Photos by Paul Body
Nestled along North County’s coastline, tucked away under one of downtown Carlsbad’s oldest buildings, rests a stylish speakeasy called The Charles Kenneth. Named after the owner’s grandfather, and with a rich history dating back to the Prohibition Era, this hidden spot offers no outdoor signage, making it a challenge for first-timers to find. Even those who manage to locate the door are required to utter the day’s password in order to gain entry.
Inside, guests won’t find IPAs or mixed drinks with cutesy names. What they will find are exquisitely crafted cocktails - served up by one Abraham Jimenez. A San Diego native who grew up in Fallbrook, Jimenez manages this historic and no- longer-secret spot.
PacificSD: Whereabouts do you live?
ABRAHAM JIMENEZ: I live in Carlsbad and love it. There’s a growing food and cocktail scene here in North County, with new places opening all
the time. It’s great to see how much the drinking culture has grown and evolved.
How did you end up behind the bar at The Charles Kenneth?
About seven months ago, I got a phone call from a friend who was running the bar, letting me know he was moving. He suggested I meet with the owner, chef Rob Ruiz. We hit it off and, after a few conversations, he offered me the position.
Where else have you worked around town?
I’ve had the good fortune to work at some great bars with some of the best bartenders in the city. Before The Charles Kenneth, I was working at Juniper & Ivy in Little Italy under the guidance of Eric Johnson. When I got started down there, I thought I knew a thing or two about a thing or two, but was quickly humbled. I cut my teeth there, and it was an experience I’m truly grateful for.
How does one go about gaining entry into The Charles Kenneth?
Finding the bar is an adventure in itself. All of our business is word-of-mouth, and new guests usually come with someone who’s already been. We have an Instagram account, @TheCaptainCharlesKenneth, where we post the daily password. If you’re not a fan of social media, you can call or text 760.450.8139 anytime for more info. We’re not hiding, but I feel that when people seek us out and make the effort to find the bar, it means they actually want to drink here.
Where do you like to grab a drink when not working?
If I’m drinking here in Carlsbad, I usually go to the Compass. The bartenders there are all friends of ours. If I’m really drinking, I make my way over to the Golden Tee, because it’s one of the last great dive bars left in San Diego. And, if I’m heading down south, I usually make it a point to see Matt Fallows at Little Italy’s Prep Kitchen and Jacob Cumiford at the Brew Project.
Do you have any nicknames?
I don’t have any nicknames and prefer to go by Abraham. I get called Gabe a lot, and it bugs the shit out of me.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’m a romantic and hopelessly in love with my wife.
Rumor has it The Charles Kenneth helps others find love. That true?
We encourage romance at The Charles Kenneth, so if you see a guy or gal you would like to be introduced to, just ask one of the bartenders, and they will happily assist you.
The Charles Kenneth