Best Drinks 2012
The Bloody Mary bar at Davanti Enoteca
One of San Diego’s few Master Court Sommeliers, Knack will help re-open Rancho Valencia on September 7. We think he’ll be the perfect host. “A memorable wine experience starts with a great wine (to your palate), served at its peak, in the right glassware, by someone who genuinely cares that you enjoy it,” Knack says. “My passion is participating in the chain of people who make that happen.” Amen! Below are his best wine picks.
His Best of San Diego
Keg Wine: Prosecco
While red and white wine served on draft can be found on more and more wine lists, Rancho Valencia is the first in California to serve sparkling wine on draft.
Hyper-Local Winery You Don't Know: Vesper
Chris Broomell and Alysha Stehly are trailblazers in the process of creating compelling, professionally made wines from SD County vineyards.
SoCal Wine Getaway: Melville Estates, Santa Barbara
The winery has a Mediterranean feel, with lavender bushes and a romantic picnic area. Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay is a consistently great wine and the Terraces Pinot Noir is one of the best from this region.
Wine Trend: Lower alcohol in wine
A wine of 15 percent alcohol is just too “loud” to play nicely with your meal. Lower alcohol also allows for wines that are less homogenous and more detailed in the flavors they present.
Bloody Mary Bar: Davanti Enoteca
Ordinarily we don’t like to work that hard for our favorite brunch beverage, but this make-your-own Bloody Mary bar is worth the effort. With pickled veggies and no fewer than 20 different hot sauces to choose from, weekend drinking just became an interactive event. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
1655 India Street, Little Italy; 12955 El Camino Real, Del Mar
Half-Price Wine Deal: Malarkey’s fabric of restaurants
Every Tuesday, all five of Brian Malarkey’s restos—from Gingham to Herringbone—offer half off selected wine bottles. They also waive corkage fees. You’ll miss out on Snake Oil’s genius cocktail creations, but if you’re a wino, you won’t even notice.
Sunset Sipping: Cusp Dining & Drinks
Of-the-moment architect and designer Gulla Jonsdottir (Red O in L.A.) turned around Hotel La Jolla with $4 million from new owner, Kimpton. In the penthouse, former Clay’s customers will appreciate that the bar now faces the ocean view. Thanks, Gulla! Sunset Happy Hour occurs daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and includes $1.50 oysters.
7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla
Name for a Martini: Prom Night
The Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge makes a delicious but simple drink that we, ahem, never got a taste of on prom night. But what a name! It includes St. Germain, elderflower liqueur, lime zest, and champagne, served in a martini glass. Now, where’s that limo?
729 West Washington Street, Mission Hills
Girly-Girl Drink: Professor Booty
Never mind the name (although it is provocative!). One sip of Craft & Commerce’s grapefruit cocktail (made with gin, lime juice, Cinnamon Bark Syrup and Peychaud Bitters) and you’ll be booty-calling—er, calling for another round.
675 West Beech Street, Little Italy
Sipper for the Senses: Aromatherapy Cosmopolitan
Mix Ketel One Oranje, Grand Marnier, white cran juice, lime, simple syrup, and Tea Forté Lavender Infusion—you'll get a relaxing drink that complements the fresh lavender planted around the Rancho Bernardo Inn.
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, Rancho Bernardo
Communal Shot: Gaijin Noodle + Sake House
Every hour at dinner, Gaijin servers pass out sake to each guest for a restaurant-wide toast. We love the attempt at camaraderie—to the sound of a gong—plus the fact that they’re open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
627 Fourth Avenue, Gaslamp
Best of San Diego's Craft Brews
By Brandon Hernández
Best Beer Shout-Out
While visiting family in America’s Finest, New York Times contributor Sara Dickerman found herself sucked into San Diego’s vibrant brewing culture, sipping her way through breweries, beer bars, and bottle shops. The result: A stout Times travel piece that told the rest of the country what we already know—SD is the big apple of craft beer.
In a town that loves piney triple IPAs, it takes guts to craft one that’ll stand up to the likes of Russian River Pliny the Younger, Dogfish Head 120-Minute, and Green Flash Palate Wrecker, but that’s exactly what Mother Earth Brew Co. did—and did well—with Big Mother IIIPA.
206 Main Street, Vista
New Tasting Rooms
Beer-soaked orchids go to Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits for expanding its formerly petite pint room into an authentic bar setting.
10051 Old Grove Road, Scripps Ranch
Cans are making a serious comeback. Airtight, skunking sun-resistant, lightweight, and enviro-friendly, aluminum’s the packaging of choice for Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery with three others—Hess Brewing, Benchmark, and Pizza Port—saying they can (and will) can very soon.
805 16th Street, downtown
Over a dozen opened this year, but Societe Brewing Company came out ahead with stellar IPAs and Belgian ales, an indoor/outdoor tasting room, cut-out coasters, and tap handles featuring silhouettes of SD beer industry insiders.
8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa