Drink Issue


Picking a theme for a special issue can be tricky. In the case of our annual drink issue, there’s no need to get too convoluted. Just write about the bars, clubs, restaurants, cocktails and breweries that make this city great. But is that really enough? We’re a creative bunch. We want to be both informative and fun, relevant and irreverent. 

Hence, this issue’s theme of “drinking in my backyard,” or DIMBY for short. Surely readers are aware of San Diego’s buzzy political acronyms of NIMBY (not in my backyard) and YIMBY (yes in my backyard), which are most commonly used when it comes to building more affordable housing developments. Don’t get us wrong: we’re not satirizing this issue, but rather taking a timely look at the places we choose to drink in the neighborhoods we call home. 

But which neighborhoods do we cover? How do we ensure that we’re comprehensive as well as selective? In the end, we thought it would be cool to cover both the older places that are long-standing institutions, as well as the newer spots that are indicative of the ever-changing nature of those neighborhoods. Still, to do every single neighborhood in San Diego would be a daunting task (real talk: we just don’t have the page count or livers for that), so we decided to do it by city council districts. Our logic was that this would be a great way to be broader in the way we covered the topic, but also inform readers as to what district they call home and remember this when the elections are held in 2020.  

Wherever readers’ allegiances fall on the NIMBY vs. YIMBY debate, we like to think that everyone can agree that DIMBYism can bring us all together. 

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    Photo by Zack Benson

    All in one

    I’m here to say that District 1 is often the place that sets the trends for much of the city. And while it isn’t particularly well known for a bustling nightlife scene, there are some old-school gems to be found if one knows where to look. Read more

    Jun 11, 2019

    5:34 PM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photo courtesy of Waterbar

    Two if by sea

    District 2 is usually the first stop for tourists who visit San Diego. As a result, the city’s beach communities and the people who live there are constantly fighting a battle between old and new. Read more

    Jun 11, 2019

    5:43 PM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photo by Jackie Bryant

    Three's a crowd

    When it comes to drinking, District 3 is absolutely spoiled for options. Encompassing the downtown and mid-city neighborhoods, this district is the heart and soul of San Diego’s dining and drinking scenes. Read more

    Jun 11, 2019

    5:49 PM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photos by Laura Canepa

    Go fourth

    The southeast region of San Diego, which encompasses much of District 4, has an old-school vibe that I found to be unique. I like to see parts of San Diego that don’t flaunt their neighborhood in your face. Read more

    Jun 11, 2019

    5:57 PM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photo courtesy of Veranda Fireside Lounge and Restaurant

    Take the fifth

    D-5 has a nice selection of dives and fancy stops that make suburban life a little more manageable. Read more

    Jun 11, 2019

    6:03 PM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photo courtesy of Cutwater Spirits

    Deep six

    Unlike its neighbors, Sorrento Valley is more tech-y than tasty, but Gravity Heights (9920 Pacific Heights Blvd.) gave a fresh jolt to the corporate-lunch-heavy area when it opened earlier this year. Read more

    Jun 12, 2019

    9:09 AM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photos by Seth Combs

    Coming up seven

    Everyone likes to think the dive bar they frequent is “authentic,” but I’d challenge them to hang at a dive in D-7. For example, Pal Joey’s (5147 Waring Road) in Allied Gardens is like a different world with a mature crowd. Read more

    Jun 12, 2019

    9:16 AM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photos by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

    Eight night

    It’s easy to assume the best drinking spots in District 8 would be breweries in Barrio Logan, but I’d suggest not ignoring neighborhoods like Logan Heights and Otay Mesa. Read more

    Jun 12, 2019

    9:20 AM

    Special Issues Drink Issue

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    Photo by Ryan Bradford

    To the nines

    To riff on the words of Walt Whitman, District 9 (which is represented by city councilmember Georgette Gomez) contains multitudes. Read more

    Jun 12, 2019

    9:27 AM

    Special Issues Drink Issue


Drink issue 2018 intro image

From coffee and charcoal, to beer and bitters, here’s some flavor profiles of our favorite palate-pleasing ingredients

Writers love booze. 

This should not come as a surprise to anyone with even a passing interest in writing or literature. For us, alcohol can serve as both muse and distraction, something that can cure a bad case of writer’s block, but also make it worse. Spirits can lift our spirits, but also serve to gouge our bank accounts (it also shouldn’t come as a surprise, but writers don’t make that much money).

Yeah, we call this issue “The Drink Issue,” but that just looks nice and diplomatic on a cover. Let’s call this issue what it is: “The Booze Issue.” The “Let’s Get Faded and Do some Magical and/or Dumb Shit Issue.” When the CityBeat staff sat down to plan this issue, the excitement at the prospect of getting to try a bunch of new cocktails was palpable, but, as always, we wanted to put our own little spin on the theme. 

What we ended up with—after multiple meetings, naysaying from the editor and one not-so-brilliant suggestion that we make “animals” the theme—was the idea to focus on the ingredients in some of our fave cocktails that don’t get a lot of love. Yes, the brand of booze in the drink is the crucial element, but what about the ingredients, accoutrements and additions that make these cocktails so enjoyable to imbibe. Sure, there’s something to said for a bourbon neat or a mezcal on the rocks, but add some coffee or lime juice and you have something else altogether. Something even more inspired and inspiring. 

2017 Drink Issue

drink issue intro image

It’s a story as old as time. Someone makes something particularly innovative. Everybody loves it. Then, some upstart comes along and says, “I’m going to make it even better” often sprucing up and tricking out the original creation in the process. And while innovation is always a good thing, there’s something to be said for tradition. After all, if something is considered a “classic,” it has that distinction for a reason. 

Nowhere is this logic more relevant than in the cocktail world. It can be contentious sometimes (think about the eyerolls that ensue when someone orders an appletini), but it’s more than simply a battle between strict originalism and liberal innovation. For bartenders, it’s about respecting their proverbial drink-slinging forebearers while also honoring their own creative instincts.

But for us, it’s all about what tastes good. Finding that perfectly balanced and meticulously made classic cocktail can transport us back to the time and place where we first tried it. Or, it can be finding that clever, crafty and creative drink that we may have otherwise never tried. The 16 drinks in this feature are more than adequate representations of this classic versus craft dichotomy. They also happen to taste really damn good as well. 


  • Flamenco Dinner Show

    The longest running Flamenco Dinner show in Southern California. Enjoy a three-course dinner menu combined with a two-part Flamenco dance performance. Read more

    Nov 16, 2019

    7:00 PM

    Cafe Sevilla



    Family-friendly monthly informal Shakespeare readings with discussion led by San Diego Shakespeare Society. No experience necessary. Tea and scones, clotted cream and jam provided by Shakespeare's Corner Shoppe. Third Sunday of every month. Free. Read more

    Nov 17, 2019

    2:00 PM4:00 PM

    Central Library

    Books Downtown