Edit ModuleShow Tags

Coin-Op Brings Brings Innovative Cocktails and Classic Games to the Gaslamp

Michele Willard’s menu is both fun and sophisticated


Published:

At Coin-Op, sip on a craft cocktail and play some Skee-Ball. | Photo: Kelly Davis

Coin-Op’s new Gaslamp location is an homage to all things ’80s, from the Activision-inspired racing stripes on the floor to the burnt-orange Naugahyde chairs around the bar (I don’t know for sure that they’re Naugahyde, but for authenticity’s sake, let’s pretend they are). The cocktails, though, are forward-thinking. Creator Michele Willard (Craft & Commerce, Bracero, Urbn) have found ways to weave her favorite spirits into drinks that are fun and approachable.

“You see a lot of rhum agricole, sherry, a lot of mezcal,” she says. “I’m using digestifs, I’m using charcoal. I’m using a lot of things you see in the craft cocktail community, but introducing them in a practical way for downtown.”

The Green Goblin. | Photo: Michele Willard

Two of her favorites on the 12-drink menu are the Kryptonite (rhum agricole, lime, kiwi syrup, and Chareau Aloe liqueur) and the Green Goblin (Moroccan mint-infused caçhaca, Cocchi Americano, lime, orgeat, and Chareau Aloe). Chareau is an increasingly popular California-made spirit, distilled from grapes and flavored with aloe vera, cucumber, spearmint, lemon peel, and muskmelon. It adds lightness to a cocktail but also, as Willard points out, gives it a nice backbone.

Cocktails made with activated charcoal have been popular for the visual effect, but Willard uses almond charcoal in the Good vs. Evil — a take on a classic sour — to add some dryness and bring out the layers of flavor. It gives the cocktail an otherworldly gray hue. Garnished with micro mums, it’s a very pretty drink.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy a cocktail, Coin-Op might not be for you. It riffs off the arcades of the ’80s — loud music, lots of visual stimuli. Go to play classic video games, pinball, or Skee-Ball — all the games are outfitted with drink holders (and on Sunday, Sept. 3, from noon to 2 a.m., all games are free). There are also several communal tables with inset video games for larger parties and some really nice punch bowls to share.

“It’s not pretentious,” Willard says. “It’s a fun atmosphere you can feel comfortable in.”


Got ideas for a future post? Email me.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Delicious Collaborations Close Out Beer Week

Karl Strauss’s Collabapalooza and the Brewers Guild Beer Garden cap San Diego Beer Week in style

Lady Bartenders Prove There’s Room for Beer in Cocktails

Amplified Ale Works’ beers help showcase the diversity of booze pairings

Raising a Glass to San Diego’s Brewers During Beer Week

The first days of San Diego Beer Week highlight the strength of our brewing culture and community
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
    Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
  2. A Sneak Peek at ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’
    The Old Globe’s newest world-premiere musical promises a familiar soundtrack and all the good feels of an ’80s rom-com
  3. What San Diego Women Want
    53 working women share their compelling stories on navigating pay equity, the baby penalty, #MeToo, and more
  4. First Look: Lola 55
    A top restaurant industry strategist brings a chef-driven taco shop to the East Village
  5. Sushi’s Next Gen Is Here at Himitsu
    In La Jolla, a Sushi Ota protégé sticks to an age-old tradition of quality
  6. 10 Hot Plates: San Diego's Top Food News in October
    The latest restaurant rumors, openings, and coming-soons
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module