Drinking in San Diego: How It Compares to Phoenix's Cocktail Scene

Categories: Hooch

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Heather Hoch
For one thing, San Diego has cocktails by the beach... so, yeah.
San Diegans are probably sick of the sight of us "Zonies," as they refer to us. During summer months, it's pretty much guaranteed that many Phoenicians will head to the city to escape and when we do it seems every time there's a bevy of new food and drink spots popping up that warrant a visit. While San Diego's unique style is cementing its place in the world of imbibing, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's leagues ahead of us in terms of cocktail culture.

See also: 5 Things to Eat and Drink in San Diego -- and One More for the Drive Home

Although San Diego is known by beer lovers as a haven for microbreweries, with Mike Hess, Alpine, Ballast Point, and many, many more, the cocktail scene is also strong.

With several outposts from famed New York and Los Angeles bar owners, it's almost like an unfair advantage for San Diego, though we don't necessarily begrudge them it since the chance to drive a very short distance and still experience some of the best of the best is great regardless.

For example, the now defunct pop-up speakeasy Frauds & Swindlers in the Gaslamp District was a product of L.A.'s Aidan Demarest (Neat) and Dave Whitton (Villian's Tavern). Sam Ross of New York's Milk & Honey helped open Noble Experiment.

That doesn't mean San Diego doesn't have a voice of its own to share though. Jen Queen, formerly of Prepkitchen, moved bars in Little Italy to open Juniper + Ivy. The local favorite most recently had drinks on the menu with scotch and mezcal, blackberries and rye, and the requisite Mai Tai. Queen also makes an amaro in house.

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Heather Hoch
Abandon all hope of a cocktail menu, ye who enter here.
Back to Noble Experiment, you get your first taste of a Consortium Holdings bar. Think of CH like the Fox Restaurant Concepts of San Diego, except (and I'm just going to put this out there flat) way, way better. If you can actually get into Noble Experiment, which demands a reservation, you'll get one of those legit speakeasy experiences that doesn't make you roll your eyes.

First off, getting there takes some figuring out. You go through another bar called the Neighborhood, to the back, past the bathrooms, and to a keg wall. That keg wall isn't actually a keg wall though-- it's a façade that opens to a bright neon sign that reads "Noble Experiment." The hostess leads you back to the bar, where one wall covered in fake skulls like a Czech chapel and the other is covered in ornate paintings with gilded frames.

There's no menu at Noble Experiment--it's an experiment after all. Instead you explain what spirits and flavor profiles you like and they make something up, being deftly trained in the ways of "Professor" Jerry Thomas. Understandably, some might find this on-the-spot drink improvisation off-putting and others might find the concept in general a little too much for their vacation drinking. Of CH bars, this one's going to be a bit pricier at about $15 or $16 per drink.


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17 comments
Rodney Alling
Rodney Alling

At least Phoenix has San Diego beat when it comes to amazing news reporting. Wait, no we don't.

trbl.name
trbl.name

This is a shameful piece of faux journalism that does nothing to promote local culture, even where there are blatant chances. This is nothing but San Diego fluffery. I love all their places; don't get me wrong. We read this to know what's going on locally. Get it together.

Additionally, maybe Ms Hoch should research stuff in her home state before venturing to other realms much more developed than ours. Penca is less than 2 hours away, and you've never been? Really? After all the time they've been open?

Amy Parker
Amy Parker

Who cares? Slow news day? Vodka in PHX is the same as vodka in San Diego.

Francisco Cortez
Francisco Cortez

I agree! I've been to places with great service, but have a blah atmosphere, and the ones that look hip, have horrible service.

Mj Deen
Mj Deen

It might have something to do with I don't know the intense heat in Phoenix.... juxtaposed the cool breezes in San Diego

Brandon Doyle
Brandon Doyle

Thats like suggesting that Phoenix stop serving delicious mac n cheese out of a shoe.

Brad Wayne
Brad Wayne

Douche-factor is what I think you are going for

Jesse Hansen
Jesse Hansen

Thinking of you Joe Tuchscherer. Wishing we were together Drinking.

Kyo Ono
Kyo Ono

I have never had a decent drink in phx \U0001f614 they all want to kill you with alcohol, or get you super drunk \U0001f633

Ryan White
Ryan White

Wow- what a poorly written article. It reads like a CH PR brochure. You did nothing for the originality of the San Diego scene, of which after reading this, I suspect there isn't any. It's quite embarrassing actually.

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson

Maybe the fact that it isn't 110 at night. you can't walk from a decent to bar to another one. No decent late night eating (no mom and pops) within walking distance. Oh yeah NO BEACH TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE MORNING WHEN YOU ARE HUNG OVER. Nobody really cares about the booze at that point.

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