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Home / Articles / Eats / Cocktail Tales /  Summertime drinking in San Diego
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Friday, May 03, 2013

Summertime drinking in San Diego

Five bars serving up season-appropriate libations

By Kelly Davis
cocktailsforweb2 Bali Hai’s tiki mug

There's more to summer cocktails than a paper umbrella, fruit spear and rum. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, especially when the fruit spear's soaked in rum.

Speaking of rum, two spots—Polite Provisions and Hiatus—are resurrecting classic tiki cocktails. From 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday, May 14, Erick Castro, who last year relocated from San Francisco—where he worked at famed spots like Bourbon & Branch and Heaven's Dog—to help start Polite Provisions (4696 30th St. in North Park), will launch the first in his "Tiki Takeover" series. Every second Tuesday of the month, he'll mix up tiki-inspired, rum-centric cocktails. For the first installment, he'll bring in his pal Marco Dionysus, from San Francisco cocktail bar Smuggler's Cove. The menu will feature eight exotic drinks; there's no cover, and attendees are asked to dress worthy of the theme.

If drinks on a weeknight ain't your thing, here's Castroís recipe for Cinnamon Wind:

- 2 ozs. Appleton Estate V/X rum

- 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

- 1/2 oz. Becherovka *

- 1/2 oz. cinnamon gomme **

Place in a shaker with ice cubes and serve in a tiki mug ***

* A Czech herbal liqueur with hints of cinnamon and anise

** For a cinnamon gomme recipe, Google "cinnamon simple syrup." 

*** You can't do much better than Bali Hai's tiki mugs, for sale dry ($9) or filled with their potent, (in)famous Mai Tai.

Over at Hiatus, the poolside bar that's attached to Hotel La Jolla's Cusp restaurant (7955 La Jolla Shores Drive), Nate Howell just rolled out a menu of four classic tiki cocktails: Mai Tai, Singapore Sling, Pina Colada and Scorpion. Howell stays true to original recipes but has picked some interesting spirits, like the floral-noted Citadelle Gin for the Singapore Sling and, for the Scorpion, Maison Rouge, a fruit-forward cognac.

Two spots that do consistently great cocktails—URBN (3085 University Ave. in North Park) and Noble Experiment (777 G St., Downtown)—will release new menus in the next couple weeks. 

When the weather's warm, you can't do much better than a seat at one of URBN's big front windows. Head bartender Jason O'Bryan says the star of the new menu is the Magdalena, with strawberry-infused gin, Canton ginger liqueur and fresh lemon juice, topped off with Lambrusco, a sweet, sparkling Italian red wine.

Brian Lee from Noble Experiment recommends the Georgia Buck, in which Buffalo Trace bourbon dons some warm-weather garb via fresh lime juice, house-pressed ginger syrup and peach bitters. 

And at JSix (616 J St., Downtown), assistant manager / "cocktail engineer" Lauren Lathrop's digging the Pisco Paloma (fresh pink-grapefruit juice, Kappa Pisco, lime and soda) and the Southern Summer (Buffalo Trace bourbon, green Chartreuse and lemonade). JSix also offers several anti-oxidant-containing, low-calorie cocktails, like the Ginger Lady, with muddled fresh ginger, carrot-lemonade juice and citrus vodka. Finally, a reason to use "healthful" and "cocktail" in the same sentence.

Email or follow her on Twitter at @citybeatkelly.