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Aero Club's 600 Whiskeys

Aero’s 20 nitrogen taps pour rotating micros for the suds snobs.
Aero’s 20 nitrogen taps pour rotating micros for the suds snobs.
Place

Aero Club

3365 India Street, San Diego

In 1943, while traveling by train along the German-occupied French Mediterranean coast, showman Charles Trenet scrawled the lyrics to a love song on a piece of toilet paper. Three years later, “La Mer” (“Beyond the Sea”) would become an instant hit upon release and to this day remains a chanson classic.

A year after the song first aired, in 1947, a newlywed pilot named Marian Prophett was given the space adjacent to her husband’s vending-machine shop on India Street to convert into a bar for her aviator friends. She called it the Aero Club.

Today, over 60 years later, the liquor racks at the Middletown dive are inscribed with the same name, interspersed with the enigmatic “La Mer.”

“I like everything European,” says eight-year-owner Bill Lutzius. “So, I put it in because every bar needs a little mystery.”

Now, you can cue up the track on Aero’s jukebox, choose a pour from over 600 whiskeys, and be transported back to the bar’s beginning — when I-5 was only a glimmer in Eisenhower’s eye and the Aero Club was one of the only buildings on the block.

But European mystique and old-time aviation aren’t the only moods informing the bar’s at-home aesthetic.

“When I grew up in Brooklyn 30 years ago or more, the drinking age was 18, and they let you in the bar when you were 13,” says Lutzius. “So, when I was a little kid, I was in the locals’ bars like this, and they were always really friendly. It was real community.”

Accordingly, the bar is home to a consistent crowd taking refuge from the heat, talking over craft cocktails, and drinking pints from Aero’s 20 nitrogen taps — a classic San Diego spread of local IPAs, English imports, and rotating micros for the suds snob.

Sorted by genre and origin, the house’s spiral-bound liquor menu is a history lesson. Whiskeys from Tasmania and Japan, you say? How about apple-pie moonshine, caramel whiskey, and cherry mash bourbon?

You’ll also get an education in aeronautics from faded black-and-white photos of historic Lindbergh landings and experimental bombers soaring over East County foothills.

Aero’s tagline is “Where bartenders go for a cold beer,” but I think a day-drinking regular recently said it best: “It’s a speakeasy — not because it’s hard to find, but because just the right people know about it.”

Well, now you know.

Hours: 2 p.m.–2 a.m. daily
Credit cards: Yep

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Aero’s 20 nitrogen taps pour rotating micros for the suds snobs.
Aero’s 20 nitrogen taps pour rotating micros for the suds snobs.
Place

Aero Club

3365 India Street, San Diego

In 1943, while traveling by train along the German-occupied French Mediterranean coast, showman Charles Trenet scrawled the lyrics to a love song on a piece of toilet paper. Three years later, “La Mer” (“Beyond the Sea”) would become an instant hit upon release and to this day remains a chanson classic.

A year after the song first aired, in 1947, a newlywed pilot named Marian Prophett was given the space adjacent to her husband’s vending-machine shop on India Street to convert into a bar for her aviator friends. She called it the Aero Club.

Today, over 60 years later, the liquor racks at the Middletown dive are inscribed with the same name, interspersed with the enigmatic “La Mer.”

“I like everything European,” says eight-year-owner Bill Lutzius. “So, I put it in because every bar needs a little mystery.”

Now, you can cue up the track on Aero’s jukebox, choose a pour from over 600 whiskeys, and be transported back to the bar’s beginning — when I-5 was only a glimmer in Eisenhower’s eye and the Aero Club was one of the only buildings on the block.

But European mystique and old-time aviation aren’t the only moods informing the bar’s at-home aesthetic.

“When I grew up in Brooklyn 30 years ago or more, the drinking age was 18, and they let you in the bar when you were 13,” says Lutzius. “So, when I was a little kid, I was in the locals’ bars like this, and they were always really friendly. It was real community.”

Accordingly, the bar is home to a consistent crowd taking refuge from the heat, talking over craft cocktails, and drinking pints from Aero’s 20 nitrogen taps — a classic San Diego spread of local IPAs, English imports, and rotating micros for the suds snob.

Sorted by genre and origin, the house’s spiral-bound liquor menu is a history lesson. Whiskeys from Tasmania and Japan, you say? How about apple-pie moonshine, caramel whiskey, and cherry mash bourbon?

You’ll also get an education in aeronautics from faded black-and-white photos of historic Lindbergh landings and experimental bombers soaring over East County foothills.

Aero’s tagline is “Where bartenders go for a cold beer,” but I think a day-drinking regular recently said it best: “It’s a speakeasy — not because it’s hard to find, but because just the right people know about it.”

Well, now you know.

Hours: 2 p.m.–2 a.m. daily
Credit cards: Yep

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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
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