It’s impossible to have a dull moment at Counterpoint if owner Cam Fomby is in the house. Welcoming and gracious, Cam ensures you are laughing and having a good time. Open since 2009, the Golden Hill staple has made a name for itself citywide. Right down the street from the beloved Krakatoa coffee house, Counterpoint meets the cocktail, craft beer, and foodie obsessions of the neighborhood and beyond.
The establishment’s mantra is “We want to do the ordinary extraordinarily well.” This is Counterpoint’s aim in everything it does, from the housemade cocktail ingredients to the homemade bologna. Chef Rose Peyron, hailing from Alchemy and 100 Wines, crafts everything from churned butter to cured meats (I hear the beef tongue pastrami sandwich is a must-try).
For cocktails, Cam and the Counterpoint team are like mad scientists creating orgeat, dry Curaçao, a variety of bitters, and Cam’s specialty, tonic. Incidentally, his house gin and tonic is what I like to call dangerously drinkable. Refreshing and delicious, it’s not like any other gin and tonic you’ve ever had, and you will definitely want more than one. With the apothecary of ingredients in the back, Counterpoint takes the freshest approach possible but utilizes recipes from decades and even centuries past to create cocktails for today’s discerning crowd. At one point I had a medicine chest worth of vials in front of me, and my nose was piqued with aromas of celery, grapefruit, root beer and aromatics.
Craft beer lovers are sure to find unique and carefully chosen sudsy selections to quench their thirst. Although originally opened with a respectable six beer taps, the number has expanded to 15 rotating handles, with such San Diego favorites as Alpine’s Nelson, Lost Abbey’s Angel’s Share, Societe’s The Widow, Mother Earth’s Sin Tax, Green Flash’s Le Freak, and Julian Apple Cider. Look to the chalkboard for the latest brews on tap.
My favorite marriage of craft and cocktail is the Brass Balls, a clever nod to the not so fabulous Brass Monkey drink (although it was a great Beastie Boys song). Made with Buffalo Trace, fresh orange and lemon juice, housemade orange bitters, and an IPA float, your mind will be nowhere near malt liquor. It’s wonderfully refreshing and perfect for a little hop kick in your day. Other new cocktails to the spring list are the Port of Call, with Antico Platinum Rum, Cynar, port wine, lemon juice, and demerara syrup; and the White Girl, a riff on a White Lady, with gin, lemon juice, creme de cacao, mint syrup and egg white.
Take a drive over to Golden Hill and try Counterpoint. Start with a fresh housemade cocktail, and then sit back and let Cam and team pair a wine or craft beer with one of their dishes. (Don’t worry wine lovers, Counterpoint has an impressive by-the-glass list from around the world!)
Counterpoint is open seven days a week, from 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday; and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday. Don’t forget Happy Hour on Sundays-Thursdays from 5 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight.
With 15 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 700 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to firstname.lastname@example.org