Food & Drink

The 7 best places to drink (and eat!) whiskey in San Diego

Published On 04/23/2014 Published On 04/23/2014
Best Whiskey Bars SD
Sara Norris

Whiskey is so versatile. You can shoot it, sip it, mix it, and even cook with it -- but no matter how you take it, here are the seven best places in San Diego to get your hands on more of it. Like Mark Twain once said, "Too much of anything is bad, but too much whiskey is barely enough." And that dude wrote Huckleberry Finn. You should listen to him.

Best Selection: It'd be a disservice to pick just one here, so it comes down to a tie between Seven Grand and Aero Club. There are well over 1,300 varieties of whiskey between these two bars, and with a ridiculous selection like that, how could we be forced to choose? It all comes down to location and your preference in atmosphere. The breakdown:

Seven Grand
North Park
Over in North Park, Seven Grand makes itself a whiskey go-to with 540 different types. It has a moody, hunting lodge-like feel where you can sip on a glass of whiskey and puff on a cigar. You can even join the Seven Grand Whiskey Society, which is kind of like a really cool secret society (except that it's posted on their website and isn’t really that secret) in which you get to try a lot of whiskey twice a month at tastings hosted by master distillers and international brand ambassadors.

Aero Club

Aero Club
Mission Hills
If you’re near the airport, Aero Club is conveniently right off the freeway in Mission Hills. You can’t miss it under that neon sign that sort of looks like a rocket. Upon your first glance at the pool tables and vinyl-covered booths, you might think you’ve walked into any old dive bar, but with more than 800 whiskeys to choose from, it's more than just a dive bar. It's a dive bar with SO MUCH whiskey.

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

Best Way to Drink Local: Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
Mira Mesa
Of course we all associate the name Ballast Point with great beer, but have you tried their liquor? They are now distilling rum, gin, vodka, and three varieties of Devil’s Share whiskey. Pick your poison; single malt, bourbon, or moonshine. You can taste them all in their speakeasy-inspired tasting room at their Old Grove location.

Sara Norris

Best Whiskey for Dessert: Beaumont’s
Bird Rock
As if crème brûlée wasn’t delicious enough on its own, Beaumont’s boozy Makers Mark Crème Brûlée takes this traditional French dessert to a whole other level with an entire shot of whiskey per serving. Top that off with a little popcorn and brown butter powder and you’ve got a perfect threesome (calm down) of dessert, drink, and bar snack.

Sara Norris

Best Edible Whiskey, Savory-Style: Salt & Cleaver
On its own, poutine is already a mouth-watering trifecta of fries, gravy, and cheese curds. So it’s basically the best food that has ever come out of Canada besides maple syrup… and Canadian bacon… and Canadian whisky. Salt & Cleaver has ditched their regular sausage menu to make this Red Eye Poutine: fries and white cheddar cheese curds covered in a gravy made with coffee, pork stock, Tabasco, and Templeton Rye.

Sara Norris

Best Place to Drink All the Whiskey: Neighborhood
Feeling fickle? Treat yourself to an entire flight of whiskey at Neighborhood so you can try them all. Now all you have to do is decide which flight you want: bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, American whiskey, or whiskey whiskey. Decisions, decisions…

Sara Norris

Best New Old Fashioned: Jsix
East Village
The cocktail list at Jsix has a drink to represent each region of the country: Midwest, South, Northeast -- you get the idea. Representing the West is a twist on an Old Fashioned called the Big Sky -- High West Double Rye made in Utah (the West), Angostura bitters, orange, and house-made syrup infused with cinnamon, bacon, and cayenne. 

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1. Seven Grand 3054 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

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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2. The Aero Club Bar 3365 India St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Mission Hills)

The first thing you’ll notice after landing at Lindbergh Field is a pink neon sign glittering in the distance. Let it guide you to this San Diego drinking den that's been serving whiskey aficionados since 1947. The Aero Club boasts some 800 bottles of whiskey stacked like glass bottle-shaped Legos behind the bar; more than a sight to behold, this infamous liquor wall is one of the largest whiskey collections in the country.

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3. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits 10051 Old Grove Rd, San Diego, CA 92131 (Mira Mesa)

In a city with its fair share of breweries, Ballast Point manages to distinguish itself. Not only does it offer a wide variety of beers for every brew patron's palette, it also concocts its own in-house spirits. Originality is the name of the game here and you'll find some distinct and exotic flavors that no other brew crew can duplicate.

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4. Beaumont's 5662 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

Beaumont’s is a Bird Rock gathering place with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus live music and a full bar. This versatile venue buzzes incessantly with locals here for the modern comfort food and warm ambience. Expect fusion iterations of American diner food like carne asada eggs Benedict with avocado and cilantro Hollandaise; a house burger loaded with sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic glazed onions, feta, and basil aioli; and wedge salad with fried chicken, bacon, and blue cheese. Cocktails are varied but familiar in flavor too, like the Narcissist with rye, ginger, and honey.

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5. Salt & Cleaver 3805 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

This sausage spot is slinging weiners served any way you like them, or (for those on the "protected" menu), exactly the way the chef intended them. Add to that some badass features like chain-link fences and wrought iron everywhere, and you've got yourself a sausage that's going to be hard to miss.

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6. Neighborhood 777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

Neighborhood's a gastropub inspired by both the pubs of England and izakayas of Japan.

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7. Jsix Restaurant 616 J St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

This resto places emphasis on locally-grown ingredients in its seasonally-inspired cuisine. There's even an herb garden on the roof, which is about as locally-grown as you can get.