During summer, craft cocktails quench our thirst, cool us down and act as the perfect accessory while we cruise through rooftop pool parties. Yet during fall and winter, craft cocktail consumption becomes far more serious. Inspired by the seasons, built with local ingredients, and handcrafted by the best in the business, new fall cocktails are stealing the spotlight all across the county.
Long gone are the simple days of vodka and soda; we now demand more from our hard working bartenders, and we make sure to go the extra mile to support sustainability one drink at a time. San Diego bars and restaurants source local farms for fresh produce and spices with which to make inventive spirits by way of cutting-edge mixology trends. This fall, get your buzz on with the new Jack + Julian at URBN, the infamous Smashing Pumpkin at Grant Grill, the mysterious Night Creature at El Dorado, and the soothing Lullaby at Searsucker.
Warm up with one of the best fall cocktails in San Diego.
Jack + Julian at URBN Coal Fired Pizza
Far more than a basic pizza joint, URBN is a go-to spot for local craft beer and handcrafted cocktails. Just in time for fall URBN is launching a new cocktail menu that celebrates the season with unexpected flavor combinations. Created by Dustin Haarstad and Jen Queen of Blind Tiger Cocktail Co., the fall menu features local ingredients, beer cocktails, and new seasonal beer selections. The must-try spirit for fall is the Jack + Julian, a beer cocktail made with Lairds Applejack, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Green Chartreuse, Lemon and Julian Hard Cider. More playfully-named cocktails include the Machu Picchu, Soiled Dove, Holden Caulfield and Polish Space Program. The new menu is now available in honor of their one year anniversary. (pictured)
Smashing Pumpkin at Grant Grill
Grant Grill always embraces the change of seasons with a new themed cocktail menu. This year, Grant Grill offers four seasonal spirits that evoke the flavors of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Back by popular demand is the Smashing Pumpkin, the infamous cocktail that was featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The Smashing Pumpkin is made with Pumpkin and Star Anise Infused 10 Cane Rum, Grand Marnier, St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram, Saffron Syrup, Cardamom Bitters and Fresh Meyer Lemon. More seasonal spirits include the Douglas Collins, Roasting Hazelnuts by an Open Fire and the Seasonal Skinny – Cranberry Toddy. The new cocktail menu is available for the holiday season at The US Grant Hotel's Grant Grill.
Barrel Aged Cocktails at The Hopping Pig
Although The Hopping Pig is known for their pork, burgers, and beers, they’ve also worked up a few barrel aged cocktails for the fall menu. The Pig’s latest is a version of a “Vieux Carre”, mixing rye whiskey, brandy, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and bitters, and aging for six-weeks in a special oak barrel. They’re also now offering a “Negroni”, named for the nobleman who ordered it in the early 1900’s in Italy. The drink is made with gin, compari, and sweet vermouth. Other top fall cocktails at The Hopping Pig include Pimms Cup, What’s Up Watson, and the Singapore Sling.
The Pearl Patch at The Pearl Hotel
The Pearl is our favorite vintage-chic boutique hotel in Point Loma. In addition to posh ‘n’ petite guest rooms, The Pearl is known for its oyster shaped swimming pool and indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge, serving thoughtful cuisine and craft cocktails. In honor of the autumn season, The Pearl is featuring a specialty cocktail this October called The Pearl Patch, which is made with Pumpkin Beer, Crusoe Organic Spiced Rum and House-infused Pumpkin Syrup. We recommend trying this Halloween-inspired spirit during The Pearl’s Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza, a fun annual event with pumpkins, carving tools, themed movies and prizes on Thursday, October 20.
The Night Creature at El Dorado
It may be hard to stray away from your usual Moscow Mule drink order, but El Dorado just introduced a revamped cocktail menu with even more options for fall imbibing. Order The Night Creature, a daring spirit made with Rye, Mezcal, Averna, Benedictine and Orange Bitters. More must-try fall cocktails include the P80-X with Aperol, Lemon, Dry Vermouth, Bitters and Champagne; and the Honey Badger with Rye, Honey and Bitters. El Dorado introduced the new menu during a booze-fueled unveiling party on September 20.
Drinking is fun. But drinking for a cause is even better. Thirsty locals will be happy to hear that Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a special cocktail and wine selection this October. Translation: all you have to do is drink up in style, and Fleming’s will donate proceeds to two breast cancer-related charities. If you’re a craft cocktail connoisseur who is also calorie-conscious, we recommend ordering The Stiletto, a 99-calorie cocktail made with Hendrick’s Gin, Monin Sugar Free Syrup and lime juice. If you prefer fine wine to handcrafted spirits, opt for a glass of Cline Cashmere. Cline Cashmere is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre that was named for its velvety structure. Get details here.
Chocolat is adding a new dimension of indulgence to the fall menu with gelato cocktails. Chocolat’s new gelato cocktails are hand crafted with house-made gelato and infused with various flavored liqueurs. Fruity gelato cocktails include the Lemon Vodka Sorbet Martini made with Fresh Lemon Gelato, Prosecco and Vodka Liqueur. And chocolate-lovers will obsess over the Espresso Gelato Martini made with Milk Chocolate Gelato, Espresso Shots, Vanilla Syrup and Vodka Liqueur. Gelato cocktails are now served at both Chocolat locations. Get details here.
Lullaby at Searsucker
Snake Oil Cocktail Co.'s unique spirits pair perfectly with Chef Brian Malarkey’s innovative cuisine at Searsucker, the hottest restaurant in downtown San Diego. It’s been a long summer of fun, and it’s time to slow down and relax this fall. If you agree, order the Lullaby, a soothing spirit made with White Whiskey, St. Germain, Chamomile Bitters and Rose Geranium Water. More cocktails include The Honeybadger, Peter Rabbit and Dirty Girl.
Middle Earth at Vin De Syrah
Syrah is our favorite Alice in Wonderland-inspired subterranean wine bar. In addition to a vast international wine list, Syrah boasts a Blind Tiger Cocktail Co.-crafted menu full of seasonal spirits. Ideal for your fall palate, order Middle Earth, a serious cocktail made with Fortaleza Anejo, Martel vs Cognac, Carpano Antica, Benedictine Barred Aged and Honey Bitters. More cocktails include Revive the Rabbit, Rum Raison Daquiri and Ace in the Hole.
Gunga Din at Starlite Lounge
Starlite is a perfect cocktail haven for a chilly fall evening. Hide away in a corner booth and sip on one of the many handcrafted spirits. A great match for your fall mood is the Gunga Din, a cocktail made with Montecristo 12 Year Aged Rum, Cold Earl Gray Tea, Cardamom Syrup, Meyer Lemon and Mint. Another great spirit for fall is the Kentucky Colonel, with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Ginger Beer, Lemon and Housemade Cherry Vanilla Bitters.
Muddled Old Fashioned at The Lincoln Room
Leave the cold Gaslamp Quarter behind and step into a warm, old fashioned log cabin with plenty of haute cocktails on hand. The Lincoln Room serves classic handcrafted cocktails in a cozy setting that is ever-inviting. Order the Muddled Old Fashioned, made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Brown Sugar, Orange, Luxardo Cherry and Angostura Bitters. Or, opt for the Dark and Stormy, made with Zaya Rum, Ginger Beer and Lime.
Still thirsty? More top San Diego bars for craft cocktails include Craft & Commerce, Noble Experiment, Flavor Del Mar, Quality Social, Union Kitchen + Tap, Prohibition, El Take It Easy, Eden and The Glass Door.