By Brandon Hernández / Photos by Christina Yamamoto
Bartender Nate Howell just blew in from Chicago, specifically from the city's acclaimed Sable Kitchen & Bar, a hotspot boasting 800 different bottles and a "Top Chef " alum in the kitchen.
"Don't get me wrong, for nine months out of the year, Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world," says Howell. "But being from the Midwest, we all have the urge to move to California at one point or another."
Howell ventured west to build a bar program at Hiatus, the new outdoor, pool-adjacent lounge at Hotel La Jolla (now a Kimpton Hotel), which recently underwent an eight-month, multi-million-dollar renovation from lobby to penthouse. If he has his way, Hiatus will join the local mixology must-visits that impress him, which include North Park's new Seven grand, Little Italy's Craft & Commerce and Downtown's Noble
For Howell, success on that front requires balance: "Trying to find that point between sweet, sour, savory and bitter," he says. "I strive to create drinks people want to enjoy over and over again."
Case in point, Howell's Lucid Dream, a refined take on a tiki drink that hits the sweet/spicy sweet spot with a perfect mix of apricot liqueur, grapefruit juice, cinnamon and pisco (a grape brandy popular in South America). Moving forward, Howell will focus on crafting drinks utilizing extensive collections of rums and tequilas, spirits geared toward his new and always-sunny stomping grounds.
"We want people to be able to receive any experience they want," he says.
When that experience is served with one of Howell's cocktails poolside, amid smoldering fire pits and and a cool ocean breeze, one thing becomes clear: compared to San Diego, the Windy City... kinda blows.
Hiatus at Hotel La Jolla
7955 La Jolla Shores Dr.,
La Jolla Shores