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Where the Bartenders Drink With Fairweather's Anthony Schmidt

The craft cocktail guru shares his favorite places to imbibe.

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Before he was the big name that he is now, Anthony Schmidt moonlighted as a bouncer at a sampling of local nightlife joints. It was at this gig that he met Nathan Stanton, one of the masterminds behind popular San Diego hotspot, El Dorado Cocktail Lounge. A mutual enthusiasm for the cocktail scene was established, and Anthony spent the next ten years immersing himself in the culture and history of the classic American cocktail. Since then, Schmidt has brought his honed craft to the successful launch of four spaces in San Diego--Noble Experiment, Craft & Commerce, El Dorado and Polite Provisions--all of which are part of the Consortium Holdings Projects, and along the way has earned an impressive smattering of prestigious awards. Now we find him at his most recent venture: the launch of his dual-concept spot, Fairweather and Rare Form, a bar-meets-deli in which he is deeply involved in the cocktail program.

Fairweather, the bar aspect of the dual concept, is an extension of Rare Form, which boasts an impressive menu that far exceeds the flavor expectations of your average deli. The menu at Fairweather is equally impressive in its own right, focused around Mezcal, tequila and rum, featuring classics like margaritas and daiquiris alongside original concoctions such as the Hot Oaxacan (a mezcal drink said to cure anything) and the Painkiller (a multi-rum blended drink from the Virgin Islands). Each cocktail follows, to some extent, a tropical island theme, which is fitting for Fairweather’s rooftop location and vibrant beach vibe decor. If Schmidt’s magic touch in the past is any indication of how Fairweather will fare, it looks like this place will be another craft cocktail success. And we can’t thank Anthony enough for bringing yet another unique gem onto the scene.

Here, read what Schmidt has to say about his favorite local watering holes to frequent when he’s not behind the bar shaking and stirring up another great cocktail.

Consortium Holdings: A Social and Culinary Collective [Official Site]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Sycamore Den

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3391 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 563-9019
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The “Cheers" of San Diego's fancy cocktail collective. An unfortunate aspect of many cocktail lounges is high-brow conduct with guests, and the general assumption that all guests should take their bartenders opinion as gospel. Elitist pricks. But, the crew at Sycamore is uncommonly approachable. They understand the value of being a bartender first, then stressing importance of well executed drinks. The drinks remain sophisticated, while service is no frills, no assumptions. it’s about what you want and how they can make it happen for you. It isn’t about them. I love them for this. Very necessary.

2. Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

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2202 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-0222
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Restaurant bar supreme. No debate. The best restaurant bar in San Diego. Best cocktails (obviously with Christian and Brian making drank). Best bar food by a long margin. Even killer wine and beer. I’ve nursed many a hangover with their legendary burger paired with some form of negroni-like sustenance. A good and necessary place.

3. El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

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1030 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 237-0550
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I’m biased. F*ck it. So what. It was, and always will be, my first love. My highschool sweetheart. I sharpened my proverbial knives here. And it remains the dive bar who makes well crafted drinks. With entertainment fading away from the craziness of major bookings, I’m only more drawn to the lounge and its secluded ambiance. My own cocktail cave. Nobody cares if I order a beer. Nobody cares if I order vodka. And if I order a negroni, they ask which vermouth or gin I prefer. Uncommon in the best way.

4. Turf Supper Club

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1116 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 234-6363
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Sort of a dive. But alway busy. Always friends in there too. Turf's aesthetic remains painfully timeless and kitchy. Their drinks remain dangerously stiff. The food remains cheap and tasty enough. In comparison, Turf satisfies where the elite cocktail bar could never on so many levels. It’s the pursuit of so many new operators. And to the cocktail bar / restaurant who can achieve this? Enjoy your success, because you win.

5. Noble Experiment

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777 G St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 888-4713
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I will admit: returning here was awkward. I went from impacting every detail, to sitting idle at the bar. I had to relearn how to be a guest at Noble. But, finally now, I can rest at ease and enjoy the team's mindful execution. I’ve also noticed the crew evolve, becoming more sensible of conduct with guests, not holding themselves too tight around the collar. Just fancy enough. it’s a nice dance now. Recently, me and a fun loving crew were sitting at the bar literally rolling dice, LOL’ing, celebrating, playing games, all while the staff danced through service. For a moment, I was painfully jealous. Then, I realized: Holy Shit, Noble is a real bar with real people, nothing is too choreographed, and they’re still making the best drinks. It was perfect. It was as bars were intended to be. It was what I dreamed about when I was bartending there nightly. Now I’m just proud of them. And want to spend more time with them.

6. Tiger!Tiger!

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3025 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 764-5475
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The beer bar is essential. Any San Diego Drinking hit list is doomed without one. Considering the category (Beer Bar), Tiger!Tiger! has: Best Beer. Best Food. Best in Show. Simple as that.

7. Basic Urban Kitchen & Bar

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410 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 531-8869
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One part dive, one part crackin’ party. Always friendly staff. Weekdays, it’s become a post-shift oasis for the RF/FW crew. For good reason. It’s just a friendly neighborhood bar. Want food late? Sure. Wanna make it clap on a Friday? Perfect. Wanna get away from the gaslamp scene, but still wanna party? Yep. Solid beers, great food, even decent cocktails. It’s all one needs. An institution.

8. Pacific Beach Shore Club

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4343 Ocean Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 272-7873
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San Diego’s quintessential beach bar. the best of the best. The worst of the worst. Never has a bar been more aware, or more perfect for their audience. Red Bull + Vodka slushies. I mean, cmon. Remarkable. Dare I say… timeless.

1. Sycamore Den

3391 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
The “Cheers" of San Diego's fancy cocktail collective. An unfortunate aspect of many cocktail lounges is high-brow conduct with guests, and the general assumption that all guests should take their bartenders opinion as gospel. Elitist pricks. But, the crew at Sycamore is uncommonly approachable. They understand the value of being a bartender first, then stressing importance of well executed drinks. The drinks remain sophisticated, while service is no frills, no assumptions. it’s about what you want and how they can make it happen for you. It isn’t about them. I love them for this. Very necessary.
3391 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

2. Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

2202 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Restaurant bar supreme. No debate. The best restaurant bar in San Diego. Best cocktails (obviously with Christian and Brian making drank). Best bar food by a long margin. Even killer wine and beer. I’ve nursed many a hangover with their legendary burger paired with some form of negroni-like sustenance. A good and necessary place.
2202 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

3. El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

1030 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
I’m biased. F*ck it. So what. It was, and always will be, my first love. My highschool sweetheart. I sharpened my proverbial knives here. And it remains the dive bar who makes well crafted drinks. With entertainment fading away from the craziness of major bookings, I’m only more drawn to the lounge and its secluded ambiance. My own cocktail cave. Nobody cares if I order a beer. Nobody cares if I order vodka. And if I order a negroni, they ask which vermouth or gin I prefer. Uncommon in the best way.
1030 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

4. Turf Supper Club

1116 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102
Sort of a dive. But alway busy. Always friends in there too. Turf's aesthetic remains painfully timeless and kitchy. Their drinks remain dangerously stiff. The food remains cheap and tasty enough. In comparison, Turf satisfies where the elite cocktail bar could never on so many levels. It’s the pursuit of so many new operators. And to the cocktail bar / restaurant who can achieve this? Enjoy your success, because you win.
1116 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102

5. Noble Experiment

777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
I will admit: returning here was awkward. I went from impacting every detail, to sitting idle at the bar. I had to relearn how to be a guest at Noble. But, finally now, I can rest at ease and enjoy the team's mindful execution. I’ve also noticed the crew evolve, becoming more sensible of conduct with guests, not holding themselves too tight around the collar. Just fancy enough. it’s a nice dance now. Recently, me and a fun loving crew were sitting at the bar literally rolling dice, LOL’ing, celebrating, playing games, all while the staff danced through service. For a moment, I was painfully jealous. Then, I realized: Holy Shit, Noble is a real bar with real people, nothing is too choreographed, and they’re still making the best drinks. It was perfect. It was as bars were intended to be. It was what I dreamed about when I was bartending there nightly. Now I’m just proud of them. And want to spend more time with them.
777 G St
San Diego, CA 92101

6. Tiger!Tiger!

3025 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104
The beer bar is essential. Any San Diego Drinking hit list is doomed without one. Considering the category (Beer Bar), Tiger!Tiger! has: Best Beer. Best Food. Best in Show. Simple as that.
3025 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

7. Basic Urban Kitchen & Bar

410 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
One part dive, one part crackin’ party. Always friendly staff. Weekdays, it’s become a post-shift oasis for the RF/FW crew. For good reason. It’s just a friendly neighborhood bar. Want food late? Sure. Wanna make it clap on a Friday? Perfect. Wanna get away from the gaslamp scene, but still wanna party? Yep. Solid beers, great food, even decent cocktails. It’s all one needs. An institution.
410 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

8. Pacific Beach Shore Club

4343 Ocean Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
San Diego’s quintessential beach bar. the best of the best. The worst of the worst. Never has a bar been more aware, or more perfect for their audience. Red Bull + Vodka slushies. I mean, cmon. Remarkable. Dare I say… timeless.
4343 Ocean Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

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