Walter Mencken 11:47 a.m., May 30
U.S. Grant Celebrating Booze-Inspired Felonies of Yesteryear
The US Grant Hotel is a local landmark with history and class to spare. But even this 101-year-old, seemingly demure and upstanding girl has some skeletons in her closet. This weekend, the seedier side of the Grant will be on display when the iconic stayover spot goes DeLorian, transporting attendees to the 1930s via Bringing Back the Bivouac. The event will take place on the evening of Sunday, October 16 and restore an underground portion of the hotel was once used to illegally smuggle booze to the Port of San Diego to its former speakeasy glory. Unlike the days of Prohibition, no secret knock or code word will be required for entry. The themed soiree is open to any member of the public who wants to party like it’s nineteen-thirty-something.
One of the Grant’s current attractions, mixologist Jeff Josenhans (a cocktail crafter who’s competed and won on an international level), has developed a number of themed stations serving special era-specific libations for the affair. One of those is the “Hot and Cold Shines,” a moonshine-inspired table featuring unaged whiskeys and corn liquor-infused libations at different temperatures. Another station will offer fizzes and the Grant’s signature barrel-aged Prohibition-style Manhattan made with 100-day-aged High West whiskey that Josenhans helped distill last year. Also be on the lookout for bottomless Prohibition punch bowls big enough to literally drown one’s sorrows.
Throwback cocktails, speakeasies and the like are very en vogue right now, but few if any spots are as well-suited to house a Prohibition-era party like this. Aesthetic treatments and artificially distressing is nice, but you can’t fake history and the venerable Grant has over a century of it. A special room rate will be available $139 will be available for Sunday evening. Probably a good idea given the bottomless nature of those punch bowls. The US Grant Hotel is located at 326 Broadway downtown.
Before and after - the US Grant's Bivouac in its heyday and as it will appear for the Sunday's Bringing Back the Bivouac event.