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Five holiday cocktails with a white ceramic tree and silver garland. You & Yours Distilling Co’s.

The Hottest Cocktail Bars in San Diego, December 2022

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

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Twinkling lights crisscross dark ceilings and patios up and down the coast. Polyester snow and glittery bows adorn doors and walls. San Diego is thirsty for holiday cheer, the kind found in the jiggers and tongs of local bars where bartenders keep peppermint schnaps and cinnamon-infused syrups in easy reach for elaborate creations or straight-to-the-point shots.

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; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Frankie's

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Popular local bartender Leigh Lacap is the new general manager at Frankie’s, a bar by and for bartenders and service industry folk. There are small bites available Wednesday through Sunday, too, including wings, corn dogs, and strawberry shortcake.

A photo of the interior of a bar. Jane Fritzenkotter

Campfire

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A new roasty, toasty cocktail menu by bar manager Nick Sinutko pulls the campfire behind the bar with smoked and grilled elements. Indulge in drinks like the El Centro, with smoked oat milk chai and mezcal, or the Kentucky Crest with roasted nectarines, hojicha tea, and rye.

Icy white cocktails in dark room.
Campfire.
Elodie Bost

The Marine Room

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The recently opened Lounge at the Marine Room offers arguably the best ocean view in San Diego. The premier setting offers equally premier cocktails like the Oaxacan Night with Illegal mezcal, St. Germain, and lavender-blackberry shrub. Reservations and minimum purchase are required.

Amber cocktail in cut crystal glass with smoke.
The Marine Room.
The Marine Room

La Valencia Hotel

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Cozy up with fire pits and an ocean view at La Valencia Hotel’s Patio Sol pop-up. All month long, enjoy beverage director Rachel Young’s festive menu with a Spiced Cranberry Hot Toddy or an Apple Cider Mule with fresh pressed cider, lime, and ginger beer.

Fire pit and cozy seating with cocktails on small table.
La Valencia Hotel
Marley Kepano

Recently opened along Wall Street, Marisi brings the flavors and sensibilities of the Amalfi coast to La Jolla. Vice president of bar and spirits Beau du Bois offers a menu of classics cocktails, from a horseshoe-shaped bar where you can sip on a Bellini made with clarified white peach or a gin and tonic enhanced with a splash of white port.

Realm Of The 52 Remedies

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Tea-infused cocktails are laced into the Eternal Remedies menu at Convoy’s Realm of the 52 Remedies. Highlights include the Earl Grey featuring Kasama Filipino rum with Jura 10 years single-malt Scotch, saline water, honey, and cinnamon cream.

Cocktail with a large branded ice cube glowing in yellow light.
Realm of the 52 Remedies.
James Tran

The Jolly Joker Tavern

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This Kearny Mesa bar goes all out for Christmas and this year is no exception. Find the space decorated with twinkling lights, pine trees, and an eight-foot-tall Bumble the abominable snowman. Get into the spirit with their holiday specials like Christmas by the Campfire with mezcal, cherries, and chocolate bitters or si pon a Naughty Elf-nog spiked with gingerbread rum.

The Fishery

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The growing cocktail program by Eddie Avila continues to impress. Known for its milk punch, the latest version is infused with Beto gin, Italicus rosolio, bergamot, Luxardo bitter bianco, and Rare Tea Co. chamomile flowers. Other recent releases include An Olive Grove in Nice with vodka, grapefruit, and Vicario olive leaf liqueur.

Deep rose-colored cocktail with a single ice cube and dark purple leaf garnish.
Portable Magic at the Fishery.
Eric Wolfinger

The Duck Dive

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This Pacific Beach watering hole is pouring its way through the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol with nine themed cocktails, from Marley’s Ghost with gin, rosemary, and pink peppercorn to the Great Dickens featuring Jim Beam with blood orange, fresh beet cordial, ginger, and bubbles.

Miniature Christmas tree and a flutter of snow on the bar with a golden cocktail.  The Duck Dive / Facebook

The Grass Skirt

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Sippin’ Santa returns The Grass Skirt. Along with the line up of house tiki cocktails, find holiday cheer in a punch bowl of Rudolph’s Rum Rhapsody when it arrives with Santa loungin in a tiki-style hot tub.

Polite Provisions

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The Miracle on 30th Street returns to Polite Provisions. By day, sunlight glows off tinsel garlands and golden accents but at night hundreds of twinkling bulbs sparkle in the air. Sip cocktails like the T-Rex made with vodka, orange liqueur, aloe vera, and pomegranate or vintage-style mugs of eggnog.

Til-Two Club

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Very Hellish Holiday returns to the City Heights drink haven. The December menu includes 10 Krampus/Holiday inspired cocktails such as the Milk of Satan with apple cinnamon infused vodka, Mexican spiced coffee liqueur, and finished with honey cream liqueur.

Common Stock

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Celebrate the holidays with cocktails as unique as Hillcrest. Chris D’Apice and his Common Stock bar team are pouring new classics like the Pumpkin-Tini with Jackie’s Jams pumpkin butter and vodka with toasted coconut milk under a smoky nutmeg bubble.

Common Stock
Six colorful cocktails in dappled light.

The Presley

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Holiday cocktails join the lineup at this Liberty Station bar. Grab a seat by the fire pit and sip on a Holly Berry Sour with bourbon, cranberry, and vanilla chai simple syrup or jump straight into the holiday spirit with peppermint schnapps and crème de cacao North Pole Shot.

Three cocktails on a wood table.
The Presley
Courtesy of Good Time Design

Mister A's

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An icon of the San Diego sky, the newly remodeled rooftop restaurant offers unparalleled views and a revamped cocktail menu to match. For the holidays enjoy bar manager Alvin Pulgeda’s Elf on the Twelfth menu which includes shareable drinks like a festive Christmas punch and memorable night caps like a take-home elf hanging from a glass of cinnamon rum, bourbon cream, and mint whipped cream.

Holly and ribbon printed glass with orange peel and rosemary.
Mister A’s
Coursey Photo

Mothership

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Kindred's Permanent Vacation nights proved so popular they got their own spinoff bar. Immerse yourself in a fanciful world of intergalactic spaceship-meets-strange-new-world with titillating cocktails like the Homing Beacon, a swirl of rum and apricot brandy with cascara, coconut, and a float of hibiscus.

Pink and white cocktails on blue background.
Homing Beacon at Mothership.
Kimberly Motos

Vistal Bar + Restaurant

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Signature holiday cocktails join the line-up at this bayfront bar. Indulge in a Bird Across the Bay with rum, apple cider, and earl grey or stay cozy with the Abuelita, a warming mug of tequila-spiked hot chocolate topped with smoky marshmallows.

Mug with marshmallows and sprigs of pine.
Vistal Bar + Restaurant
Kimberly Motos

Parq Nightclub

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The downtown nightclub has transformed into Santa’s Lair with a holiday pop-up experience that offers music, dancing, and spirited cocktails. Warm up with a Fireside Chat, a mug of Grand Marnier, amaretto, mezcal, and house-made champurrado hot chocolate then cool off with a Candy Cane-tini with peppermint patty coffee, chocolate liquer, and cinnamon cream.

Dark club with strings of Christmas lights and a tall tree. Parq Nightclub

Patrick’s Gaslamp Pub

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Rocking downtown since 1933, this downtown pub’s December line-up of live music and late-night holiday libations attract locals and tourists alike. Enjoy seasonal cocktails such as the Irish You a Merry Christmas with Glendalough Irish Whiskey and apple cider or the Maple Cinnamon Whiskey Sour with Knob Creek Bourbon, maple, and a pinch of cinnamon. 

Three cocktails with pine and Christmas lights.
Patrick's Gaslamp Pub
Courtesy of Good Time Design

You & Yours Distilling Co.

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Holiday cocktails are brewing at You & Yours Distilling Co. Now through January 1, enjoy the brand new Gingerbread White Russian, a debut of their Up & At ‘Em Coffee Liqueur with ginger, molasses, and cookie crumbles. Or have a white Christmas with their London dry gin with coconut milk, rosemary, and sage.

White cocktail with green leaves and red pomegranate seeds. You & Yours Distilling Co.

LAVO Italian Restaurant

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Find holiday cheer in the heart of the Gaslamp with menu led by Adam Jagoda’s seasonal concoctions. Find comfort with an Everything Nice, featuring St. Rémy Brandy and St. George spiced pear with fresh apple cider and black walnut bitters or cozy up with Sweater Weather shaken with Lazzaroni Amaretto, Ambros Banana whiskey, cinnamon, chocolate bitters, and egg white.

Red orange cocktail with one large block of ice and a sprig of rosemary.
LAVO Italian Restaurant
Courtesy Image

Happy Does Bar

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The Gaslamp Quarter’s groovy retro indoor-outdoor bar is holiday-ready with a slew of new cocktails. Sip on a Let it Snow, a martini glass of Old Forester Bourbon, cinnamon simple syrup, and heavy cream or find the Partridge in a Pear Tree made with pear vodka, white cranberry, cinnamon, and triple sec.

Creamy martini with Christmas ordinates next to it.
Happy Does Bar
Courtesy of Good Time Design

Commodore’s Club at Old Harbor

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With reservations in hand, slip inside the 20-seat speakeasy tucked inside the East Village’s Old Harbor Distilling Company. Cocktails highlight the range of house spirits, like a classic dirty martini made with their Adventure Series Gin to the Pearl Diver with Voyager Cast Rum, lime, orange, gardenia mix, and bitters.

Looking down on cocktails and napkins.
The Commodores Club.
The Commodores Club

Get into the holiday spirit while taking in the ocean air. Now though the end of the year, relish in bartender Erin Coleman’s Salted Caramel Carajillo made with Tres Agaves Reposado Tequila, Licor 43 liqueur and coffee finished with caramel, cream, and a black salt rim. Or savor a Sour Rudolph, a bourbon based cocktail with cinnamon-cranberry syrup, orange sour, and egg white.

Frankie's

Popular local bartender Leigh Lacap is the new general manager at Frankie’s, a bar by and for bartenders and service industry folk. There are small bites available Wednesday through Sunday, too, including wings, corn dogs, and strawberry shortcake.

A photo of the interior of a bar. Jane Fritzenkotter

Campfire

A new roasty, toasty cocktail menu by bar manager Nick Sinutko pulls the campfire behind the bar with smoked and grilled elements. Indulge in drinks like the El Centro, with smoked oat milk chai and mezcal, or the Kentucky Crest with roasted nectarines, hojicha tea, and rye.

Icy white cocktails in dark room.
Campfire.
Elodie Bost

The Marine Room

The recently opened Lounge at the Marine Room offers arguably the best ocean view in San Diego. The premier setting offers equally premier cocktails like the Oaxacan Night with Illegal mezcal, St. Germain, and lavender-blackberry shrub. Reservations and minimum purchase are required.

Amber cocktail in cut crystal glass with smoke.
The Marine Room.
The Marine Room

La Valencia Hotel

Cozy up with fire pits and an ocean view at La Valencia Hotel’s Patio Sol pop-up. All month long, enjoy beverage director Rachel Young’s festive menu with a Spiced Cranberry Hot Toddy or an Apple Cider Mule with fresh pressed cider, lime, and ginger beer.

Fire pit and cozy seating with cocktails on small table.
La Valencia Hotel
Marley Kepano

Marisi

Recently opened along Wall Street, Marisi brings the flavors and sensibilities of the Amalfi coast to La Jolla. Vice president of bar and spirits Beau du Bois offers a menu of classics cocktails, from a horseshoe-shaped bar where you can sip on a Bellini made with clarified white peach or a gin and tonic enhanced with a splash of white port.

Realm Of The 52 Remedies

Tea-infused cocktails are laced into the Eternal Remedies menu at Convoy’s Realm of the 52 Remedies. Highlights include the Earl Grey featuring Kasama Filipino rum with Jura 10 years single-malt Scotch, saline water, honey, and cinnamon cream.

Cocktail with a large branded ice cube glowing in yellow light.
Realm of the 52 Remedies.
James Tran

The Jolly Joker Tavern

This Kearny Mesa bar goes all out for Christmas and this year is no exception. Find the space decorated with twinkling lights, pine trees, and an eight-foot-tall Bumble the abominable snowman. Get into the spirit with their holiday specials like Christmas by the Campfire with mezcal, cherries, and chocolate bitters or si pon a Naughty Elf-nog spiked with gingerbread rum.

The Fishery

The growing cocktail program by Eddie Avila continues to impress. Known for its milk punch, the latest version is infused with Beto gin, Italicus rosolio, bergamot, Luxardo bitter bianco, and Rare Tea Co. chamomile flowers. Other recent releases include An Olive Grove in Nice with vodka, grapefruit, and Vicario olive leaf liqueur.

Deep rose-colored cocktail with a single ice cube and dark purple leaf garnish.
Portable Magic at the Fishery.
Eric Wolfinger

The Duck Dive

This Pacific Beach watering hole is pouring its way through the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol with nine themed cocktails, from Marley’s Ghost with gin, rosemary, and pink peppercorn to the Great Dickens featuring Jim Beam with blood orange, fresh beet cordial, ginger, and bubbles.

Miniature Christmas tree and a flutter of snow on the bar with a golden cocktail.  The Duck Dive / Facebook

The Grass Skirt

Sippin’ Santa returns The Grass Skirt. Along with the line up of house tiki cocktails, find holiday cheer in a punch bowl of Rudolph’s Rum Rhapsody when it arrives with Santa loungin in a tiki-style hot tub.

Polite Provisions

The Miracle on 30th Street returns to Polite Provisions. By day, sunlight glows off tinsel garlands and golden accents but at night hundreds of twinkling bulbs sparkle in the air. Sip cocktails like the T-Rex made with vodka, orange liqueur, aloe vera, and pomegranate or vintage-style mugs of eggnog.

Til-Two Club

Very Hellish Holiday returns to the City Heights drink haven. The December menu includes 10 Krampus/Holiday inspired cocktails such as the Milk of Satan with apple cinnamon infused vodka, Mexican spiced coffee liqueur, and finished with honey cream liqueur.