Great Deal in Wine Country: A Taste of Napa

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Festival del Sole
Next month, Festival del Sole serves up a sweet roster of events: food and wine tastings (something of a driving force for the region), music, dance and even yoga in the vineyards. For star power, Sophia Loren is booked for an event celebrating her son Carlo Ponti as he introduces his new chamber orchestra. The 9th annual festival runs from July 11 to 20 and has one food and wine event in particular that screams "yay, big value!"

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Pied Piper Returns to Palace Hotel Bar

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Palace Hotel
The painting that spans 16 feet long by six feet deep is valued at $3 to $5 million.
After public outcry and six months of restoration, Maxfield Parish's The Pied Piper of Hamelin is back at the Palace Hotel for good.

The Pied Piper became the center of attention in March after hotel owners wanted to put the painting that is valued at $3 to $5 million on auction at Christie's in New York. The Pied Piper has been a part of the Palace Hotel for more than 100 years.

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Where to Find Drinking Vinegar in San Francisco

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Pok Pok
Honey Pok Pok Som drinking vinegar is available at Bi-Rite Market.
Vinegar-based syrups (or shrubs) have been chic on bar menus around town for more than a few years, a secret acidic weapon to punch up a cocktail. But the syrup itself is gaining ground in the non-alcoholic world for use with soda and sparkling water. It's typically known as drinking vinegar. Often sweetened with fructose or honey, these drinking vinegars are a far cry from pinching your nose as you chug some cider vinegar in hopes of a health boost.

Bi-Rite Market carries Pok Pok Som drinking vinegar from Portland's famed Pok Pok Thai restaurant, where it's used as an alcoholic mixer and a club soda-based drink. Bi-Rite carries a 16-ounce bottle that's infused with clover honey, but the online shop features flavors that haven't made it down to San Francisco yet, such as pomegranate and tamarind.

Nippon Ya in Japantown imports 7-ounce bottles of drinking vinegar in sweet varieties like apple and pineapple that are infused with fruit juice. When mixed with sparkling water, these taste less like a "health tonic" and more like a novelty drink than Som (though Pok Pok makes no such claims on vitality).

See Also:
- Lev's Debuts Kombucha Vinegar

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Hey, Honey: There's a Drink Called Artisanal Lemonade

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Hey, Honey!
Don't let the artisanal tag dissuade you.
The descriptor of "artisanal lemonade" put us off trying the Bay Area-made Hey, Honey! for the past few months that it has been available at local markets like Rainbow Grocery and Other Avenues. C'mon, we thought, even lemonade is now artisanal? How much more handmade can something be than to squeeze a lemon in your hand?

See Also:
- How To Buy Artisanal Ice Cream

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35 Champagnes in 3 Hours at Arlequin's Bubbly Tasting

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Arlequin Wine Champagne Tasting
Where: Arlequin Wine Merchant, 384 Hayes (at Gough), 863-1104
When: Thurs., Dec. 6th; 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Cost: $65 per person; pay at the door

The Rundown: We love our booze. Cocktails? Certainly. Wine? Uh huh. Beer? Sure. While we enjoy all those equally, it's sparkling wine we love the most. It has versatility, variety, bubbles, pairs well with most food, and you can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you were stuck on a desert isle, and you had a stash of sparkling wine, you'd just call it vacation.

See Also:
- Is Your Champagne Unworthy of a Toast? Turn It into Cocktails
- New Champagnes by Mo√ęt & Chandon


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San Francisco is Home to Two of the Oldest Bars in the U.S.: Can You Guess Which Ones?

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flickr/SullyStyle
The Saloon
As far as booze-related, hands-on historical homework goes, the fact that San Francisco contains two of the top ten oldest bars in the United States could radically transform even the most uninterested students into students bursting with eagerness and a real thirst for knowledge. We went to check 'em out and report back to the class.

See also:
- Sprouted Rye at Bar Tartine
- Top 8 Outdoor Bars in San Francisco
- Drinking at Upcider, S.F.'s First Cider Bar


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Tonight: Herb Caen Honored With Martini Competition

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Wikimedia Commons/Uyvsdi
2nd Annual Herb Caen Martini Competition

Where: Bottle Cap, 1707 Powell (at Union), 529-2237
When: Tues., Nov. 13, 6-7:30 p.m.
Cost: $5 (purchase in advance via Eventbrite)/$10 at the door

The rundown: This contest pays tribute to the late, great Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, who loved a stiff drink as much as he loved, well, some other pursuits. "Martinis are like breasts," begins a famous Caen quote. "One isn't enough, and three is too many."

See Also:
- We Tried the Three-Martini Lunch at Park Tavern and Lived to Tell the Tale

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Drinking at Upcider, S.F.'s First Cider Bar

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Anna Roth
American craft cider has been enjoying something of a Renaissance these days -- a market once dominated by UK imports like Magners and Strongbow now has plenty of stateside competition. It was only a matter of time before someone dreamed up a bar devoted entirely to cider, and a few months ago it became a reality: S.F.'s first cider bar, Upcider, opened in Polk Gulch.

See Also:
- Beer of the Week: Cascade Figaro Sour Ale
- On Finding Real Apple Cider


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Tags:

cider, Upcider

Ryan Scott Guest Bartends for New TV Series and Charity

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3-Sum Eats
Ryan Scott is returning to food television.
Ryan Scott, Top Chef alum and proprietor of Market & Rye restaurants and the 3-Sum Eats food truck, is set to film an episode of his forthcoming television series Food Rush while guest bartending at Jardiniere from 6-8 p.m. on July 18.

Scott has created the Balsamic Berry cocktail ($9) for the occasion, a mix of gin, strawberries, lime juice, champagne, and secret ingredients; we'll go ahead and assume balsamic vinegar is one of them, but there could be almost anything else when considering it's from the mind of a chef who puts Funyons in roast beef sandwiches and turns root beer floats into Twinkies.

Proceeds from Balsamic Berry sales will be donated to Scott's new non-profit organization Harvest of the Heart. Food Rush debuts on Live Well Network on September 10.

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Whiskey & Waxing Contest Seeks SF's Best Beards and Mustaches

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Alison Pebworth
Freshly sculpted facial hair at the YBCA event
Where: Comstock Saloon, 155 Columbus (at Kearny), 617-0071

When: Mon., August 15, 7 p.m. contestant registration, competition at 8 p.m.

Cost: $5 Boothby cocktails, sidecars, and tastes of St. George Single Malt Whiskey

The rundown: Most contests like to measure attributes like wits, might, courage, or speed, but San Francisco-based artist Chris Sollars along with Comstock Saloon are hosting an usual competition to find a hirsute hero to set the standard for facial hair.

Whiskey & Waxing is described as an event "celebrating local hairy talent on the old Barbary Coast." Winning requires not only facial hair form, but also the ability to sip whiskey or tea. The gauntlet has been thrown!

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