With the craft beer movement in explosion mode, and a brewery opening on every corner, it might be easy to overlook the homegrown distilleries we have right here in San Diego County.
Here are a few local hotspots who have answered the call to support local distilleries (and whom we tip our hats to). As the saying goes, "eat local, drink local!"
The prize for most cleverly named cocktail using a local spirit goes to Stake Chophouse (1309 Orange Ave., Coronado , stakechophouse.com) and its Mad Malahatter. Concocted with Malahat Spirits Co. Spiced Rum, cider, Wormwood Bitters, cinnamon and cherry, it's well worth the drive over the bridge to taste this winner.
Prep Kitchen pays homage to local distilleries at their Little Italy location (1660 India St., prepkitchenlittleitaly.com) with the Old Harbor Negroni, a simple homage to the Italian classic cocktail, using Old Harbor Gin, Campari and Carpano Antica. Meanwhile, you might hear your barmate singing The Strokes out loud with Last Knight, a spirit-forward cocktail of Henebery Celebrated Whiskey, apricot brandy and fernet.
Dynamite views match the cocktail list at Cusp (7955 La Jolla Shores, La Jolla, cusprestaurant.com), tipping their hat to an impressive four local distilleries in their cocktail menu, including Ballast Point, Henebery, Malahat, and Old Harbor. The Peach & Sprig has Ballast Point Fugu Vodka (infused with rosemary), Lillet, and peach liqueur. The La Jolla Breeze brings some spice with Old Harbor Gin, jalapeno, cranberry and pineapple juice. For those looking for more complex cocktails, try the San Diego Sangria, with Henebery spiced rye whiskey, cabernet, honey, lemon and egg whites, or The Cove with Malahat rum, Zucca Rabarbaro (an Italian amaro made with rhubarb, zests, cardamom seeds and aromatic herbs and spices), walnut bitters, and Aztec chocolate bitters.
The Hake (1250 Prospect St., La Jolla, thehake.com) stays loyal to local rum producer Malahat with two cocktails. The clean and simple On The Grass includes Malahat White Rum, lemongrass syrup, lime juice and Fever Tree Tonic Water, while the spicy Grand 5 Masts with Malahat Ginger Rum, Grand Marnier, Malahat Spiced Rum and lime juice, makes for the perfect after-dinner drink.
The Kongkiller at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant (2202 Fourth Ave., Bankers Hill, bankershillsd.com) puts a local twist on the Pina Colada with Malahat Spiced Rum, coconut cream, creme de banana and fresh lime.
Take flight and feel the orbit at Lion's Share (629 Kettner Blvd., downtown, lionsharesd.com) with their doozy of a cocktail, Space Shuttle that's made with Old Harbor Navy Strength Rum, Venezuelan rum, absinthe, passionfruit, pineapple and lime.
And for dessert ... local hotspot Puesto (789 W. Harbor Dr., downtown, eatpuesto.com) has the answer to our endless summers with the frozen Horchata Loca made with Malahat white rum, Puesto's own house-made horchata and topped with cinnamon.
Know of other local restaurants and bars supporting San Diego distilleries? Let us know. We'd love to hear about in the comments below.