Can one person drink at every bar in San Francisco?

Farmers Market Cocktail Night: Summer Savory

Recently I went to a savory cocktail tasting hosted by CUESA. Most of the details are pretty blurry, it being a cocktail tasting, but it was one of those fantastic nights that makes me grateful I live in San Francisco. The event featured drinks and snacks from some of the best bars in town, and my friends and I had a fabulous evening of sipping and nibbling our way through all of the offerings. The best part was chatting with the members of the bartenders guild who were crafting our libations. It’s fun to talk shop with people who are as obsessed with well made cocktails as I am.

The most controversial drink of the night was a lamb infused cocktail that also featured artichoke liqueur and a lamb sausage and radish garnish. I noticed that a good percentage of people left that drink unfinished which kind of boggled my mind. (Rude! Also, it was free booze!)

My favorite hors d’oeuvres were the pickled egg crustinis from Comstock Saloon. I adore fancy pants versions of old man bar food.

My favorite drinks were the ones offered by Bourbon and Branch and Smuggler’s Cove. Because they were the last tables we visited, I don’t have any recollection of what was actually in the cocktails, but I remember them being a delight.

If you would like to get your mind blown by what serious bartenders can do with fresh local produce, join CUESA’s email list and get tickets to the next tasting they host. It’s absolutely worth it.


6 responses

  1. By now, I’m sure you’ve come across Nirvino ( It’s basically meetup + free drinks. They do something once a month at a different bar, and it might be a way for you to get into non-college-budget friendly bars on the cheap.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:34 am

  2. Sean C.

    Gotta be completely honest that, well, first off, like you: Free Booze = Never leave unfinished. That said, even back in my pre-vegan days, the notion of a “lamb infused cocktail” makes my stomach turn. I would have never said yes to one to begin with. So I’d never leave it unfinished. (Guilt & etiquette faux pas avoided.)

    But question: Does “lamb infused cocktail” mean there’s more to it than just that lamb sausage? Meaning, does it actually lamb’s blood? That would be a bit too “True Blood” banquet for my tastes. If it *is* just the lamb sausage: WTF, people? Literally suck it up! 😉

    July 15, 2010 at 11:34 am

    • I think I heard them say lamb neck? But that could be totally wrong. I had already had quite a few tastings by that point, and I didn’t ask the bartender directly. They did offer a vegetarian version, but people still got the meat one and didn’t finish it.

      July 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm

  3. I drank all of the lamb cocktail! I tried both the lamb-filled and the vegetarian option and there was definitely a much deeper flavor in the lamby one. There was actually a fair amount of meat-infused booze at that night.

    I liked the smuggler’s cove one (I hear it won best of the night), but it was SWEET, which seemed out of place for a savory event.

    Man, that night was inspiring. Cucmber and fennel juice. Yum.

    July 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    • The issue I had with most of the drinks is actually that they didn’t use any sugar at all. I liked that my favorites used savory ingredients but also added sugar to bring out the flavors and make the drink more balanced. Many of the drinks tasted sharp (for lack of a better word) to me and needed either sugar or salt.

      July 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm

  4. Honestly, the Smuggler’s Cove Cabaret Cooler was my least favorite. It saddens me because I’m a big fan of their more savory cocktails, like the Norwegian Paralysis. This one tasted like salty pickled plums and punch. eh.

    My favorites were the Sherman Breakdown and Jaguar Sun

    July 16, 2010 at 10:51 am

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