Here’s Mud in Your Rye


By Michael Benninger / Photos by Kate and Michael Auda

Two standout brands in the local liquor industry have teamed up to create an exquisite new craft cocktail as native to San Diego as flat bellies and fish tacos. Dubbed “The Balboa,” this liquid sensation spouts from the minds behind Rx Bitters and Henebery Whiskey and is poised to make a splash throughout the city.

Made with 90-proof Henebery Whiskey (a spice-infused rye) and dashes of Rx Bitters’ Sarsaparilla, The Balboa hosts a hint of honey and a splash of fresh lemon, creating a citrusy/sweet flavor profile that promises to imbue the imbiber with a sophisticated sense of euphoria.

“Our goal was to create a drink that’s synonymous with San Diego and which embodies all the great things this city has to offer,” says Henebery’s CEO and co-founder, Jesse Fanning. “The use of locally made products and the refreshing characteristic of the drink make it a perfect complement to San Diego’s fun, sunny and active culture.”

Henebery Spirits is a family-owned, San Diego-based business that continues the traditions of 19thcentury distiller Matthew Henebery. Rx Bitters is an enterprising upstart formed by three San Diego bartenders who crowd-funded their venture on Kickstarter in 2013. Together, these two brands debuted The Balboa in November, taking home the Mixologist Award at the March of Dimes’ Master Mixologists Gala.

While the The Balboa won’t get credit for discovering new worlds like its Spanish conquistador namesake (Vasco Núñez de Balboa, 1475-1519) does, it has been making a land-grab along the Pacific. To make it appear on cocktail menus up and down the coast, Fanning worked his magic, hitting the streets with a pitch to get bars onboard.

“The strategy was a simple one,” says Fanning. “Any location offering The Balboa will keep track of sales, and Henebery will donate one dollar of every cocktail sold to the San Diego County Surfrider Foundation - at no expense to the venue.”

The tactic proved wildly successful: beginning December 1, more than 70 local establishments will be offering the Balboa to patrons.

“The City of San Diego deserves a signature cocktail to call its own,” Fanning says. “And we’re honored that so many of our favorite locations have come together for a good cause.”

The Balboa will also be among the cocktails featured during December 13th’s Toast of Downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village (see Light Bites, Big City)

“San Diego has an amazing brewing scene and an even better drinking culture,” says Fanning, who asks San Diegans to think/ drink local when they order from the shelves, not just from the taps. “By supporting this cocktail, you’re supporting two hardworking companies trying to make a thoughtful contribution to this amazing scene.”

Taste The Balboa at any of the establishments listed in the sidebar; find more venues at