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We Love the Nightlife: Whiskey and Beer Dinners

Beer and small plate pairings in Pleasanton; a huge brews festival hits Concord; sample the whiskeys of the world in Oakland; and more nightlife happenings.


With all of the noise about the Niners making it to the Super Bowl (!!), it’s easy to forget the amazing events happening this week. But don’t! Stay tuned for our Super Bowl roundup, and in the meantime, check out the nightlife events occurring before the red and gold battle the Ravens in New Orleans.


Widmer Beer Dinner

If trying to figure out which beverage pairs with what meat leaves you panicked, head over to Handles Gastropub tonight. The pub will take the guesswork out of pairing with a small plate pairings with Widmer Bros. beer. The pub will offer five different beers and the small bites that pair best with each. Tickets can be purchased at Handles, and there will be a home brew kit giveaway and live brewing demonstration. $20, Thursday, January 24, 6 p.m., 855 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 399-6690, website.


The Brewing Network’s Winter Brews Festival

One of the main reasons I’m sad I’ll be out of town this weekend is the return of the Winter Brews Festival, one of my favorite beer-related events of last year. The annual festival, which also has a spring iteration, returns to Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza this Saturday, bringing a ton of brewers along with it. Expect beers from more than 35 different breweries ranging from 21st Amendment to Triple Rock, including a special collaboration beer from Drake’s and Stone Brewing revealed just for the occasion. Last year’s live bands killed it, and there’s plenty of food for sale to stave off the stomach grumbles. Come early to beat the lines, which tend to stretch far away from the more popular breweries, but late birds can sometimes snag heavier pours from the last few looking to unload their stock before packing up. Sample to your heart’s content—tickets include unlimited pours, and a commemorative glass for the first 500 attendees. Saturday, January 26, 12–4 p.m., $35 in advance, $40 at the gate, designated drivers free, Todos Santos Plaza, Concord, website.


Winter Brews After-Party

If you still haven’t had enough beer by the time the Winter Brews Festival wraps up, walk on over to Concord’s Ale Industries to keep the party going. The brewery is hosting an after party for festival attendees, kicking off at 4:30 p.m. Local band Muncie will be providing the tunes, and Yummi BBQ will dish out Asian-style barbecue to quell those cravings. Come with your wristband or commemorative glass from the festival, and you’ll be rewarded with a special taproom deal. Saturday, January 26, 4:30 p.m., 975 Detroit Ave., Unit E., Concord, website.


The First Base burgerWhiskies of the World at Hopscotch

Named after chef Kyle Itani’s love of hops and scotch, it’s no surprise Hopscotch will play host to a Whiskies of the World Dinner featuring an impressive spread of highly regarded scotches and whiskeys. This Monday, stop by the cozy Oakland spot for a four-course paired menu, which features dishes such as smoked kanpachi crudo with black Spanish radish and citrus soy, duck confit terrine, and the now infamous beef tongue burger. Alongside, you’ll have the opportunity to try half-ounce pours of spirits ranging from Glenkinchie 12 year to the ultra-rare Royal Lochnagar DE, one of only 18 bottles in Northern California. And it gets better. Senior Master of Whiskey and prestigious spirits judge Steve Beal, who selected the whiskies, will preside of the whole affair. Grab tickets now before they sell out. $80, Monday, January 28, 6 p.m., 1915 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, (510) 788-6217, website.


National Pisco Sour Day

I know, it seems like every other day is national [insert drink here] day, but this February, I agree it’s high time we celebrate pisco. First, how many people actually know what pisco is? Outside of the rare Pisco Sour, most people haven’t had much interaction with the Peruvian spirit, which is actually a light colored brandy. Let’s change that. On February 1, a number of San Francisco bars are offering specials in honor of the cocktail. If you’d rather make your own, try this recipe from Rose Pistola’s Enrique Sanchez:

  • 1 ¾ parts Portón Pisco
  • ¾ part fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ part Darbo Elderflower Syrup
  • ½ part Averna
  • ½ part egg white
  • Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously without ice. After dry shake, add ice and shake all ingredients again. Shake contents over a martini glass. Garnish with 1 mint leaf and a dash of Angostura bitters.

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