Ask craft-cocktail fans to name their favorite San Diego bars and Prohibition will likely be near the top. So, it was a (temporary) loss when the bar closed for nearly three months while an adjoining restaurant got a makeover.
Prohibition, along with its new neighbors—cocktail lounge Last Call and restaurant/sports bar 1919—reopened March 11. Prohibition’s interior is still the same, but the bar’s been spiffed up a bit and Ryan Andrews (R&D Bitters, Coin-Op, Craft & Commerce) was brought in to head up the cocktail program.
There’s impressive range among the spring menu’s dozen offerings. For easier drinking, there’s the Brazilian Two-Step (Pitu Caçhaca rum, grilled peach purée, lime juice, demerara sugar) and the Sam Elliott (Buffalo Trace bourbon, demerara sugar, R&D Sarsaparilla bitters). It’s served tall with soda water. "Kind of like an adult cream soda," Andrews says.
Fans of interesting vermouths should try The New Carre, a twist on a Vieux Carre made with Henebery Celebrated Whiskey, Laird's AppleJack brandy, Yzaguirre Rojo Reserva vermouth, Benedictine, and R&D Cherry Apple bitters.
More adventurous is Battle of the Netherlands (Bols Genever, Jägermeister, lemon juice, honey, R&D Aromatic #7 bitters). Andrews came up with the cocktail for a Golden State of Cocktails Jägermeister event and it was a hit (he’s got a history of making delicious Jäger cocktails). The drink is made with a "regal shake"—putting a grapefruit twist in the tin as a way to balance out the flavors. Another one Andrews recommends is Ocho is the New Black (Ocho Plata tequila, Cocchi Americano aperitif, and cucumber). The glass is given an absinthe rinse to add a subtle aromatic.
The menu also includes three daiquiris—a classic (Don Q rum, lime juice, simple syrup), a local take made with Old Harbor Barrelflag Navy Strength Rum, and a Cuban riff, The Hemingway (Zaya Gran Reserva rum, grapefruit juice, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, lime). Andrews plans to repeat the classic-plus-two-riffs theme for each menu. He’s got punchbowls planned for summer and Manhattans for fall.
Prohibition is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. Seating is first-come, first-served, though at some point, they’ll implement a password system that gets you priority seating. For now, enter through Last Call (upstairs in 1919) and don't worry about the wait—both bars offer the same cocktail menu and share bartenders. Though you’ll find Andrews, and a cool speakeasy vibe, only at Prohibition.
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