Food & Drink

8 Female Bartenders in San Diego You Should Know

Published On 10/14/2015 Published On 10/14/2015
Courtesy of Nikki Siglin

Nikki Siglin

Where to find her: Coin-Op (address and info)

Specialty: “I'm a beer girl at heart. I love to pour a nice refreshing Stiegl-Radler with a copita of mezcal by its side. As for cocktails, I like to keep it simple so an Eastside Rickey is always refreshing and a crowd pleaser.” 
What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I love to travel. That's pretty much all I want to do, I must have some gypsy in my blood. I've become obsessed with Baja so I try and go a couple times a month.” 
Her favorite thing about San Diego: “Obviously the weather is amazing, but the friends and family I have because of this amazing town is why I'm in love with San Diego.”

Lori Sokolowski/Thrillist

Sarah Ellis

Where to find her: Sycamore Den (address and info)

Specialty: “I really enjoy different things seasonally. This summer I loved my Silverback Fizz (SelvaRey white rum infused with strawberries, fresh lemon, Giffard Vanille de Madagascar, egg white, cream, and soda water) and as we transition into fall, I've been working on a new Manhattan variation with Ugly California Rise and Shine (a locally produced moonshine infused with coffee from Dark Horse Coffee Roasters), Ancho Reyes, Caffe Lolita, Carpano Antica and mole bitters.”
What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I love hanging out in Normal Heights and around Adams Avenue. A perfect day includes getting a burger at Jaynes Gastropub, grabbing a margarita at Cantina Mayahuel, and going vintage shopping at La Loupe Vintage. I also play guitar in the newly reformed band Lady Parts.”
Her favorite thing about San Diego: “The optimism. Whenever I have friends visit from out of town they always comment about how genuinely nice people are. I think we are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful city and it truly reflects in the quality of interactions that I have both inside and outside of the bar.”

Courtesy of Meghan Balser

Meghan Balser

Where to find her: Seven Grand (address and info)

Specialty: “I like to make Manhattans and variations of the classic cocktail; vermouth and whiskey are the perfect complements.”
What she’s doing when she’s not working: “When I am not working, I am experiencing the burgeoning culinary and cocktail scene in San Diego, and imbibing at industry friends’ bars, spending time at the beach, and traveling to new cities.” 
Her favorite thing about San Diego: “Being from the East Coast, my favorite thing about San Diego is the sunshine, weather, and laid-back vibe of SoCal.”

Courtesy of Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd

Where to find her: Juniper & Ivy (address and info)

Specialty: “Anything with whiskey, amaro, and pastis -- stirred and direct.”
What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I split my time off between soaking up San Diego's beautiful weather, hiking, paddle boarding, or just relaxing on the beach and eating and drinking my way through San Diego's eclectic neighborhoods.”
Her favorite thing about San Diego: “I love two things about this city: the camaraderie in the bartending scene here is great and welcomed me with open arms... and the palm trees!”

Sara Norris/Thrillist
Courtesy of Vanessa Tosi
Courtesy of Adele Stratton

Adele Stratton

Where to find her: Noble Experiment (address and info)

Specialty: “I’d say my specialty is making every guest that walks into my bar feel welcome and comfortable. I also really enjoy the experience of getting to know my patrons and making them unique cocktails based on their preferences.” 
What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I’m usually spending time with my beautiful 8-year-old daughter and hanging out with my Noble Experiment family.”
Her favorite thing about San Diego: “I love the San Diego bar scene. San Diego is becoming such a huge market for cocktails. We have some really incredible bartenders here and I love sitting in front of them.”

Courtesy of Michele Willard

Michele Willard

Where to find her: Bracero Cocina de Raiz (address and info)

Specialty: “I love working with most spirits, but at this time, I am obsessed with mezcal, sotol, and tequila cocktails (shaken and stirred).”
What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I am in love with Yoga Sculpt, so if I’m not behind a bar I am usually practicing Yoga Sculpt or at the beach surfing with my 7-year-old pit bull, Coco.”
Her favorite thing about San Diego: “I grew up in SD so I am very spoiled and in love with the weather. I also love the fact that I have been able to be a part of and watch the craft cocktail scene emerge in San Diego in the last five years. It is really amazing to see how thirsty we have been for it and how we have embraced it.”

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San Diego writer and photographer Sara Norris enjoys consuming cocktails as much as these ladies enjoy making them. Follow her on Instagram @saraknorris.

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1. Coin-Op 3926 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

Take everything awesome about being a kid in the '80s, add a killer craft cocktail list and 20 craft beers on draft and you’ve got Coin-Op, the arcade/bar combo that just opened up in North Park with pinball and more than a dozen vintage games on rotation like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, and Frogger. Score!

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2. Sycamore Den 3391 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

If the San Diego backdrop of beaches and palm trees has somehow got you itching for a getaway, look no further than Sycamore Den. This masculine, woodsy bar feels like a hidden hunting lodge getaway right on Adams. The '70s vibe comes complete with mounted guns, stone and wood lining, and polished leather booths, and the drinks match with a menu that's got a heavy emphasis on whiskey, rye, and bourbon (in craft cocktails and on their own).

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3. Seven Grand 3054 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

Seven Grand prides itself on its extensive whiskey selection and properly poured drinks, so come here if you're looking for a good, stiff drink.

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4. Juniper & Ivy Restaurant 2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

Top Chef: All Stars winner Richard Blais is behind Juniper & Ivy, a Little Italy restaurant that's making moves to put the San Diego dining scene on the same level as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The refined menu is nothing if not creative, and dishes like lobster congee with beef sausage, wagyu short rib with Gruyere-rye bread pudding, and vindaloo-rubbed filet carpaccio prove that Blais' cooking inspiration isn't limited to one cuisine. That said, one of the best things on the menu is also the simplest: the buttermilk drop biscuit with smoked butter.

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5. Noble Experiment 777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101

Noble Experiment calls itself a speakeasy, but it's not much of a secret. The popular drinking den inside Gaslamp Quarter's Neighborhood is so popular that you won't be able to get in without reserving a spot a few days in advance. Trust us though, it's worth it. What looks like a stack of kegs by the restaurant's bathroom is a door that'll lead you to a bar that's best described as vampire's lair meets French catacombs. Order from a simple menu of handcrafted cocktails or take a chance with the Dealer's Choice -- a bartender will concoct something for you based on your personal tastes, and they almost always nail it. Don't let the wall of gilded skulls freak you out, it's all part of the charm.

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6. Bracero Cocina de Raiz 1490 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

Despite its Little Italy locale, Bracero Cocina de Raiz specializes in modern Mexican cuisine. The two-story restaurant features an open kitchen, a crudo bar bursting with Baja seafood, and a menu composed of hot and cold small plates, tacos, and meaty entrees. The cocktail program pays homage to Mexican drink with a well-rounded selection of tequila and mezcal, plus a variety of bacanoras, raicillas, and sotols.