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San Francisco Cocktail Week Returns to Shine a Spotlight on the AAPI Bar Community

Prominent bartender Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven and Kona’s Street Market is reviving the event for AAPI Heritage Month

Pacific Cocktail Haven Pacific Cocktail Haven
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

It’s been more than a decade since San Francisco hosted a cocktail week event, but as of next month, that dry spell will come to an end. From May 8 through 11, a handful of bars across the city and region will participate in the first-ever AAPI Cocktail Week, a more narrowly focused cocktail event being organized not quite (but almost) entirely by well-known San Francisco bartender and owner Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven and Kona’s Street Market.

Diedrich says he only got the idea to revive San Francisco’s Cocktail Week about four weeks ago but wanted to align the event with AAPI Heritage Month in May, which didn’t leave all that much time for planning. He says this year’s event will focus on a smaller number of thoughtfully planned events, with the aim to expand the event’s footprint by next spring. “I was like, this would be a great opportunity for us as a whole,” Diedrich says, “not just San Francisco, but the Bay Area, to be able to pull together and highlight and share.”

Kevin Diedrick at Abaca
Melissa de Mata

The four-day celebration will include a number of events — a mix of industry-focused educational opportunities and public-facing events intended to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander ingredients, cocktails, and cuisine. To kick things off, bartenders and other industry folks can attend a Free Pour or Die Educational Industry Event taught by Cache Bouren of Haberdasher and Cash Only in San Jose, which will be hosted at Kona’s Street Market on Monday, May 8.

Also on Monday, fans can look forward to a powerhouse collaboration dinner at contemporary Filipino restaurant Abaca starring food from Abaca chef Francis Ang and Viridan bar director William Tsui. On Tuesday back at Kona’s, Los Angeles bar Thunderbolt will do a takeover, followed by a takeover on Wednesday by Phoenix bar KHLA. The week wraps up on Thursday with a party at Kona’s that will bring together 10 yet-to-be-announced bars from across the Bay Area, Diedrich says. A portion of the sales from tickets for the wrap party will go to not-for-profit Hospitality of Asians and Pacific Islanders, which supports members of the AAPI community that have chosen to work in hospitality.

It’s taken a lot of “stress and anxiety” to get the event off the ground in such a short amount of time, Diedrich says, but the opportunity to highlight the rich diversity of the cocktail scene in the Bay Area, which has some of the densest AAPI communities in the country, makes it worthwhile. “And as soon as we’re done with this we’ll start planning for next year,” he says.

Tickets for events including the Abaca-Viridian collaboration dinner($200) and wrap party ($200) will go on sale on Monday, April 24 — keep an eye on the SF AAPI Cocktail Week Instagram for more updates.