4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Speakeasy

Secret spots for libations

Enjoy a fine bourbon next to a wall of shimmering gold skulls at Noble Experiment. - Image by Brandon Hernández
Enjoy a fine bourbon next to a wall of shimmering gold skulls at Noble Experiment.
Place

Neighborhood

777 G Street, San Diego

Noble Experiment

777 G Street, 619-888-4713, nobleexperimentsd.com

Passage to Noble Experiment comes via a fake wall of kegs at the back of Neighborhood, an East Village hang. This portal makes for a mood-setting kickoff to a night of craft mixology — or the most confusing wrong turn ever en route to the restroom. Lead bartender Anthony Schmidt lives, eats, and breathes cocktail culture, so his largely metro-trendster and industry clientele can sit back and sip it all in, at their leisure and in keeping with their personal tastes.

Like artichoke-flavored liqueur? Jonesing for mole bitters? Maybe you just want a fine bourbon that’s high on vanilla and low on burn? Whatever your spirit of choice, Schmidt and his team of throwback tenders sling out creative concoctions built on contemporary booze yet identifiably steeped in tipple tradition.

Nothing’s over the top here. Part of the “experiment” is getting back to a simpler time and place, when a drink consisted of a few smartly paired varieties of liquor.. This return to basics — along with an opportunity to engage with the technicians behind the bar — deliver a true speakeasy feel.

As with any true speakeasy, communicative regulations must be adhered to for those hoping to gain access. Send a text in advance with reservation details; they’ll text you back (maybe) with a passcode that lets you into this lair. Dark woods, plush leather, checkerboard tiles, a stainless-steel drainboard bartop, large-scale framed paintings, a Swarovski chandelier, and an entire wall of shimmering gold skulls make for a haunted-mansion-meets-adult-soda-fountain atmosphere unlike anything in San Diego.

Noble’s creators, Arsalun Tafazoli and Nate Stanton, were fresh off the success of their first ventures, Neighborhood and El Dorado, when they decided that San Diego could use a place with a culinary, seasonally driven approach to cocktails. Over the course of several months, they scoured cocktail-forward cities for ideas; they even tapped the cocktail-makers from NYC’s Milk & Honey. The result is this intimate 35-seater, where meaningful back-and-forths between patron and bartender are common and every night is an adventure.

— Brandon Hernández

Place

El Camino

2400 India Street, San Diego

El Camino

On Wednesday nights, this Mexican bar and restaurant in Little Italy transform into a Latin-jazz speakeasy at the behest of legendary trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos. Stand-in blowers sip cocktails by the bar, waiting for their nod to wail. Patrons shuffle feet on the dance floor or sit at candlelit tables inscribed with tarot archetypes and pick at organic vegetarian dishes served with house salsas and cheese sauce. Out back, smokers pause their chit-chat as airplanes roar into Lindbergh Field; pitchers of sangria make the rounds. Stop by for an evening with some of San Diego’s jazz greats.

Place

La Gran Tapa

611 B Street, San Diego

La Gran Tapa

The first dedicated Spanish bar in San Diego (established in 1984 by a retired bullfighter, no less), this downtown bar and café hosts live music nightly. Catch it on a jazz night (often with a Latin flair), and the venue’s intimate old-world ambiance and languorous service takes on a discreet, Prohibition-era character. The bar’s extensive selection of wine and beer is best sampled during the Tuesday–Saturday happy hour (5:00–7:00 p.m.) with $3 drinks and tapas. Be aware that 17.5 percent gratuity is added to every bill, but any additional tips will go to the band.

Olive Tree Marketplace

4805 Narragansett Avenue, 619-224-0443, olivetreemarket.com

Ocean Beach

People come to this O.B. grocer for the impressive inventory of gourmet items; some are even hip to the killer craft-beer selection. But, aptly, only a small percentage of San Diego’s suds enthusiasts know about the tiny, chill, bar-outfitted space next door, where they serve up flights of rare and delicious brews. Ignore the closed blinds and walk in, or enter from the wooden doorway in the market’s wine section. Now you’re in the know.

Place

Eleven

3519 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Pants Karaoke at Bar Eleven

Every Sunday night at Bar Eleven, members of local bands, karaoke connoisseurs, and drunken wingnuts cut loose at this sing-easy. The roster of tunes includes do-it-yourself karaoke remixes of songs such as “Fuck the Pain Away” (by Peaches), created by the host (Pants) himself. It usually isn’t super-crowded, so everybody gets a chance to let their demons out. People have sung from the floor, and there’ve been reports of attendees slow-moshing to a Smiths song. You could do a Misfits track in falsetto here and not elicit glares. On certain weeks, entire albums are sung, such as Abbey Road or David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. facebook.com/groups/pantskaraoke

Place

Stage Room

9500 Gilman Drive, San Diego

Porter’s Pub

Of the few places that legally sell adult beverages on UCSD’s campus, Porter’s Pub is the most laid back. Professors, grad students, undergrads, and research teams get loose and/or downright drunk here. Beer greases the wheels of networking at this institution, and most people are approachable. You could end up talking to the Mick Jagger of neuroscience — some instructors even hold office hours at the pub. There is a good-sized patio out back, with plenty of tables and smoking spots. Porter’s Pub hosts nationally known performers from time to time. That’s when the place really goes off.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The Copley family and the Nixons, Dr. Seuss, San Diego Magazine

Helen's turn at the throne, David's missteps, end of the Tribune, union trouble
Next Article

The Addams Family 2: new kooky characters gone wrong

Cousin Itt’s synthetic CG likeness owes more to Dawk than it does Feliz Silla’s hair suit.
Enjoy a fine bourbon next to a wall of shimmering gold skulls at Noble Experiment. - Image by Brandon Hernández
Enjoy a fine bourbon next to a wall of shimmering gold skulls at Noble Experiment.
Place

Neighborhood

777 G Street, San Diego

Noble Experiment

777 G Street, 619-888-4713, nobleexperimentsd.com

Passage to Noble Experiment comes via a fake wall of kegs at the back of Neighborhood, an East Village hang. This portal makes for a mood-setting kickoff to a night of craft mixology — or the most confusing wrong turn ever en route to the restroom. Lead bartender Anthony Schmidt lives, eats, and breathes cocktail culture, so his largely metro-trendster and industry clientele can sit back and sip it all in, at their leisure and in keeping with their personal tastes.

Like artichoke-flavored liqueur? Jonesing for mole bitters? Maybe you just want a fine bourbon that’s high on vanilla and low on burn? Whatever your spirit of choice, Schmidt and his team of throwback tenders sling out creative concoctions built on contemporary booze yet identifiably steeped in tipple tradition.

Nothing’s over the top here. Part of the “experiment” is getting back to a simpler time and place, when a drink consisted of a few smartly paired varieties of liquor.. This return to basics — along with an opportunity to engage with the technicians behind the bar — deliver a true speakeasy feel.

As with any true speakeasy, communicative regulations must be adhered to for those hoping to gain access. Send a text in advance with reservation details; they’ll text you back (maybe) with a passcode that lets you into this lair. Dark woods, plush leather, checkerboard tiles, a stainless-steel drainboard bartop, large-scale framed paintings, a Swarovski chandelier, and an entire wall of shimmering gold skulls make for a haunted-mansion-meets-adult-soda-fountain atmosphere unlike anything in San Diego.

Noble’s creators, Arsalun Tafazoli and Nate Stanton, were fresh off the success of their first ventures, Neighborhood and El Dorado, when they decided that San Diego could use a place with a culinary, seasonally driven approach to cocktails. Over the course of several months, they scoured cocktail-forward cities for ideas; they even tapped the cocktail-makers from NYC’s Milk & Honey. The result is this intimate 35-seater, where meaningful back-and-forths between patron and bartender are common and every night is an adventure.

— Brandon Hernández

Place

El Camino

2400 India Street, San Diego

El Camino

On Wednesday nights, this Mexican bar and restaurant in Little Italy transform into a Latin-jazz speakeasy at the behest of legendary trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos. Stand-in blowers sip cocktails by the bar, waiting for their nod to wail. Patrons shuffle feet on the dance floor or sit at candlelit tables inscribed with tarot archetypes and pick at organic vegetarian dishes served with house salsas and cheese sauce. Out back, smokers pause their chit-chat as airplanes roar into Lindbergh Field; pitchers of sangria make the rounds. Stop by for an evening with some of San Diego’s jazz greats.

Place

La Gran Tapa

611 B Street, San Diego

La Gran Tapa

The first dedicated Spanish bar in San Diego (established in 1984 by a retired bullfighter, no less), this downtown bar and café hosts live music nightly. Catch it on a jazz night (often with a Latin flair), and the venue’s intimate old-world ambiance and languorous service takes on a discreet, Prohibition-era character. The bar’s extensive selection of wine and beer is best sampled during the Tuesday–Saturday happy hour (5:00–7:00 p.m.) with $3 drinks and tapas. Be aware that 17.5 percent gratuity is added to every bill, but any additional tips will go to the band.

Olive Tree Marketplace

4805 Narragansett Avenue, 619-224-0443, olivetreemarket.com

Ocean Beach

People come to this O.B. grocer for the impressive inventory of gourmet items; some are even hip to the killer craft-beer selection. But, aptly, only a small percentage of San Diego’s suds enthusiasts know about the tiny, chill, bar-outfitted space next door, where they serve up flights of rare and delicious brews. Ignore the closed blinds and walk in, or enter from the wooden doorway in the market’s wine section. Now you’re in the know.

Place

Eleven

3519 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Pants Karaoke at Bar Eleven

Every Sunday night at Bar Eleven, members of local bands, karaoke connoisseurs, and drunken wingnuts cut loose at this sing-easy. The roster of tunes includes do-it-yourself karaoke remixes of songs such as “Fuck the Pain Away” (by Peaches), created by the host (Pants) himself. It usually isn’t super-crowded, so everybody gets a chance to let their demons out. People have sung from the floor, and there’ve been reports of attendees slow-moshing to a Smiths song. You could do a Misfits track in falsetto here and not elicit glares. On certain weeks, entire albums are sung, such as Abbey Road or David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. facebook.com/groups/pantskaraoke

Place

Stage Room

9500 Gilman Drive, San Diego

Porter’s Pub

Of the few places that legally sell adult beverages on UCSD’s campus, Porter’s Pub is the most laid back. Professors, grad students, undergrads, and research teams get loose and/or downright drunk here. Beer greases the wheels of networking at this institution, and most people are approachable. You could end up talking to the Mick Jagger of neuroscience — some instructors even hold office hours at the pub. There is a good-sized patio out back, with plenty of tables and smoking spots. Porter’s Pub hosts nationally known performers from time to time. That’s when the place really goes off.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

#MeToo, from here to Africa

“So many girls out there are being molested by their own fathers, by their own cousins... It’s out of control.”
Next Article

Todd Gloria doesn't care about Ocean Beach

Scott Marks trivializes Hitler
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close