Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Year in Cocktails

A look back at top-notch booze, bartenders and bars of 2015


Published:

Fave new rooftop bar: The Nolen | Photo by Paul Body

Best drink I had all year: Skubic Diver at Ironside

I love a slightly savory cocktail. I love celery bitters. Named after Michael Skubic, the founder of San Diego’s Old Harbor Distilling Co., the Skubic Diver features Old Harbor’s San Miguel Southwestern Gin, St. George Basil Eau de Vie, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and celery bitters. A pinch of sea salt is the magic ingredient.

 

Fave cocktail-making duo: Jack Reynolds and Dmitri Dziensuwski at Starlite

Not to say there aren’t other amazing bartenders in San Diego, but these two guys never fail to surprise me. For Halloween, they rolled out a special four-drink menu that made use of interesting ingredients like Farigoule Thyme Liqueur and Linie Aquavit. And, in last month’s issue, I featured their latest collaboration, The Bellman, a potent combo of brandy, rye whiskey, Swedish punsch, black walnut bitters, Peychaud’s, orange zest, and a cinnamon stick garnish. I’m looking forward to seeing what these guys come up with in 2016.

 

New booze discovery: Amaro Nonino

After a fantastic dinner at Bracero (including some of Christian Siglin’s inspired cocktails), our server suggested this Northern Italian digestif. Wow. Amaros are normally bitter, but this one’s grappa-based, making it a little sweeter and smoother. I’ve yet to find a bottle in San Diego—so, let me know if you find one. And, for an Amaro Nonino cocktail, keep reading.

 

Fave new rooftop bar: The Nolen

I’ve had some bad cocktails at rooftop bars in San Diego. Like, epically bad. The Nolen—and its lead barman Robert Yumul—ends that trend. Named after John Nolen, a vanguard city planner and architect (San Diego would have looked quite different had the city just stuck to Nolen’s vision), it’s spacious, yet cozy, and offers some amazing views. The cocktail menu’s got something for everyone, from lighter drinks like #blessed (gin, Amaro Montenegro, lemon, honey) to one of my favorites, the Bronarmy Navy (bourbon, Cynar 70, lemon, orgeat, salt). Particularly impressive is the P.Y.T., a complex, barrel-aged cocktail that Yumul created for his girlfriend. She prefers gin, Yumul prefers bourbon, so he came up with a gin cocktail (London dry gin, Amaro Nonino, dry and sweet vermouth, aged 21 days) that could easily be confused for a bourbon cocktail. Try it—you’ll love it.

 

Cocktail spot on my post-holiday must-try list: Kindred

Kindred recently soft-opened in the former Alchemy location in South Park on 30th and Beech streets. It’s a can’t-go-wrong collaboration between LOVELIKEBEER (who did those great vegan pop-up meals at Sea Rocket), Arsalun Tafazoli (Consortium Holdings) and Paul Basile (Basile Studio and the guy behind the design at spots like Ironside, Polite Provisions and Soda and Swine). Kory Stetina told San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson that Kindred will be a “badass cocktail bar that serves vegan food” and he’s tapped David Kinsey (ex-Sycamore Den) to be bar manager. On my short list to try: Unholy Zodiac (gin, Fernet Branca, The Commissary pineapple gomme, Champagne vinegar, cinnamon) and, for something a little lighter, the Sweet Leaf, made with blended scotch, ginger, lime, Allspice Dram and sage. All cocktails are $9.

I’ll leave you with this description of Kindred from Troy’s piece: “It's one part vintage bank (when they looked like cathedrals), one part ‘elegant cocktail bar, when manners, sophistication and politeness reigned,’ and one part ‘villainous demon lair where evil plots to overthrow the universe were made whilst holding horned and jeweled scepters, or petting cute and sinister cats.’” Awesome.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The San Diego Brewers Guild Is Leading the Fight for Craft Beer

How the Guild is using consumer education to combat the negative effects of Big Beer

San Diego's Best Cocktail-Focused Instagram Feeds

Who to follow for recipes, event info, and stories behind your favorite drinks

Stepping Outside the San Diego Beer Bubble

How a road trip to the Heartland made me long for the San Diego style
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

9 Reasons You Need a Better Barber

Get the look and service you deserve at this East Village salon

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Jason Mraz Is Growing Coffee on a Farm in Oceanside
    We spoke to the musician about all the whys — why food, why farming, why Oceanside, why coffee?
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2017
    The top tacos, chicken wings, seafood, burgers, kid-friendly eateries, breweries, and more
  3. 10 Scenic Hikes Within an Hour of San Diego
    You’ve mastered all the trails in your area—now plan a Saturday to get outside for a hike and enjoy the views just a bit farther afield
  4. The Man Behind San Diego's $26 Billion Company
    Will Illumina's new hotshot CEO be able to lead the San Diego genomics giant into the complex world of clinical care?
  5. Celebrating Women: Shanna Missett Nelson
    Like a good dancer, the Jazzercise president has mastered her balance—of career, family, and life
  6. San Diego's Best Boutique Fitness 2017
    We've sweated through the top yoga, barre, Pilates, and boot camp classes, and are rounding up our favorites
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module