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This Valentine’s Day, Maybe Just Skip Dinner and Drink Cutty Bangs at the Park Instead

Save the fancy dinner for another day and come up with an anti-Valentine’s Day plan that’s all your own

Lauren Saria
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

The Move is a place for Eater’s editors and writers to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move.

Far be it for me to tell you what to do with your Valentine’s Day, but I’ve always found the pressure of the day to be ridiculous. Romance shouldn’t equate to any, single heteronormative expectation, an overly-expensive event that far too often ends up being either stressful or disappointing depending on what side of the planning you’re on. Let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day can be frustrating, whether you are in a couple or not, and it all too easily alienates others and their various, potentially complicated relationships.

And while supporting local restaurants is essential, if you’re still scrambling to find dinner reservations on the second-worst day to book a table for Valentine’s Day — bested only by looking for a reservation on the day itself — perhaps it’s better to cut yourself some slack and make a dinner plan for a different day.

Instead, consider an alternate plan for your Valentine’s Day fun, one that sidesteps the candy hearts and cards: Grab a couple of cutty bangs and make it a different sort of night, one that’s not buttoned up and built on fragile expectations. Cutty bangs, for the uninitiated, are essentially disassembled cocktails in a handy plastic baggie. The bags come filled with mini liquor bottles, much like those found on planes, and mixers, often with a catchy name scrawled on the plastic, for purchasers to assemble on their own — and off-premise, of course, though liquor store purveyors often provide an empty cup and some ice in which to enjoy your DIY drink.

After all, cutty bangs are a San Francisco tradition, both the search for those oddly-named drinks and the act of gleefully pouring the bottles into that cup of ice before tossing the evidence into a nearby trash can and walking away. Mr. Liquor on Valencia Street is by far the most popular option given its proximity to Dolores Park, but there are other spots sprinkled throughout the city worth researching and seeking out. It’s all part of the cutty bangs adventure, one I won’t ruin here.

So grab some friends or a partner and head to a park. Laugh or shake your head at the cutty bang names you saw at the store — they’re almost always sorta dirty, like “” or head-scratching, like “Swag Berry.” Talk about the deep things in life or the latest show you’re bingeing. The point isn’t to get wasted (or maybe it is, who am I to say) but to engage in a little counterculture. It’s the antidote for all things overly hyped. And if you’re sober, that’s fine too because the real lesson here is not to get too bogged down by any holiday, especially one like this. Make a dish with extra garlic. Get spinach in your teeth. Wear the shirt you never wear out. The point is Valentine’s Day isn’t for lovers, it’s for whatever you want.