December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010
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Almost there: Enoteca Molinari (photo from the website).

Oakland is gaining not one but two new wine bars. First, in a slightly tough-sounding Oakland fashion, is ~THE PUNCHDOWN~, now open in the former Franklin Square Wine Bar space in Uptown. The project is from co-managers D.C. Looney and Lisa Costa, who both have extensive backgrounds in the wine industry. Their focus is on “high-quality, small production, naturally made wines at extremely affordable prices,” ranging from $5-$16 for a glass, with the opportunity to also purchase wine by the carafe, and of course, the bottle. There will also be some simple offerings like charcuterie, meat and cheese plates, some small plates, and larger homey entrées. Inspired by their favorite wine bars and pubs around the world, they wanted to create a comfortable space for people to linger and learn about wine. The grand opening is tonight at 6pm. Hours will be Tue-Fri 12pm-9pm, Sat 5pm-10pm, closed Sun-Mon. 2212 Broadway at 22nd, Oakland, 510-251-0100.

Meanwhile, next door to À Côté in Rockridge, first-time owner Joe Madison is opening ~ENOTECA MOLINARI~, potentially by this weekend. The space is petite, with room for about 24 guests at tables and a curving bar. There will be an all-Italian wine list, with wines chosen to over-deliver on quality at an affordable price. Steve Jaramillo (the former chef of Lalime’s in Berkeley) will be running the kitchen (look for some small plates, and a few handmade pasta dishes, including a reportedly very delicious tagliatelle al ragù). Since the exact opening date is a bit tentative, call before heading over. 5474 College Ave. at Taft, Rockridge, 510-428-4078.

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San Francisco has a long history with pisco, and there’s perhaps no one who knows it better than author Guillermo Toro-Lira. And you’ll have a chance to meet and drink with him on Monday December 13th for a book signing and seminar at ~PISCO LATIN LOUNGE~. The author of Wings of Cherubs has spent a decade researching San Francisco’s original signature cocktail, the Pisco Punch, made famous by barkeeper Duncan Nicol. Toro-Lira’s new and just recently published History of Pisco in San Francisco is a scrapbook of firsthand historical documentation related to the pre-Prohibition history of Peru’s pisco brandy in San Francisco. It includes oral stories, pictures of people, places and antique objects, advertisements, newspaper clippings, letters, legal documents, old cocktail recipes, and more —much of it published for the first time. Come by from 6pm-9pm for a book signing, stories, and if you buy a copy of the book (only $20—retails for $24.99 on Amazon), you get a free pisco cocktail of your choice (sponsored by Barsol Pisco). 1817 Market St. at Octavia, 415-874-9951.

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Photo: The California Academy of Sciences.

There’s an upcoming chocolate-themed ~NIGHTLIFE~ event at the California Academy of Sciences (as many of you may know, the museum hosts an adult-only/21 and over NightLife event each Thursday with varying themes). On Thursday December 16th, there will be beverages like Bison Brew’s Chocolate Stout, and chocolaty beverages from Pisco Bar and Blue Angel Vodka. You’ll also be able to watch a truffle and ganache demonstration by the experts at La Bonne Cuisine, and indulge your sweet tooth with tastings from TCHO and other local chocolatiers. Music on the main floor will be provided by mash-up masters Adrian and Mysterious D of Bootie, and in the aquarium by Al Kal. 6pm-10pm. Tickets are $12 ($10 for members).