Have a taste of what San Diego has to offer at these 10 hotspots from hoppy double IPAs to classic cocktails with a local twist.
San Diego is synonymous with craft beer. San Diego County’s booming beer scene now boasts around 125 breweries ranging from mom-and-pop shops to mega-operations. Craft cocktails establishments continue to grow. Across the city, bartenders are getting creative, reworking the classics and inventing their own craft creations.
See where it all started at Karl Strauss Brewing Company, San Diego’s first craft brewery. Try an Aurora Hoppyalis or Red Trolley Ale at any of its six local outposts. Mission Brewery originally opened its doors in 1913, but was shut down a few years later due to prohibition. Mission was resurrected in 2007 and reopened in the historic Wonder Bread building downtown. Stop in for a tour and sample some California Craft Lager.
Stone Brewing, another big name in the San Diego beer scene, has grown from humble beginnings to one of the largest craft breweries in the country. Look for its familiar gargoyle mascot as you enjoy a Tangerine Express IPA at any of Stone’s tasting rooms. Ballast Point Brewing Company is also branching out. It now pours its Sculpin IPA at seven locations, four of which are in San Diego County. Feeling adventurous? Take a drive down state Route 78 in North County, also known as Hops Highway. Along the stretch of highway lie quite a few breweries, including Mother Earth Brew Co., which serves up its slightly sweet Cali Creamin’ vanilla cream ale at its two dog-friendly taprooms in Vista.
San Diego is home to several bars known for creative cocktails, from tiki lounges to speakeasies to neighborhood hangouts. Hip South Park hangout Kindred dishes out vegan food and creatively crafted cocktails, some featuring such noteworthy ingredients as absinthe, charcoal, cashew milk, and hibiscus rice nectar. At Sycamore Den in Normal Heights, cozy up by the fireplace and sip a pine-infused tequila drink or an imaginative cocktail made with red wine, absinthe, and housemade curacao. False Idol downtown serves up fun tiki drinks but it is a bit hidden. You will know you’re in the right spot when you find wall-to-wall Polynesian pop-inspired artifacts.
Not only are the cocktails inventive at You & Yours Distilling Co., the vodka and gin they contain is made in house. You’ll have to really look for downtown speakeasy Prohibition. But you’ll be glad you did. The menu at the easy-to-miss hotspot stashed away behind the door of the Law Office of Eddie O’Hare, Esq. offers several inventive cocktails including the San Diego-appropriately named Taco Diet.
Try one – or try them all. San Diego’s craft beer and cocktail scene is a never-ending playground for adults to enjoy.