Bartenders are starting to think about spring cocktail menus, full of lighter, seasonal offerings. But with chilly weather and frequent rain, we don’t blame you for gravitating toward drinks like these to take the chill off.
Kentucky Cider @ The Plaza Bar
Back in November, Irving Gonzalez, lead mixologist at the Westgate Hotel’s Plaza Bar, won the first San Diego / Tijuana binational cocktail competition. Unfortunately, his work visa had expired, so fans had to wait a bit before the Tijuana resident was back behind the bar. He’s there now, and working on a new menu, so stop by soon to try this fun play on a spiked hot apple cider (Bulleit bourbon, maple syrup, apple cider, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper, served on the rocks) with the "heat" coming from the cayenne.
Also try: The Perfect Plaza Manhattan (Knob Creek bourbon, sweet and dry vermouth, bitters).
Hot Mess @ The Crack Shack Encinitas
The just-opened second Crack Shack location features cocktails by bartending all-star Eric Johnson (Juniper & Ivy, Noble Experiment, Craft & Commerce). Love mezcal? Try the Hot Mess, which gets some heat from Ancho Reyes and a little sweetness from honey and grapefruit.
Also try: The Jack Rosen, a bold take on a classic Jack Rose, made with bourbon, orchard cherry liqueur, grenadine, lemon, and spiced cherry bitters.
Smokin’ in the Silent Theatre @ Lionfish
The new Pendry Hotel means a few new downtown dining establishments, including Lionfish, helmed by Chef Jose "JoJo" Ruiz, formerly of Ironside Fish & Oyster. This cocktail, on Lionfish’s short but impressive menu caught my eye both for its name and ingredients (espresso-infused El Silencio mezcal, Cappelletti Vino Aperitivo, Cocchi Dopo Teatro vermouth amaro, orange oil). Carlos Ochoa, brand rep for El Silencio, told me that he and Clique Hospitality Group mixologist Michael Monrreal came up with the cocktail while in Oaxaca, after adding some El Silencio and orange oil to their espresso. The "theatre" comes from Cocchi’s Dopo Teatro vermouth, a reference to the old Italian tradition of enjoying a chilled glass of vermouth after an evening at the theater.
Also try: Fort Point (Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Cocchi de Torino vermouth, Benedictine, bitters).
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