Table Talk: All Kinds of Tastings and Alfresco Events Around the Bay

The Saratoga is known for its excellent craft cocktails and spirits collection.  (Ed Anderson)

This week’s Table Talk features a pinot noir and pork party, a special Calistoga AVA wine tasting, where to find a fantastic happy hour with $5 cocktails and bites, a unique outdoor event in West Marin featuring ballet and a farm-to-table dinner, and a summertime farmers’ market cocktail event in Oakland.

There’s a reason the ‘Toga Tots are named after The Saratoga: they’re delicious.
There’s a reason the ‘Toga Tots are named after The Saratoga: they’re delicious. (Ed Anderson)

Where to Find One of the Best Happy Hour Deals in Town

The Saratoga
1000 Larkin St., San Francisco

The Saratoga has just introduced not one but two new happy hour programs. The first is a more traditional kind of happy hour, but the deal feels like 2001 prices: Monday–Friday, come by from 5pm–6pm for five different cocktails and five dishes for just $5 each, inspired by the book The Gentleman’s Companion, by Charles H. Baker. There’s Remember the Maine, made with rye, sweet vermouth, cherry heering, and absinthe, and $5 bites like the ‘Toga Tots with Fiscalini cheddar and chorizo, shishito peppers with cherry tomato and miso glaze, and seven-spice chicken or cheeseburger sliders.

If you’re a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon fan, or you’ve just always wanted to taste it, you’ll want to come by for Pappy Days on Monday nights. Barman Brandon Clements and his team spent the last 10 years collecting one of the largest spirits libraries in the United States, and Van Winkle’s bourbons are widely considered the best in the world. You’ll get to taste through many vintages of this highly sought-after whiskey at a deep discount every Monday night. Be sure to pick up a Pappy Pass, and taste your way through all seven vintages (from 10-year to 25-year) to earn a free dinner for two (not to exceed $200).

Pork and pinot lovers won’t want to miss High on the Hog at EPIC Steak.
Pork and pinot lovers won’t want to miss High on the Hog at EPIC Steak. (Courtesy of EPIC Steak)

An Afternoon of Pork and Pinot Noir and More

EPIC Steak
369 The Embarcadero South, San Francisco
Sunday, July 1, 1pm–4pm
$85 per person
Tickets/info

Sponsored

Pig and pinot noir are usually a crowd-pleasing combo, which is why EPIC Steak is now on their tenth year of hosting their annual High on the Hog event. Enjoy a Sunday afternoon of tasting pinot noir along with porky gourmet eats on the restaurant’s bayside patio flanking the San Francisco waterfront. Executive chef Parke Ulrich will be joined by notable Bay Area restaurants and barbeque masters (like Cathead’s BBQ and Baby Blues BBQ), while EPIC Steak wine director Petra Polakovicova has assembled a lineup of pinot noirs from award-winning wineries (including Copain, Twomey, and Hanzell), and craft beer tastings from local breweries will also be available.

The event will feature a watermelon eating contest, as well as live music by local band The Mighty Creatures of Habit, and a surprise guest. A percentage of event proceeds will be donated to Guide Dogs for the Blind, and guests can put down that wine glass and play with the puppies in training!

It’s hard to imagine a more-beautiful backdrop for a ballet than the rolling hills of West Marin.
It’s hard to imagine a more-beautiful backdrop for a ballet than the rolling hills of West Marin. (Steven Smith)

A Night of West Marin Beauty (Including Food and a View!) and Ballet

QuintEssence
Big Mesa Farm, 280 Mesa Road, West Marin
July 6–8 and 13–15
Tickets: $200, available at JuliaAdamDance.com.

A big reason why we live in the Bay Area is access to unique experiences and nature and great food and ingredients, and this upcoming event in beautiful West Marin covers all the bases. Julia Adam Dance is presenting QuintEssence, the fifth installment in an elemental series, blending open-air ballet atop the expansive Big Mesa Farmstead in West Marin, paired with a gourmet and locally sourced farm-to-table meal. The team of chefs/contributors includes Matt Roberts (Jardinière), Matt Elias (Salt Water, The Bodega), Miriam Blachman (Chez Panisse, Cannard Farm), Tu David Phu (Black Cat, Gather, Top Chef), Kyle Swain (Jardinière, El Paseo), Huw Thornton (A16, SPQR), Zak Wardle (Boccalone), Aaron Lucich (Holistic Ag), Guido Frosini (True Grass Farms), and a special paella course by former San Francisco Ballet dancer Ruben Martin.

At QuintEssence, an alfresco dinner will highlight local ingredients.
At QuintEssence, an alfresco dinner will highlight local ingredients. (Steven Smith)

This year’s QuintEssence explores the ethereal fifth element in the context of LOVE. Choreographer and former San Francisco Ballet principal Julia Adam and her corps of elite dancers will be joined by renowned former San Francisco Ballet ballerina Joanna Berman, who is coming out of retirement for the event.

Each evening starts with a multi-course, family-style feast, with wines from Enkidu, and beers and non-alcoholic options curated by Mojo. After dinner, guests gather with steaming cups of sipping chocolate and make their way to the open-air stage for the world premiere of the ballet. It has all the makings of a night to remember.

At Calistoga Uncorked, you’ll taste top wines from thirty Calistoga winegrowers.
At Calistoga Uncorked, you’ll taste top wines from thirty Calistoga winegrowers. (Chloe Jackman Photography)

Enjoy a “Top of Napa Valley” Wine Tasting at Calistoga Uncorked

Golden Gate Club
135 Fisher Loop, Presidio, San Francisco
Thursday, July 12 (4pm–7:30pm)
Tickets: $75 advance or $95 at the door.

The second annual Calistoga Uncorked returns to San Francisco on July 12, featuring thirty Calistoga winegrowers offering a tasting experience of hard-to-find Calistoga AVA wines, many that produce fewer than 1,000 cases annually, and do not have tasting rooms or retail locations (and there’s the bonus opportunity to buy select bottles on the spot!). There will also be cheeses, charcuterie, and specialty sweet treats to accompany the tasting. There’s even a silent auction featuring unique and exclusive Calistoga experiences, from tastings to overnight stays. Last year’s event sold out, so don’t delay on getting tickets.

Participating wineries include: 2880, Amici Cellars, August Briggs, Baldacci Vineyards, Ballentine Vineyards, Barlow Vineyards, Bennett Lane Winery, Bragg Vineyards, Canard Vineyard, Chateau de Vie, Chateau Montelena, Coqueral Wine Estate, Fairwinds Estate Winery, Hindsight Vineyards, Huge Bear Wines, Jack Brooks Vineyard, Jax Vineyards, Jericho Canyon Vineyard, Kenefick Ranch Vineyards, Knighton Family Vineyards, La Sirena Wine, Lava Vine/Von Strasser, Next Door wines, Poggi Wines, Phifer Pavitt Wine, Romeo Vineyards, Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Switchback Ridge, The Grade Cellars, Tom Eddy Winery, Weppler Vineyards.

You’ll hear the music of the cocktail shaker at this Oakland happy hour event.
You’ll hear the music of the cocktail shaker at this Oakland happy hour event. (Amanda Lynn Photography)

Party Under the Palms: Summer Cocktails of the Farmers Market in Oakland

Wednesday, August 1, (5:30pm–8pm)
Jack London Square Palm Plaza (Embarcadero at Webster Street), Oakland
Tickets: early bird $40 (while supplies last), general admission $45, last minute $50

The second annual Oakland edition of CUESA and the United States Bartenders Guild’s popular Cocktails of the Farmers Market series is on Wednesday August 1. You’ll be able to unwind under the palm trees at Jack London Square with craft cocktails featuring stone fruit, melons, berries, tomatoes, and other peak-season produce from the Jack London Square Farmers Market shaken and stirred by East Bay bartenders (like from the Hotsy Totsy, Starline Social Club, and Copper Spoon).

Taste your way through some fabulous cocktails at Cocktails of the Farmers Market.
Taste your way through some fabulous cocktails at Cocktails of the Farmers Market. (Amanda Lynn Photography)

Sponsored

During this outdoor happy hour party on Palm Plaza, guests receive four full-sized signature cocktails featuring Jack Daniels, Maestro Dobel Tequila, Pernod Ricard, and Writer's Tears Irish Whiskey, along with unlimited sample-size drinks. There are also some dinner options (to purchase) from restaurants and food trucks, so you won’t be drinking on an empty stomach.

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