RVSD June 2013 : Page 92
20 | By Amy Finley, Gillian Flynn, Seth Combs and David Morris | | Photography by Robert Benson and Andrea Bricco | WAYS TO SPEND YOUR SUMMER NIGHTS Forget daytime. S.D. comes alive when the sun goes down. From the new cool to the old-school classics, here’s your playbook from dusk till dawn.
20 Ways To Spend Your Summer Nights
Amy Finley, Gillian Flynn, Seth Combs And David Morris
Forget daytime. S.D. comes alive when the sun goes down.
From the new cool to the old-school classics, here’s your playbook from dusk till dawn
1. Revved Up
There’s not hing like rediscovering a classic. And that’s precisely how we’re feeling about the lounge at Manhattan of La Jolla (manhattanof lajolla. Com).Nestled in the Empress Hotel, Manhattan is a den of nostalgic glamour that recently underwent a face-lift. The fish tank is aglow. the vested bartender, Mike, is shaking martinis, and music in the lounge is slap-and-tickle on Thursday and Friday. “It’s a classic old-school piano bar with romantic ambiance,” says Sam Migdal, girl about town and brand ambassador for the new luxury car service app Uber. “Just text Uber” is pretty much the buzz phrase when it comes to safely planning a night on the town.And we have a hunch Migdal, decked out in a vintage frock from Boutique De Marcus downtown, is the reason word spread so fast. Sure, gals like Migdal love the trendy hot spots, but there’s nothing like a classic. “It’s just unexpected and charming for date nights,” she says, “and I love their Grey Goose dirty martini.”
2. Pony Up
Equestrian-inspired, the clubby Pony Room at Rancho Valencia (ranchovalencia.com) has the magical ability to make cares go away. It could be the custom leather chairs (like butter!), the exacting low-cal margarita, or the elegant lighting that casts a romantic glow.We’ll let you decide
3. Liquid Asset
The elegant Grant Grill (usgrant.net) continues its star power with a cocktail program so rule-breaking, the cool kids are starting to slip into the metallic leather and tufted velvet banquettes. It’s all thanks to the Sir-Mix-a-Lot, Je Josenhans, a boutique spirit specialist who had us at his bottle-conditioned Cocktails Sur Lie (oh, that mule!) And his seemingly insatiable yen to raise the bar on classy alcohol consumption. His latest showcase is perfect for summer, enlisting fresh, cold pressed juice. If anyone can reinvent the apple martini, it’s Josenhans. He takes the juice of one whole Granny Smith and adds Casa Noble Blanco, confetti cilantro and key lime.The result? Pure. Liquid. Gold
4. Gin City!
From El Dorado’s dance floor to the bars at Avant and Searsucker, gin is summer’s hottest spirit, taking over the cocktail scene. “It’s vodka’s outgoing, sophisticated older brother,” says Sycamore Den’s Eric Johnson.Sorry, Russia.
5. Glass Act
“Keep Leucadia Funky” is this beach town’s uno cial motto, but with the arrival of a sleek new winery and restaurant, it might want to reconsider. there’s absolutely nothing funky about Solterra (solterrawinery.com). Owner and vintner Christopher Van Alyea handpicked Del Mar architect Brian Church to design the space, a 1957 building that houses a tasting room with garage-style doors that open onto the 101. there’s a bocce court out back and the airy winemaking area is available for private parties.“It’s so di erent because it’s not just a restaurant,” says Church. “It’s casual but there’s a sophistication to it.” The menu goes the Mediterranean tapas route, with lots of flatbreads for sharing and a kicky grilled octopus that pairs perfectly with Van Alyea’s robust cabernet.
6. Draft Picks
There’s no better time to be a beer drinker in S.D., as we gain status as the capital of craft.Our top picks: the modern Culture in Solana Beach, the rule-breaking Ballast Point and Stone Brewing Co. Drum roll—Stone is opening a second brewery and restaurant at Liberty Station. We’re raising a glass
7. Mix Masters
Think you know mixology? Think again!The cocktail mania continues with The Bartender’s Table, the TEDx for tipplers, held nearly weekly at Polite Provisions (politeprovisions.Com). the word-of-mouth happenings bring some of the country’s most notable and knowledgeable bartenders to Erick Castro’s glass-and-brass cocktail temple for collaborative “spirit education.” “It’s about more than just crafting a drink,” says Castro of the boozy seminars, open to the public. “Bartending is a culture, a lifestyle, an experience. this is our way of bringing some of the nation’s top talents together and educating and exciting our guests about the latest innovations shaping the craft cocktail world.” So, what forces will soon be at work behind the bar? Get your glassware ready: Castro’s calling it the summer of the highball.
8. Fire Starter
For couples looking to renew their spark, we have the ultimate plan. throw together a bottle of Billecart-Salmon rosé and a basket of gourmet nibbles (may we suggest Mona Lisa in Little Italy?)And buy two tickets for the ferry crossing from Broadway Pier to Coronado (sdhe.com). Time it right, and you can cross the harbor as the night sky erupts in a riot of reworks and big booms. Destination: romance
9. Play Date
All the world’s a stage as this summer’s Shakespeare Under the Stars at the Old Globe (oldglobe.org) gets new wattage with one of the world’s foremost Bard studs. Consider it designer theater: New Artistic Director Barry Edelstein has shepherded A-listers (Pacino, Paltrow, Hathaway) through the master’s works.
10. Hot Shots
The Snake Oil Cocktail Co.(snakeoilcocktail.Com) crew, already well-known for their bespoke drinks at luxury events across S.D., continue their quest for total libation domination. New filminspired cocktails pair with flicks on the silver screen this summer at chichi Cinépolis (cinepolisusa.com) theaters throughout SoCal. Enjoy your Superman with a Silver Bullet or your The Hangover Part III with a Mr. Chow. It’s the ultimate 3-D movie!
11. Want Your Mex
Margaritas? Yawn. La Caza Club (2612 Calle Miguel Aleman, Col. America) in Tijuana tapped the mixologist from Misión 19 for a mango martini like no other. But then again, anything would taste good in this chic, midcentury den.
12. Charm School
Cafe Chloe (cafechloe.com) has cornered the market on charm.With its chic Left Bank inspiration, the corner East Village hot spot remains our favorite wine boite downtown. And we’re not alone in our devotion: On any given night, couples come in droves to the petite resto with glowing marble counters, where they nibble on charcuterie and honey-drizzled cheese plates.Holding court—and lling glasses of Sancerre—is majordomo John Clute. Part-owner with his wife, he has watched couples navigate the rituals of courtship from rst dates to engagements to anniversaries.Chloe’s recipe for romance? A dish of decadent macaroni and cheese, a splash of rosé and that inimitable je ne sais quoi
13. Burn Notice
Hold the s’mores! ese days, we’re loving our bon res high-style and preferably with cocktails. Toss in a gorgeous view and we’re happy campers. >>> the Rooftop at W San Diego (thewsandiegohotel. Com) features a cheeky re pit from Mr. Important Design and cocktails to toss back with snacks like ceviche with plaintain chips. >>> High atop the Hotel Indigo (hotelindigo.Com) in East Village, Level 9 serves intimate reside cocktails with a panoramic ballpark view.There’s a full dining menu and drinks from the tequila bar next to the 10 new re pits at the waterfront Marriott Marquis & Marina (marriott.com). >>> the Loews (loewshotels. Com) remodel on Coronado brought the Cay’s Lounge to life, including tabletop re pits that practically compete with the stunning downtown view. >>> the nishing touch on Rancho Valencia’s (ranchovalencia. Com) recent restyling? Starlit, hillside re pits that tumble down from the patios outside the Pony Room. Hot
14. Top This
Chicago’s loss was our gain when bartender Nate Howell relocated to Cusp (cusprestaurant.com) atop Hotel La Jolla. It’s time you get your Instagram sunset shot and order a fizz.
15. Mob Hit
When the flash mob, Dîner en Blanc, came to San Diego last summer 1,000 people fled to the Embarcadero location, donning elegant whites and dragging stocked picnic baskets. A little birdy told us the renegade picnic is returning this summer.But as always with le Dîner, the location will remain a mystery until the actual evening when guests are transported to the secret site.the event originated in Paris two decades ago, having been held at the Pont des Arts and the Eiffel Tower. Another le Dîner rule: that the site be public and beautiful.Consider this your hint, San Diego—and have your chic whites at the ready
16. Party Arty
Because everyone needs culture with their vino, don’t miss out on La Jolla’s gallery nights, held every sixth Saturday, when top spots like Quint, Scott White and Madison stay open late. Make an evening of it with dinner in the village
17. The Real Deal
When deals need to be made and special occasions require precision, there’s only one booth where we choose to slink. Service reigns at the family-owned Donovan’s Steak and Chophouse (donovanssteakhouse.com) in La Jolla, where longtime Maitre d’ Victor Rivero, oversees the dining room with Secret Service execution— earpiece included. Regular patrons receive personal etched plaques that are hung over old-school booths in anticipation of arrival (Mr.Spanos has a standing reservation at his table).And no requests are deemed too special. He’s served soldiers last meals before deployment. “ the Marines returned who lost their companion and brought me a flag,” says Rivero. “It’s those stories that keep me here.” Where to sit? there’s six private dining rooms and an elaborate wine room.“Donovan’s is Disneyland for adults.”
18. Grand Plan
Closer than Italy but with all the majesty of a Tuscan hideaway, we like a long, leisurely weekend at The Grand Del Mar (thegranddelmar.com), where a bevy of luxury experiences await when the sun sets.The vaulted dining room of Addison is a stage for culinary pampering, as chef William Bradley’s masterful cooking is paired with top- flight wines from S.D.’s best-curated cellar. It’s the kind of rarefied meal that’s remembered and recounted years after. Club M across the way might not inspire that same kind of wistful nostalgia, but that’s the point; the tony club’s au courant scene is fueled by music and cocktails. And climbing between crisp cotton sheets after a night on the dance floor is our idea of la dolce vita, though the resort’s starlit alfresco Italian movie nights, complete with biscotti and espresso, are a close second. the Summer Concert Series returns July 14 and grooves all summer, bringing acts like soul quartet Delta Rae and the Grammy-nominated Fabulous Thunderbirds to the stage, no passport required.
19. All That Jazz
Anthology’s gone! Croce’s closed (for now)! Where are jazz fans headed? Seven Grand (sevengrandbars.com), where the back room bustles with a mix of hipsters and sophisticates sipping whiskey cocktails and listening to Gilbert Castellanos or Seattle trumpeter Jumaane Smith. “Jazz had flourished downtown for years, but now it’s about North Park,” says booker Peter Graves.Your move, downtown.
20. Queen Bee
Little Italy reigns as a mega-destination, and the latest newcomer, Queenstown Public House (1557 Columbia St.) is every bit worthy of its buzz. No wonder. It’s from the guys who brought us the New Zealand-inspired gem, Raglan in O. B., including design mastermind Michael Soriano. Talk about modern whimsy. For the historic house, Soriano enlisted faux grass for the ceiling and an outdoor “living room” that boasts homey seating nooks. Considering the constant droves, there’s no place like Queenstown
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