2812 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
More hippie than hipster, the Kava Lounge in Middletown specializes in natural, organic cocktails and has played a significant role in cultivating San Diego’s electronic, experimental, and world-music scenes. The lounge was among the first venues to host dubstep shows a few years back and, more recently, is spotlighting San Diego’s beat scene with Critical Beatdown and Galactic Reign monthlies.
“I’ve been producing shows for over ten years, from L.A. to San Diego, and started accumulating my own ideas about how venues should be,” says co-owner Kristie Aguirre, who opened the lounge seven years ago. She has since booked Kava with acts such as AK1200, Bassnectar, Daedelus, DJ Swamp, Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello), the Gaslamp Killer, Karsh Kale, Ooah (Glitch Mob), and Random Rab.
“We try to keep the drink menu seasonal, so that everything is fresh and local,” Aguirre says.
Favorites like the Chai-tini and the Whiskey Snap with fresh juiced ginger and lime exemplify Kava’s unique mixology. The popular Tipsy Gypsy unites ginger, lime, agave syrup, and vodka or gin. In a clever twist on the classic mojito, the Besito finds crushed basil in place of mint with lemon, lime, and organic vodka. Satisfy your inner El Duderino with a Vegan White Russian, which combines hazelnut or chocolate hemp milk, coffee liqueur, and vodka.
If libations aren’t your thing, try a shot of mouth-numbing kava, a South Pacific island-root beverage that mostly tastes like dirt, though a spicy chocolate mixer is available. Other alternatives include herbal tea, organic juices, ginger shots, kombucha on the rocks or in a bottle, and miso broth.
Kava’s electronic nights offer something for everybody with Ascension (gothic/darkwave), Dragon Lounge (dubstep/breaks), Therapy (deep/tech/progressive house), Dead Technology (dubstep on vinyl/dubplates — currently on hold), Altruism (multi-genre benefit), Strut (deep house), Fusion (electro/dubstep), Memory Bank (minimal/techno/house), Dub Smugglers (dubstep), and Machine Funk (tech house). New nights include Urban Underground hip-hop night every Wednesday and Evolve (psy chill/dubstep/minimal).
Located a few blocks north of the Casbah on Kettner Boulevard, next to an electrical substation, Kava plans to unveil their recently remodeled art studio with classes in djembe drumming, tai chi, kung fu, yoga, reiki, and qigong. Free street parking is available within a couple blocks.
Hours: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Prices: drafts $5, cocktails $6+
Cover: $5 to $10
$10 card minimum