San Diego’s Coolest Cocktail Bars

Photo of Catrina Pang
23 November 2016

California’s second largest city, San Diego, is made up of over 4,200 square miles of diverse neighborhoods, endless opportunities for exploration and activities, and beautiful beaches and mountains. From the urban neighborhoods of San Diego’s downtown, to the iconic Gaslamp Quarter to the picturesque village of La Jolla, the most unique and trendy restaurants and bars make a home in this city. Join us in exploring the coolest cocktail bars San Diego has to offer.

© Ryan Benoit/Flickr


Starlite has a beautiful, sunken, white bar. Directly above the bar, you’ll see a striking chandelier crafted from varied lengths of stainless steel tubing, angled at the ends to reveal the embedded lights, twinkling and reflecting in the mirrored ceiling like stars. It is this amazing architecture, the spectacular cocktails, and the delicious food that make Starlite a favorite spot. Patrons especially love the ice cream sandwiches, the Jidori Chicken, the fish, and the cheese plates, as well as the refreshing Mules and the giant copper mugs they come in.

Starlite, 3175 India St, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 358 9766

© Ian Crowther/Flickr

Cat Eye Club

Cat Eye Club serves tiki themed original drinks with DJs performing nightly. This retro cocktail lounge is inspired by the late ’50s and early ’60s nightlife culture, paying homage to mid century cocktail trends with an emphasis on classic and tiki cocktails. The bright colors, tassels, cushions, and decorations give this place a funky fun atmosphere in which to hang out and enjoy the great music and drinks. The drink menu has adorable colorful illustrations of the fun drinks, which can come in fancy glasses, tiki mugs, or with a flaming floating lime.

Cat Eye Club, 370 7th Ave, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 330 9509

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S&M Sausage & Meat

If you pull up a bar stool at S&M Sausage & Meat’s Swine Bar, you’ll find a full bar featuring 12 taps of unique, hard-to-find craft brews as well as their ‘savory, salty, smoky, spicy’ specialty cocktail menu. They also have a provisions market counter that displays fresh, uncooked exotic sausages, house-made bacon, charcuterie, S&M private label sauces, and a variety of local goods. During Happy Hour, you can get free bacon with your drink. With unique choices like the garlic parmesan rosemary, honey Sriracha, or traditional thick cut hickory bacon, as well as creative cocktails like the Pacific Jewell, the Up In Smoke, and the S&M Old Fashioned with bacon infused Buffalo Trace, S&M is truly an unparalleled experience.

S&M Sausage & Meat, 4130 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 344 2177

© Yelp Inc./Flickr

Zymology 21

Created out of a desire to combine an enticing new menu with unique handcrafted cocktails, Zymology 21 has become perhaps the most innovative restaurant in Downtown San Diego. Inspired by the science of fermentation, Chef Leyla Javadov and mixologist Louis Chavez designed a menu that pushes the boundaries of gastronomy and explores the possibilities of farm-to-table ingredients on a molecular level. Classic comfort foods have been deliciously reimagined, and the incredible cocktails are served in test tubes, beakers, or even frozen. The science-themed decor, with a chalkboard filled with science equations and shelves lined with beakers and flasks, completes the scientific atmosphere. The bartenders are lively and entertaining, demonstrating the creation of drinks with lights, fire, and dry ice.

Zymology 21, 750 5th Ave, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 546 9321

© Alan Cordova/Flickr

Rare Form

The rooftop patio at Rare Form offers craft cocktails with a tropical twist as well as great views of Petco Park. Most people order from the Rare Form deli and either take it upstairs to the bar or simply have their food delivered up to them. Order fantastic Mai Tais, Singapore Slings, Zombie cocktails, and Pina Coladas in boats or tiki glasses.

Rare Form, 795 J St, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 255 6507

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