This May dozens of San Francisco’s top bartenders threw 22 events hosted in 20 bars over eight days, which were attended by droves of thirsty people. This was the third year of San Francisco Cocktail Week and the event continues to grow.
The celebration was anchored by large cocktail parties at the beginning and end of the week. In between were the United States Bartenders’ Guild National Mixology Contest, a happy hour social beneath the Bay Bridge, and a farmer’s market cocktail event where the city’s best bartenders sliced, diced, muddled and juiced California’s fresh produce into equally fresh cocktails.
On Saturday afternoon, the celebration went on the road for a historical cocktail crawl through the North Beach section of San Francisco. People on the tour stopped into five bars with some historical significance, including the site of the invention of the Pisco Punch cocktail, SF’s first brewpub, and a bar that was formerly made from a beached ship during the Gold Rush.
Beyond the liquid history lesson, other forms of education were a large focus of the week. Bartenders taught courses during “bar school” day on their areas of expertise- literary cocktails, homemade ingredients, Latin spirits, Barbary Coast Cocktails and other topics. These proved very popular with the populace, and several sold out.
Outside of the special events, residents were encouraged to stop in to participating bars all over town for two specialty drinks at each site: a classic cocktail and a bartender’s signature update of the same. The drinks were meant to connect the brilliant cocktails of the past with the cutting-edge mixology found the Bay Area today – just like Cocktail Week itself.