Last night marked the opening gala of the third annual San Francisco Cocktail Week celebration -- a week in which Bay Area barmeisters mix and mingle with mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts from around the nation. The fest includes multiple tasting events around town, education seminars for professional and amateur mixologists alike, a national bartending competition, and lots and lots of drinking. (See full skedge after the jump.)

For those who aren't aware, San Francisco has become the arguable center for the culinary cocktail movement -- both due to the bounty of seasonal ingredients at the ready disposal of local bartenders, and due to the concentration of great restaurants where sophisticated cocktail menus have become the norm. While New York venues like Milk & Honey and the Rainbow Room may have helped popularize a return to classic, pre-Prohibition-era cocktail culture, San Francisco bartenders from places like Bix, Enrico's Sidewalk Café, Bruno's, and Absinthe have gone on to write books and influence cocktail culture far beyond the immediate Bay Area.