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San Diego Drinks & Cocktails

Wines, brewing festivus, and hotel bars


Taking Back the Hotel Bar

The best thing about October in San Diego? The Zonies are back home in the desert, and we can find a seat at the good hotel bars again. Here are three new spots we love.

Photo by Sam Wells

Newly acquired by Kimpton Hotels (aka the cool kid among boutique hotel groups), the penthouse bar/resto at Hotel La Jolla has the same killer sunset view, but better food and cocktails, following its $4 million reno. Bonus: Valet parking. 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla

The W Hotel
Photo by Sam Wells

The W
Though it’s still awkward to navigate the different bar areas (lobby bar, second-floor pool deck, and fourth-floor rooftop lounge), we love the recently updated, bold design (burning-chair bonfire, anyone?) and that the sand is gone. Buh-bye to “The Beach” and hello to the redone restaurant Kelvin, boasting a NYC chef and Latin menu. 421 West B Street, downtown

LOUNGEsix pool
Photo by Sam Wells

Specialty cocktails like mules, chili-mango margs, and pear flower lemonades come by the pitcher ($39 each), so you can spend less time at the bar and more time in a Zonie-free cabana. 616 J Street, downtown

Best Bets by the Glass

Ten wines to try around town this season


6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe

White: Pyrenées Pinot Gris 2010, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $12.
Notes: Light pear, apple, citrus aroma; soft, rich finish.
Pair with: Wonderful with salads, vegetable dishes (ratatouille).

Red: Luca Syrah Laborde Double Select 2010, Argentina, $14.
Notes: Aroma of leather, smoked meat, oak, berries; big fruit flavors, too.
Pair with: Grilled meats, turkey, sausage dishes.


Firefly Grill and Wine Bar

251 North El Camino Real, Encinitas

White:  Treana White 2010, Central Coast, $9.  Blend of Marsanne, Viognier.  
Notes: Fruit basket bouquet; rich flavor, textured finish.
Pair with: seafood, veal, pork dishes.

Red: FiftyRow Syrah 2006, Napa Valley, $9.  
Notes: Spicy, earthy; big fruit, rich finish.
Pair with: Bold meats and heartier seafood dishes.


Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

8970 University Center Lane, UTC area; 380 K Street, downtown

White:  Il Borro Lamelle Toscana 2011, $15. Elegant 100 percent Chardonnay.
Notes: Peachy aroma; crisp, vanilla finish.
Pair with: Appetizers, seafood.

Red: Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Napa Valley, $14. Complex Cabernet.
Notes: Oak bouquet, blackberry, and spice flavors.
Pair with: Stews, beef.


Village Vino

4095 Adams Avenue, Kensington

White:  Domaine Gramenon Côtes du Rhône La Vie On Y Est 2010, $15. Refreshing Viognier.
Notes: Hints of melon, peach in the bouquet; round, fruity finish.
Pair with: Pumpkin soups, Thanksgiving fare.

Red: Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani Maioli 2009, $12. Lighter-bodied Piedmont red.
Notes: Fresh berry bouquet, mid-bodied, subtle style.
Pair with: Roasted vegetables, grilled meats.


WineSellar and Brasserie

9550 Waples Street, San Diego

White:  Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Napa Valley, $16.
Notes: Subtle hints of stone fruit, flintiness, light oak; smooth finish.
Pair with: Vegetable dishes, soups.

Red: Davis Family Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2009, $16.
Notes: Light stemmy nose; medium to full body; velvet finish.
Pair with: Ravioli, fowl of any kind.

//Tom Gable

Hess beer in a glass

Brewing Festivus

Though it’s customary at Oktoberfest to brew a Bavarian-style Mäerzen lager, Hess Brewing is opting for a Düsseldorf-style Altbier, called Festivus. Owner Mike Hess describes the taste as slightly nutty, with “scents of sweet malt and caramel, overlaid with distinctly spicy noble hop aroma.” Get Festivus at the annual “OktoberHess” on October 20. 7955 Silverton Avenue, Miramar


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