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Cocktails with the Kids

Four spots where adults can enjoy a well-made drink and kids will be entertained


Foosball table at Soda & Swine | Photo by Lyudmila Zotova

When I was little and we visited my aunt and uncle in L.A. for the holidays, we’d always go to the Bonaventure Hotel for drinks (Shirley Temples for my sister and me and adult beverages for everyone else). The hotel’s cocktail lounge is on the 34th floor and slowly revolves, which means us kids were thoroughly entertained while the adults got their drink on — responsibly, of course.

For those of you with family in town for the holidays, and little ones in tow, here are a few spots to enjoy a well-made cocktail and give the kids something to remember. And, in the event y’all would prefer to curl up at home by the fire, there’s a make-at-home recipe below.

Soda & Swine (at Liberty Station)

The second location of the popular eatery, designed by Basile Studio, is big and open with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Kids will get a kick out of things like the giant foosball table that doubles as a long seating area and the open bakery where they can watch pies being made. The under-21s have a long list of sodas to choose from, while the adults can opt for something holiday-appropriate, like the Praline Pecan (Sazerac pecan liqueur and Stroh rum, garnished with candied pecans) or a nice, boozy Rusty Roy (Henry McKenna bourbon, lemon, cinnamon syrup, pomegranate syrup, Angostura bitters).

Grant Grill Lounge

It’s a bit of a stretch to call this place kid-friendly, but I imagine myself at 7 or 8, hanging with the adults and thinking this is the coolest spot in the world. So, dress nicely and make sure everyone’s on their best behavior. Chef de Bar Cory Alberto’s Fall In New England is an experience (Johnny Walker Red, cold-smoked apple juice, Sapling Maple Liqueur, Don Ciccio Walnut Amaro, cinnamon bitters) and the Raider of Normandy is one to try, too, made with Calvados, charred persimmon, wormwood-and-rosemary puree and grapefruit. For the kiddos, there’s a short mocktail menu with a mule (minus the vodka) and the Recovery Fizz (fresh lemon juice, “bartender’s whim” of fruit and bitters and seltzer water).

Panama 66

The San Diego Museum of Art’s restaurant is outdoors, but heating lamps are plentiful. Kids can play in the adjoining sculpture garden — where you’re permitted to bring drinks. The cocktail menu includes riffs on classics, like the P66 Manhattan and a mezcal Margarita, and there’s usually an interesting seasonal offering. Before you go, be sure to check the schedule (they close at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve). If you still have family and friends around on Dec. 26, show up early and grab a table for Miss Erika Davies, who performs from 7 to 9 p.m.

URBN Pizza

URBN’s North Park spot is another place with lots of room and big tables — and some of the best pizza in San Diego. Soothe your frazzled nerves with a Winter Sling (Beefeater gin, lime, cinnamon, pineapple gum syrup, orgeat, ginger liqueur, Angostura bitters) or the Operation Kino (Templeton Rye, Landy cognac, pear liqueur, Angostura bitters). Special for the season is The Refire, a creation of bartender Michele Willard:

2 ounces burbon
.25 ounce Licor 43
.75 ounce lemon juice
.75 ounce cinnamon syrup
.75 ounce apple cider
.25 ounce honey

Top it off with white pomegranate hot tea and garnish with pomegranate and a cinnamon / brown sugar rim.

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