "just the thing."

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3 spring cocktail trends

Sip on this season's haute new libations, from wine cocktails to fizzy bottled daiquiris 

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Spring imparts new life and lush green after winter rains. It also ushers in a glut of new cocktail menus, emphasizing the best produce of the season and exciting new trends.Read more »

Attention: Tiny book in your newspaper (Feast is here!)

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Our bi-yearly Feast food and drink magazine hit newsstands today, so strap up your sneaks and step out because you have a lot of dining around to do. Read more »

15 lipsmacking cocktails for $5 and under

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Screw on your drinking hats, cheapos -- we tracked down 15 watering holes that'll leave you toasted, in a financially stable kind of way. 

1. Tempest Bar’s $5 boilermaker

A shot of Jim Beam in a pint of PBR. Is this a terrible idea? Yes. Should you do it anyways? Yes. 

431 Natoma. (415) 495-1863 Read more »

Whiskey punch

Concannon toasts its new Irish whiskey with a good scrap in the Mission and a round of spiked coffee in Livermore

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE An Irish whiskey with a Bay Area connection... Livermore, to be exact? It's true. January saw the release of a brand new whiskey, not a common occurrence in Ireland. What better way to initiate this new release than with a Bon Vivants party?

My recent travels through Ireland, particularly exploring whiskey production in County Cork (from pot still beauties like Redbreast to mass production Jameson), amplified my love for the smooth pleasures of Irish whiskey.Read more »