On the short list of retail shops that San Diego lacks are good liquor stores. That's not to say there aren't any—K 'n B Wine Cellars, for instance, will make your neck hurt with its sky-high shelves of booze. Old Town Liquor is a go-to spot for tequila and Mona Lisa in Little Italy for Italian liqueurs—but there aren't many. Welcome, Native Spirits.
Scheduled to open this summer at 2884 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park, Native Spirits will focus on "small-batch spirits, lesser-known cocktail ingredients, amaros and digestifs, and a small but thoughtfully curated selection of beer and wine," says owner Logan Mitchell.
Mitchell co-founded The Cellar Door supper club with pal Gary McIntire (Native Spirits' general manager), and the two plan for the space to include a 750-square-foot dining area where they'll serve food by chef Javier Ortega's Spanglish Kitchen. For now, they have only a beer-and-wine license, Mitchell says, but that gives them a chance to get creative: "The goal is to focus on less-familiar ingredients like vermouth, fortified wine, port. No soju Bloody Marys here."
Polite Provisions' Erick Castro is launching what he's calling "Spirit Society." The cocktail-education series kicks off Monday, April 7, and will feature monthly hands-on classes (limit 12) that range from a focus on basics—Cocktails 101 is the theme for the first three classes—to either a specific spirit (tequila and mescal on Aug. 11) or style of cocktail (tiki drinks on July 7). Cost is $60 (see politeprovisions.com), and attendees will be provided all the tools and ingredients to make three drinks.
Not a huge fan of gin? Maybe you need to try one of the so-called "New American gins" that are less about the botanical flavors that gave gin its name (genievre is French for "juniper"). One of those new-gen gins is Aviation, which is also a sponsor of Gin Fest, happening from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Hiatus Lounge in Hotel La Jolla (7955 La Jolla Shores Drive). Admission is $10, and the event includes tastings, classic-cocktail demos by head Hiatus bartender Chris Burkett and slow-roasted grilled chicken to snack on.