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10 Stellar Spots To Find Cocktails For $10 Or Less

Top tipples at budget-friendly prices.

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In today’s world of hand-cut ice cubes and housemade tinctures, finding a quality cocktail in San Diego isn’t tough, but the price tag on these labor-intensive tipples can be. Cocktail lovers on a budget fret not, because some of San Diego’s best bars and most knowledgeable bartenders are serving up killer happy hour deals, weekend specials and more. Here are 10 spots to find stellar cocktails without breaking the $10 barrier.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

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2202 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-0222
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This Park West gastro pub runs a great happy hour, Monday through Friday 4:30 – 6 p.m., when one of their featured daily craft cocktails costs just $8. Made with fig-infused Slow Hand Six Woods Whiskey, Armada Oloroso Sherry, lime juice, cane syrup and black walnut bitters the Fig Poppa is the latest addition to the lineup –– be sure to snag one this month along with some of Carl Schroeder’s award-winning eats.

2. El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

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1030 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 237-0550
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One of San Diego’s first bona fide craft cocktail bars, this western-themed watering hole is an institution among drinkers in the know. From specialties and classics to old favorites, all cocktails cost $9 except during happy hour (daily until 9 p.m.) when seasonal varieties will only set you back $6. Tipples include the mezcal-based Gypsy Tears, and Bikini Bottom with Clément Rhum Agricole, lime, pineapple shrub, and Clément Coconut Liqueur.

3. Cat Eye Club

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370 7th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 330-9509
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Stop by this swanky lounge for Cool Cat Karaoke on Thursdays when Cat Tais (Monkey coconut rum, Cruzan aged light rum, pineapple, felernum, Cruzan black strap rum), and Long Islands (rum, New Amsterdam gin, vodka, tequila, triple sec, sweet & sour, splash of coke) are only $6. While most cocktails on the regular menu come in at $10 or over, the Enchanted Youth (pomegranate syrup, brut sparkling wine) is pretty reasonable at $9 a pop.

4. Nectar Room

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1409 C St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 702-6010
This laid back little cocktail bar in East Village covers all the bases with a menu featuring plenty of $8 options on gin, tequila, agave, and rum-based beverages, plus some tiki options too. Mules are also $8 each and can either be made Moscow (vodka), Samurai (whiskey), Shogun (tequila) or Kraken-style with rum. Don't forget to take a buck off every 'Nectar Treat' during happy hour, which runs between 5 – 7 p.m., and again between 10 p.m. until midnight.

5. Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop

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640 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 450-5880
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While most specialty cocktails at this chic East Village chophouse come in around the $12 - $14 price point, you can snag one for $7 during happy hour, every Tuesday to Friday from 4 – 7 p.m. Current creations from head bartender Garth Flood and his team include 'Calamity Gin' (Plymouth Gin with lime juice, grapefruit juice, sage, simple syrup), and 'The Horse Thief', made with Benchmark Bourbon, Carpano Antiqua vermouth and Jägermeister bitters.

6. Starlite

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3175 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 358-9766
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Another of San Diego’s original fine cocktail purveyors, this much-loved India Street hotspot serves up their famed Kentucky Colonels every Wednesday for only $8. Imbibers can also beat those 'back to work blues' with $8 mules every Sunday and Monday; or take $2 off specialty cocktails during happy hour, which runs daily between 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Made with Ixa Blanco Tequila, lime, agave nectar and salt, Tim’s Margarita is a must-try.

7. Counterpoint

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830 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 564-6722
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Golden Hills’ hip bar/eatery serves up some splendidly priced signature drinks, with all cocktails coming in at a very affordable $9 each. During happy hour (Sunday through Thursday, 5 – 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. until midnight) expect to pay no more than $5 - $7. Tipples include the 'Jungle Bird' (Goslings Black Seal Rum, pineapple juice, Campari), and 'Remember The Alamo', made with Counterpoint dry hopped gin, Cynar, Curaçao and house Douglas fir bitters.

8. Seven Grand

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3054 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 269-8820
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You can nab a house cocktail for only $5 at this dapper whiskey lounge during its somewhat under the radar happy hour. Stop by between 5 – 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and enjoy an Old Fashioned, or branch out with a 'Derby Days' (Old Crow Bourbon, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, honey syrup, mint), or 'Julian Sour' made with Lairds Apple Brandy, Old Crow Bourbon, apple syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice and egg white.

9. NuNu's

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3537 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-2878
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Quite possibly the most affordable mixed drink in the metro area, San Diego institution Nunu’s serves up some pretty stiff $3 Cherry Bombs and Lemon Cosmos during their daily happy hour. Stop by Monday through Friday (1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.), pull up a barstool - or take a seat in one of the Naugahyde booths - and, as their website suggests, why not make this your “office away from home-office” for an afternoon.

10. High Dive Bar & Grill

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1801 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 275-0460
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Beloved by many in Bay Park and beyond, this upscale dive bar delivers some newly elevated eats from chef RoseAna Peyron and a killer cocktail list from Ryan Andrews. Every Tuesday, the High Dive busts out the Moai mugs and Armada bowls for Tiki Tuesday –– imbibers clad in appropriately themed attire can enjoy $2 off all things Tiki including drinks like the Pain Reliever, Hai-Tai, The Diver and Walking Dead from 5 – 10 p.m.

1. Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

2202 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
This Park West gastro pub runs a great happy hour, Monday through Friday 4:30 – 6 p.m., when one of their featured daily craft cocktails costs just $8. Made with fig-infused Slow Hand Six Woods Whiskey, Armada Oloroso Sherry, lime juice, cane syrup and black walnut bitters the Fig Poppa is the latest addition to the lineup –– be sure to snag one this month along with some of Carl Schroeder’s award-winning eats.
2202 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

2. El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

1030 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
One of San Diego’s first bona fide craft cocktail bars, this western-themed watering hole is an institution among drinkers in the know. From specialties and classics to old favorites, all cocktails cost $9 except during happy hour (daily until 9 p.m.) when seasonal varieties will only set you back $6. Tipples include the mezcal-based Gypsy Tears, and Bikini Bottom with Clément Rhum Agricole, lime, pineapple shrub, and Clément Coconut Liqueur.
1030 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

3. Cat Eye Club

370 7th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Stop by this swanky lounge for Cool Cat Karaoke on Thursdays when Cat Tais (Monkey coconut rum, Cruzan aged light rum, pineapple, felernum, Cruzan black strap rum), and Long Islands (rum, New Amsterdam gin, vodka, tequila, triple sec, sweet & sour, splash of coke) are only $6. While most cocktails on the regular menu come in at $10 or over, the Enchanted Youth (pomegranate syrup, brut sparkling wine) is pretty reasonable at $9 a pop.
370 7th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

4. Nectar Room

1409 C St, San Diego, CA 92101
This laid back little cocktail bar in East Village covers all the bases with a menu featuring plenty of $8 options on gin, tequila, agave, and rum-based beverages, plus some tiki options too. Mules are also $8 each and can either be made Moscow (vodka), Samurai (whiskey), Shogun (tequila) or Kraken-style with rum. Don't forget to take a buck off every 'Nectar Treat' during happy hour, which runs between 5 – 7 p.m., and again between 10 p.m. until midnight.
1409 C St
San Diego, CA 92101

5. Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop

640 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
While most specialty cocktails at this chic East Village chophouse come in around the $12 - $14 price point, you can snag one for $7 during happy hour, every Tuesday to Friday from 4 – 7 p.m. Current creations from head bartender Garth Flood and his team include 'Calamity Gin' (Plymouth Gin with lime juice, grapefruit juice, sage, simple syrup), and 'The Horse Thief', made with Benchmark Bourbon, Carpano Antiqua vermouth and Jägermeister bitters.
640 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

6. Starlite

3175 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
Another of San Diego’s original fine cocktail purveyors, this much-loved India Street hotspot serves up their famed Kentucky Colonels every Wednesday for only $8. Imbibers can also beat those 'back to work blues' with $8 mules every Sunday and Monday; or take $2 off specialty cocktails during happy hour, which runs daily between 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Made with Ixa Blanco Tequila, lime, agave nectar and salt, Tim’s Margarita is a must-try.
3175 India St
San Diego, CA 92103

7. Counterpoint

830 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102
Golden Hills’ hip bar/eatery serves up some splendidly priced signature drinks, with all cocktails coming in at a very affordable $9 each. During happy hour (Sunday through Thursday, 5 – 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. until midnight) expect to pay no more than $5 - $7. Tipples include the 'Jungle Bird' (Goslings Black Seal Rum, pineapple juice, Campari), and 'Remember The Alamo', made with Counterpoint dry hopped gin, Cynar, Curaçao and house Douglas fir bitters.
830 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102

8. Seven Grand

3054 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
You can nab a house cocktail for only $5 at this dapper whiskey lounge during its somewhat under the radar happy hour. Stop by between 5 – 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and enjoy an Old Fashioned, or branch out with a 'Derby Days' (Old Crow Bourbon, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, honey syrup, mint), or 'Julian Sour' made with Lairds Apple Brandy, Old Crow Bourbon, apple syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice and egg white.
3054 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

9. NuNu's

3537 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Quite possibly the most affordable mixed drink in the metro area, San Diego institution Nunu’s serves up some pretty stiff $3 Cherry Bombs and Lemon Cosmos during their daily happy hour. Stop by Monday through Friday (1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.), pull up a barstool - or take a seat in one of the Naugahyde booths - and, as their website suggests, why not make this your “office away from home-office” for an afternoon.
3537 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

10. High Dive Bar & Grill

1801 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110
Beloved by many in Bay Park and beyond, this upscale dive bar delivers some newly elevated eats from chef RoseAna Peyron and a killer cocktail list from Ryan Andrews. Every Tuesday, the High Dive busts out the Moai mugs and Armada bowls for Tiki Tuesday –– imbibers clad in appropriately themed attire can enjoy $2 off all things Tiki including drinks like the Pain Reliever, Hai-Tai, The Diver and Walking Dead from 5 – 10 p.m.
1801 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110

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