Why does the warmer weather make us want to go out and have a drink? I know many of us are feeling this way as temperatures begin to climb. It is because exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm, which makes it easy to socialize. And also because we have been cooped up inside all winter and we are ready to mingle with people and be in a new atmosphere other than our home. Well, when you are in sunny San Diego, California, it is always idyllic drinking weather. “America’s Finest City” is known for its miles and miles of beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean, a world-renowned zoo and some of our favorite cocktail bars.
False Idol- Hidden within Craft & Commerce lies San Diego’s first fully immersive Tiki bar in Little Italy. Once inside Craft & Commerce, look for the large stainless steel door on the side of the main bar. As you open the door, you will think you have entered a walk-in cooler as you pass crates of pineapples and citrus fruit and jars with fake skulls and human heads. Next, you will pass water cascading down a rock wall, which also shoots flames and fireballs. Then, the room opens up to a dim bar which is brightened by the colorful decor. When you look up at the ceiling, you will be mesmerized by hundreds of colorful glass buoys that hang in a vintage fishing net. The walls are covered with elaborate wood carvings by artist Bosko Hrnjak. The bar itself is a glass case filled with memorabilia that honors and celebrates San Diego’s colorful Tiki past. Choose from 36 exotic tropical drinks from “Light and Crisp” to “Decadent and Dessert Like”. Stick to the classics or try a modern tiki interpretations. Beware of the cocktails that are “exceptionally strong” with triple the alcohol.
Raised By Wolves- You may not expect one of the World’s Best Bars to be in a shopping mall, but Raised By Wolves is making the mall cool again by bringing well-made cocktails to the suburbs. When you step into the space you will be physically transformed from a contemporary, suburban shopping center in La Jolla into the 19th Century European bar scene. The store front resembles those that border cobblestone streets in busy European cities. As you enter through beautiful blue doors, you will find yourself in the retail store that features rare bottles that range from extravagant to economical, luxury barware and books. Once you are done browsing, make your way to the fireplace where a host will welcome you to spin through the rotating fireplace to enter the hidden bar, which resembles a dimly lit, grand French library that feels lush and cozy but mysterious at the same time. The decor is French Art Nouveau inspired, enduring antique craftsmanship. The main bar in the center of a circular room is a beautiful, antique-style brass gazebo with a fountain in the middle. The stained glass on the ceiling mimics the sun’s glow from dawn to dusk. Books line the walls and lavish chairs await to be filled by customers. Enjoy a drink from the highly curated cocktail list and then make it at home. On the way out, guests could purchase the ingredients needed to make their signature cocktails at home in the retail shop.
Polite Provisions- If you are in North Park and you see a neon sign above a store front that reads “Prescription Drugs, Tonics” you should go in. Inside you will find an outstanding cocktail bar that gives off an old apothecary vibe with ornately tiled floors, old street lamps lining the bar and lanterns as centerpieces to light each table. Polite Provisions is an ode to the extinct neighborhood institution that is the neighborhood drug store and soda fountain, before big box retailers drove these off Main Street America. The inspiration was to focus on bitters, soda pop, tinctures and syrups as a nod to those ingredients’ medical use. The menu showcases nearly 50 cocktails from “Stirred and Direct” to “Rich and Creamy” to “Tropical Vibes”. We like to order from the “Cocktails from the Crew” section, which features unique cocktails made by individual staff members. The menu even includes a little sketch of the bartender’s face next to his or her cocktail creation. On tap, you will find craft beer, craft soda, draft cocktails and even a few select spirits. Polite Provisions also offers cocktail classes to help you perfect your craft.
Kettner Exchange- This award winning architectural design pays homage to San Diego founding father, William Kettner, and is filled with subtle nods to the city’s great bay and nautical history. You will marvel at the two levels of beautifully designed indoor and outdoor dining and drinking experience. As you walk in, you will notice every thoughtful detail throughout the dynamic space including a beautifully crafted arched wooden ceiling, plush leather booths, different styles of unique wooden seating, darkened mirror and metal walls and ceilings, even a large bundle of tree branches suspending from the second story down through the ceiling of the first floor. The open-air rooftop patio is one of the best lounges in the city to enjoy a uniquely crafted cocktail, thanks to its nearly unobstructed views of San Diego Bay. Hang out at any of the cozy areas including the fire pit, hanging bed or even a private cabana with your own beer tap.
Lumi- High energy, high end and high up, this rooftop bar will envelop you in its vibrant atmosphere. It is filled with colorful art and modern design elements combined with traditional Japanese architecture. It features a backdrop of city views and all seats in open air. Eclectic patterns cover the floor and chairs. Three dimensional art pieces and bright wall hangings will captivate your eye. There are elements of nature with live greenery overhead and a bar made of granite boulders. It is truly a sight to see. Their signature cocktails are just as electrifying. They have an extensive sake list, including flights, and even a Toki Highball machine.
Next time you are out in San Diego, give these places a visit and let us know what you think. Check back to see where we go next!