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Tiki cocktails in mugs shaped like a T-rex wearing a Santa Hat.
The Grass Skirt.
Melissa Hom

The Hottest Cocktail Bars in San Diego, December 2021

The newest drinks in the city can be found at these bars

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The Grass Skirt.
| Melissa Hom

Seasonal ingredients and festive flavors are on the menu as bars across town and there’s something for everyone looking to celebrate. Find your holiday cheer with the latest batch of cocktail releases hitting San Diego.

The Eater Cocktail Heatmap will be updated frequently to highlight new openings or fresh menus that are generating serious buzz around town.

Know of a cocktail spot with a decent amount of heat that should be added to the list? Send us a note!

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Pacific Coast Spirits

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404 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054
(760) 453-7150
Visit Website

At this Oceanside tasting room you’ll find Pacific Coast Spirits’ small batch, “grain-to-glass” liquors bended into classic, draft, and canned cocktails for dine in and take out. This December, enjoy Santa’s Little Helper with PCS Brandy, mint liquor, pomegranate, lime and a splash of ginger. 50 percent of the proceeds from this cocktail will go towards the Chantiik School in Chiapas, Mexico. 

Pink cocktail with candy cane.
Santa’s Little Helper.
Pacific Coast Spirits/Facebook

2. The Plot

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1733 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054
(442) 266-8200
Visit Website

The Plot’s front-of-house manager Marisa Johnson has created a new craft cocktail menu that celebrates all things botanical including the Neon Prayers with Lillet Blanc, basil, lemon, and sweet vermouth and the Baby Michael with champagne, orgeat, lemon, and bitters.

Petite cocktail garnished with fresh herbs.
The Plot
Israel Palacio

3. Campfire

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2725 State St
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 637-5121
Visit Website

Beverage director, sommelier, and mezcal expert Jeremy Simpson has revamped Campfire’s cocktail menu for the holidays. The Sprezzatura is a fast favorite with Irish whiskey, Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth ,and Pierre Ferrand curacao -nfused with biscotti tea, whole cranberries, and cinnamon. Or try the fragrant Over/Under, a blend of mezcal, concord grape, juniper, rose hip, and lemon.

Herbed cocktail on wood table.
Campfire
Devin Castaneda

4. VAGA Restaurant & Bar

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2100 N Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 452-3484
Visit Website

Chef Claudette Zepeda’s North County spot has plenty of cocktails to pair with world class food and views. Enjoy the weekend with a Sunday Namaste made with You & Yours Gin, basil, fennel, lemon, and grapefruit or take in the Encinitas breeze with a Sea Bluff made with Hendricks Lunar Gin, cucumber essence, nori, fino sherry, and cardamom bitters.

An outdoor lounge area with an ocean view.
VAGA Restaurant & Bar
VAGA Restaurant & Bar/Facebook

5. Cutwater Spirits

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9750 Distribution Ave
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 672-3848
Visit Website

Sink into holidays with the new cocktails by beverage ambassador Laura Price. Explore their new seasonal spirit in the Candy Cane Forest cocktail, made with Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Holiday Spirit, Opah herbal liqueur, creme de menthe, and creme de cacaoor. Or find some sparkle with a Tinseltini, also made with the Bali Hai Tiki Holiday Spirit along with Cutwater white rum, banana, macadamia, and coconut. Looking for a gift? Pick up a 12 canned cocktail Holiday Pack.

A bottle of liquor in a winter setting with snow and pine cones.
Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Holiday Spirit.
Cutwater Spirits

6. Puesto La Jolla

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1026 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-1260
Visit Website

Keep true to the spirit of San Diego and celebrate the holidays with margaritas. This season, Puesto has introduced their first high-end margarita, That Good Good Cadillac made with Siete Leguas Añejo tequila, Grand Marnier and fresh lime. Or find seasonal flavors in the Passion Fruit Margarita with El Tesoro Blanco Tequila, passion fruit, ginger and lime designed by bar and spirits creative director Beau du Bois.

A margarita garnished with an orange slice. Puesto

7. Realm Of The 52 Remedies

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4805 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(619) 780-6675
Visit Website

As the weather cools in San Diego, tea cocktails are all the rage. Sip on a Peach Black Tea punctuated with Jura 10 years single malt scotch, black tea, peach puree, and lemon or find your center with iced chamomile tea blended with Tanqueray No. 10, Bimini overproof gin, Italicus bergamot liqueur, Lo-Fi dry vermouth, and a dash of Luxardo bitter bianco.

8. The Grass Skirt

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910 Grand Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 412-5237
Visit Website

While classics like Mai Tais and Painkillers are available year round, winter marks the return of the Sipping Santa pop-up at Pacific Beach’s tiki hideaway. Through the end of the year, enjoy holiday specials like the Yule Log Grog with gin, falernum, cranberry syrup, ginger liqueur, and lime or the Mistletoe-to-Toe with bourbon, walnut liqueur, Jamaican and Puerto Rican rums, citrus, and maple syrup.

A tiki drink in a mug shaped like a mermaid Santa Claus. Randy Schmidt

9. Wormwood

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4677 30th St
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 915-6706
Visit Website

Enjoy cocktails with hints of anise and fennel at Wormwood, San Diego’s new absinthe bar. Start off with a Spritz Provence, a refreshing glass of Lo Gentian Amaro, Yellow Chartreuse, and prosecco with an absinthe rinse, rosemary, and olive or sip on the Le Frappe anchored by absinthe with anisette, elderflower, creme de menthe, lime, and a splash of soda.

10. Madison

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4622 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 269-6566
Visit Website

Grab a seat on Madison on Park’s heated patio and keep warm with a Paru Tea Bar Hot Toddy made with Okinawa Sugar tea plus Suntory Japanese Whiskey, local honey, lemon, and star anise. New classics by lead bartender Danny Kuehner include the Heavy Metal Drummer which combines Laird’s Bonded apple brandy, St. George spiced pear brandy, lemon, Angostura, and a splash of port.

Golden cocktail on wood table. Haley Hill

11. Verbena Kitchen

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3043 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 269-5776
Visit Website

Verbena Kitchen’s cocktail menu conveys the same level of detail as their food. General manager Dallas Juanes brings his expertise to drinks like White Truffle Bloody Mary with house-fermented gin and and vodka and the popular Verbena Signature Sangria with California pinot noir, fig port, orange liqueur, citrus, and peach.

12. Barrel & Board

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1027 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 902-4646
Visit Website

Barrel & Board’s cocktail menu pays homage to the power woman of pop. Enjoy a Donna Summer-inspired Last Dance with Ilegal Joven Mezcal, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and fresh lime juice or honor Lizzo with a Bombay Bramble with gin, muddled blackberries, lemon, and demerara syrup. Their mocktail menu is as equally thoughtful and fun.

Colorful cocktails with lots of fruit. Barrel & Board

13. Common Stock

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3805 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 310-5298
Visit Website

Common Stock beverage director Eric Wickham recently introduced a new lineup of winter cocktails. Enjoy a revitalization of the 90’s classic, the Espresso Martini, with espresso vodka, James Coffee cold brew, and Jackie’s Pumpkin Butter or try classic December flavors in the Pistachio Pear Sour with You & Yours Provisional Sunday Gin, pistachio cello, pear puree, and lemon.

Espresso martini with scattered coffee beans. Common Stock

14. Cocina De Barrio

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3707 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 677-2770
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Cocina De Barrio delights with their colorful cocktails. Linger over the La Tia Chata, a tumbler of rumchata with lime and coconut popsicle topper or keep things light with a El Fresco de Granada made with mezcal, pomegranate juice, fresh lime juice, and mint.

15. Cesarina

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4161 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 226-6222
Visit Website

With a Bib Gourmand and new full liquor license, Cesarina is celebrating the end of 2021 with eight new cocktails all evoking the warmth of an endless Italian night. Start off with an Maracaibo Spritz, a sparkling glass of vodka, Ramazzotti rosato, prosecco, jamaica, pineapple, and lemon and end the night with the Sara’ Perche’ Ti Amo, a cocktail centered on rye whiskey with Aperol, Amaro Montenegro, Strega, and strawberries.

Pale spritz cocktail on gold table.
Cesarina
Arlene Ibarra

16. Camino Riviera

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2400 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 685-3881
Visit Website

Little Italy’s former El Camino has come back to life as Camino Riviera. The interior envelopes you with moody indirect lights, bouncing pink and purple off rattan pendants and palm fronds, that make you forget you are directly under the airport’s flight path. Sip on cocktails by bar managers Eric Johnson and Leigh Russ like the Sacred Leaf with Tito’s vodka, hoja santa, fennel seed, lemon, and a splash of cava or their house Michelada with Mexican lager. lime, and tajin.

17. Wolfie's Carousel Bar

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2401 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 255-7533
Visit Website

This remarkable new Little Italy bar has a 24-seat circular cocktail carousel bar that slowly spins at its center; it’s where curious guests sip on popular signature cocktails like the Fleur de France with vodka, grapefruit, and crème de violette, or the namesake Wolfie’s Connection with cognac, amaretto, raspberry, and a sprig of rosemary.

Wolfie’s Connection cocktail with a curl of lemon.
Wolfie’s Carousel Bar
Kelly Bone

18. KINDRED

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1503 30th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 546-9653
Visit Website

Kindred is ringing in the holidays with throwback favorites. Catch the return of the Boozy Mexican Hot Chocolate with smoky Mezcal, coffee liqueur, Abuelita chocolate, and spiced oat milk or sip on a warming Necronominog, a vegan brown butter nog spiked with a a holiday spiced rum blend.

Cocktail with black garnish.
Kindred
Courtesy Photo

19. The Guild Bar

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500 W Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 795-6000
Visit Website

The bar within the Guild Hotel has relaunched a classical cocktail menu that pulls from nostalgia but also has a modern eye. Reimagined by lead bartender Robert Chacon in collaboration with bar consultant Lee Zaremba, the bar offers refreshing takes like the Dew Drop with bourbon, ginger, lime, sugar, allspice dram, and pomegranate.

The Guild Bar
Courtesy Photo

20. You & Yours Distilling Co.

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1495 G St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 955-8755
Visit Website

The East Village’s You & Yours continues to impress with its vodkas and gins. Enjoy the house spirits in holiday cocktails like Merry & Bright with London Dry Gin, hibiscus and peppermint tea, blood orange, and mint or an Old Fashioned Christmas with Whiskey Barrel-Aged London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin, cranberry, honey, and orange with a cinnamon sugar and salt rim.

Cocktails with cranberry garnish.
You & Yours Distilling Co.
Megan Jane Burgess

21. Young Blood

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777 G St
San Diego, CA 92101

Slip away from the holiday parties and into the plush and intimate hideaway of Young Blood. Here guests with reservations can embark on a customized, multi-course cocktail experience in a private space hidden behind Neighborhood restaurant and the Noble Experiment bar.

A dimly-lit bar filled with plush bar stools and booth seating.
Young Blood
Arlene Ibarra

22. Callie

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1195 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 255-9696
Visit Website

This East Village hotspot welcomes its first winter with a delightful cocktail lineup by bar lead James Roe and team. Warm up with the Heat Miser, a blend of bourbon, cacao, maple, urfa pepper, and cinnamon bitters topped with whipped cream or sip on the For the Grinches, made with bourbon, amaro meletti, hazelnut, and sage.

Collection of cocktails on a bar.
Callie
Karla Sandoval

1. Pacific Coast Spirits

404 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
Pink cocktail with candy cane.
Santa’s Little Helper.
Pacific Coast Spirits/Facebook

At this Oceanside tasting room you’ll find Pacific Coast Spirits’ small batch, “grain-to-glass” liquors bended into classic, draft, and canned cocktails for dine in and take out. This December, enjoy Santa’s Little Helper with PCS Brandy, mint liquor, pomegranate, lime and a splash of ginger. 50 percent of the proceeds from this cocktail will go towards the Chantiik School in Chiapas, Mexico. 

404 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054

2. The Plot

1733 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
Petite cocktail garnished with fresh herbs.
The Plot
Israel Palacio

The Plot’s front-of-house manager Marisa Johnson has created a new craft cocktail menu that celebrates all things botanical including the Neon Prayers with Lillet Blanc, basil, lemon, and sweet vermouth and the Baby Michael with champagne, orgeat, lemon, and bitters.

1733 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054

3. Campfire

2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Herbed cocktail on wood table.
Campfire
Devin Castaneda

Beverage director, sommelier, and mezcal expert Jeremy Simpson has revamped Campfire’s cocktail menu for the holidays. The Sprezzatura is a fast favorite with Irish whiskey, Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth ,and Pierre Ferrand curacao -nfused with biscotti tea, whole cranberries, and cinnamon. Or try the fragrant Over/Under, a blend of mezcal, concord grape, juniper, rose hip, and lemon.

2725 State St
Carlsbad, CA 92008

4. VAGA Restaurant & Bar

2100 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
An outdoor lounge area with an ocean view.
VAGA Restaurant & Bar
VAGA Restaurant & Bar/Facebook

Chef Claudette Zepeda’s North County spot has plenty of cocktails to pair with world class food and views. Enjoy the weekend with a Sunday Namaste made with You & Yours Gin, basil, fennel, lemon, and grapefruit or take in the Encinitas breeze with a Sea Bluff made with Hendricks Lunar Gin, cucumber essence, nori, fino sherry, and cardamom bitters.

2100 N Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024

5. Cutwater Spirits

9750 Distribution Ave, San Diego, CA 92121
A bottle of liquor in a winter setting with snow and pine cones.
Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Holiday Spirit.
Cutwater Spirits

Sink into holidays with the new cocktails by beverage ambassador Laura Price. Explore their new seasonal spirit in the Candy Cane Forest cocktail, made with Cutwater Bali Hai Tiki Holiday Spirit, Opah herbal liqueur, creme de menthe, and creme de cacaoor. Or find some sparkle with a Tinseltini, also made with the Bali Hai Tiki Holiday Spirit along with Cutwater white rum, banana, macadamia, and coconut. Looking for a gift? Pick up a 12 canned cocktail Holiday Pack.

9750 Distribution Ave
San Diego, CA 92121

6. Puesto La Jolla

1026 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037
A margarita garnished with an orange slice. Puesto

Keep true to the spirit of San Diego and celebrate the holidays with margaritas. This season, Puesto has introduced their first high-end margarita, That Good Good Cadillac made with Siete Leguas Añejo tequila, Grand Marnier and fresh lime. Or find seasonal flavors in the Passion Fruit Margarita with El Tesoro Blanco Tequila, passion fruit, ginger and lime designed by bar and spirits creative director Beau du Bois.

1026 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037

7. Realm Of The 52 Remedies

4805 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

As the weather cools in San Diego, tea cocktails are all the rage. Sip on a Peach Black Tea punctuated with Jura 10 years single malt scotch, black tea, peach puree, and lemon or find your center with iced chamomile tea blended with Tanqueray No. 10, Bimini overproof gin, Italicus bergamot liqueur, Lo-Fi dry vermouth, and a dash of Luxardo bitter bianco.

4805 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111

8. The Grass Skirt

910 Grand Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
A tiki drink in a mug shaped like a mermaid Santa Claus. Randy Schmidt

While classics like Mai Tais and Painkillers are available year round, winter marks the return of the Sipping Santa pop-up at Pacific Beach’s tiki hideaway. Through the end of the year, enjoy holiday specials like the Yule Log Grog with gin, falernum, cranberry syrup, ginger liqueur, and lime or the Mistletoe-to-Toe with bourbon, walnut liqueur, Jamaican and Puerto Rican rums, citrus, and maple syrup.

910 Grand Ave
San Diego, CA 92109

9. Wormwood

4677 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116

Enjoy cocktails with hints of anise and fennel at Wormwood, San Diego’s new absinthe bar. Start off with a Spritz Provence, a refreshing glass of Lo Gentian Amaro, Yellow Chartreuse, and prosecco with an absinthe rinse, rosemary, and olive or sip on the Le Frappe anchored by absinthe with anisette, elderflower, creme de menthe, lime, and a splash of soda.

4677 30th St
San Diego, CA 92116

10. Madison

4622 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
Golden cocktail on wood table. Haley Hill

Grab a seat on Madison on Park’s heated patio and keep warm with a Paru Tea Bar Hot Toddy made with Okinawa Sugar tea plus Suntory Japanese Whiskey, local honey, lemon, and star anise. New classics by lead bartender Danny Kuehner include the Heavy Metal Drummer which combines Laird’s Bonded apple brandy, St. George spiced pear brandy, lemon, Angostura, and a splash of port.

4622 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116

11. Verbena Kitchen

3043 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

Verbena Kitchen’s cocktail menu conveys the same level of detail as their food. General manager Dallas Juanes brings his expertise to drinks like White Truffle Bloody Mary with house-fermented gin and and vodka and the popular Verbena Signature Sangria with California pinot noir, fig port, orange liqueur, citrus, and peach.

3043 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

12. Barrel & Board

1027 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Colorful cocktails with lots of fruit. Barrel & Board

Barrel & Board’s cocktail menu pays homage to the power woman of pop. Enjoy a Donna Summer-inspired Last Dance with Ilegal Joven Mezcal, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and fresh lime juice or honor Lizzo with a Bombay Bramble with gin, muddled blackberries, lemon, and demerara syrup. Their mocktail menu is as equally thoughtful and fun.

1027 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

13. Common Stock

3805 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Espresso martini with scattered coffee beans. Common Stock

Common Stock beverage director Eric Wickham recently introduced a new lineup of winter cocktails. Enjoy a revitalization of the 90’s classic, the Espresso Martini, with espresso vodka, James Coffee cold brew, and Jackie’s Pumpkin Butter or try classic December flavors in the Pistachio Pear Sour with You & Yours Provisional Sunday Gin, pistachio cello, pear puree, and lemon.

3805 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

14. Cocina De Barrio

3707 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

Cocina De Barrio delights with their colorful cocktails. Linger over the La Tia Chata, a tumbler of rumchata with lime and coconut popsicle topper or keep things light with a El Fresco de Granada made with mezcal, pomegranate juice, fresh lime juice, and mint.

3707 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

15. Cesarina

4161 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107
Pale spritz cocktail on gold table.
Cesarina
Arlene Ibarra

With a Bib Gourmand and new full liquor license, Cesarina is celebrating the end of 2021 with eight new cocktails all evoking the warmth of an endless Italian night. Start off with an Maracaibo Spritz, a sparkling glass of vodka, Ramazzotti rosato, prosecco, jamaica, pineapple, and lemon and end the night with the Sara’ Perche’ Ti Amo, a cocktail centered on rye whiskey with Aperol, Amaro Montenegro, Strega, and strawberries.

4161 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107

Related Maps

16. Camino Riviera

2400 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

Little Italy’s former El Camino has come back to life as Camino Riviera. The interior envelopes you with moody indirect lights, bouncing pink and purple off rattan pendants and palm fronds, that make you forget you are directly under the airport’s flight path. Sip on cocktails by bar managers Eric Johnson and Leigh Russ like the Sacred Leaf with Tito’s vodka, hoja santa, fennel seed, lemon, and a splash of cava or their house Michelada with Mexican lager. lime, and tajin.

2400 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

17. Wolfie's Carousel Bar

2401 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Wolfie’s Connection cocktail with a curl of lemon.
Wolfie’s Carousel Bar
Kelly Bone

This remarkable new Little Italy bar has a 24-seat circular cocktail carousel bar that slowly spins at its center; it’s where curious guests sip on popular signature cocktails like the Fleur de France with vodka, grapefruit, and crème de violette, or the namesake Wolfie’s Connection with cognac, amaretto, raspberry, and a sprig of rosemary.

2401 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

18. KINDRED

1503 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102
Cocktail with black garnish.
Kindred
Courtesy Photo

Kindred is ringing in the holidays with throwback favorites. Catch the return of the Boozy Mexican Hot Chocolate with smoky Mezcal, coffee liqueur, Abuelita chocolate, and spiced oat milk or sip on a warming Necronominog, a vegan brown butter nog spiked with a a holiday spiced rum blend.

1503 30th St
San Diego, CA 92102

19. The Guild Bar

500 W Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
The Guild Bar
Courtesy Photo

The bar within the Guild Hotel has relaunched a classical cocktail menu that pulls from nostalgia but also has a modern eye. Reimagined by lead bartender Robert Chacon in collaboration with bar consultant Lee Zaremba, the bar offers refreshing takes like the Dew Drop with bourbon, ginger, lime, sugar, allspice dram, and pomegranate.

500 W Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

20. You & Yours Distilling Co.

1495 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
Cocktails with cranberry garnish.
You & Yours Distilling Co.
Megan Jane Burgess

The East Village’s You & Yours continues to impress with its vodkas and gins. Enjoy the house spirits in holiday cocktails like Merry & Bright with London Dry Gin, hibiscus and peppermint tea, blood orange, and mint or an Old Fashioned Christmas with Whiskey Barrel-Aged London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin, cranberry, honey, and orange with a cinnamon sugar and salt rim.

1495 G St
San Diego, CA 92101

21. Young Blood

777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101