Cheers-Oct 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 29 of 35 30 • October 2016 SCENE By Kelly Magyarics San Diego shines with speakeasies, neighborhood bars, cocktails on tap and Tiki concoctions. Here's a look at some of the new and noteworthy bars and restaurants in this sun- ny Southern California city. NOBLE EXPERIMENT Don't look for a sign for this 35-seat bar in San Diego's Gaslamp District. Walk inside The Neighborhood Restaurant, head toward the restrooms and push against the stack of fake beer kegs, which yields to reveal a door to a speakeasy named for the failure that was Prohibition. Inside Noble Experiment, the 35-seat bar's back wall is decorated with small brass skulls, and the ornate menus are embossed in gold. The cocktails, priced from $15 to $17, are a study in the old and the new, with two drinks in each of seven categories. There's also a Dealer's Choice option for the adventurous or indecisive, in which a guest names the spirit and bartenders take care of the rest. "We find old drinks that have withstood time, and we seek to understand why they endure," explains Anthony Schmidt, beverage director at parent company CH Projects, which opened Noble Experiment in 2009. "Next, we add a new ingredient that enhances the others. This could be in- fused herb, fruit, spice or tea, a new liqueur or cordial we've created, or a dash of a shrub, tincture or bitters." In addition to classic Martinis, Noble Experiment has sa- vory Dirty Program with house-made brine, fino sherry and "pickled things." There's also Mai Tais, or the updated Surfer Rosa, with Jamaican pot-still rum, gentian aperitif, almond cordial, pineapple, lime and Caribbean spices. "San Diego has a rich history of Tiki traditions dating back to the '40s and '50s," Schmidt points out. Because it's a vacation destination for so many, it's not surprising that exotic cocktails would hit their stride in the city. And with no food or wine list and just Champagne offered, Noble Experiment can concentrate on cocktails. "Our focus is 'what's next? ' We ask ourselves how we can do the classics better or how can we improve the sta- tus quo," Schmidt says. In a city thirsty for good tipples, whether tropical drinks served in coconut shells or savory sips made with drinking vinegars, celery juice or miso, this bar is one experiment that's a resounding success. POLITE PROVISIONS Wall cabinets filled with jars, a 100-ft. marble bar top, brass trim and inlaid coin marble flooring give Polite Provisions a golden era, American apothecary and soda fountain vibe. This 130-seat Normal Heights bar, opened in 2013 and also operated by CH Projects, is housed in a restored 1920s home that before its current incarnation was a small, seedy bar. "The atmosphere is meant to provide a neighborhood place that promotes socializing and community," explains general manager Aaron Zieske. But you don't need a spoon- ful of sugar to get any of Polite Provisions' tonics or elixirs —created by partner and award-winning bartender Erick Castro—down the hatch. Behind the bar, a 46-tap keg system dispenses kegged wines and draft cocktails, like the garden-inspired First Lady ($8), with London dry gin, blueberry and Lily's lavender soda. Need something more spirit-forward? Also on draft is the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique ($10), a smoky and earthy blend of mezcal, Punt e Mes, espresso liqueur and chocolate bitters. As this is San Diego, one of the sunniest cities in the country— where the temperature averages 70 degrees—lighter, thirst-quench- ing sips are always in style. "Refreshing, summertime drinks with unfamiliar spirits or house- made specialty ingredients always get a lot of traction," Zieske says. "The Millionaire Playboy (priced at $10), for example, uses CHECKING OUT THE COCKTAILS IN "AMERICA'S FINEST CITY" PHOTO CREDIT: ZACK BENSON Above, the 35-seat Noble Experiment boasts an ornate, gothic-inspired decor and cocktails, priced around $16, that represent both classic and contemporary styles. Right, Polite Provisions boasts wall cabinets lined with jars, a 100-ft.-long marble bar top, brass trim and inlaid coin marble flooring, which all lend an apothecary and soda fountain vibe.

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