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Save the Date: San Diego’s First Bartender Shakedown

On March 2, twenty-one of the region's best bars will be serving drinks under one roof
Hundred Proof's Bartender Shakedown entry: It Takes Three to Mango | Photo: Stephen Kurpinsky

By Kelly Davis

Folks always ask me which bar they should go to for a good cocktail. I’ll name one, then another. Then I’ll think of three more that I love. And several more. As I’ve said many times, when it comes to its cocktail scene, San Diego can compete with any of the big cities that usually get all the attention: San Francisco, New York, Chicago.

That range of talent will be on display on Saturday, March 2, at the first Bartender Shakedown, a large-scale event featuring 21 of the region’s best cocktail bars (including Tijuana’s awesome Nortico), who’ll each prepare a cocktail inspired by a spirit pre-selected for them. The event takes place at Liberty Station’s Building 177 (2875 Dewey Road). Ticket holders can enjoy as many cocktails as they can responsibly drink from 7 to 10 p.m., supplemented by small bites from Soda & Swine. (General admission tickets are $65. A $100 VIP ticket gets you in an hour early with access to a VIP lounge and additional food options.)

The event is organized by the San Diego chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild as part of the annual Bartenders Weekend. Previously an industry-focused event, this year organizers decided to open things up.

“We have enough bars now that we can showcase what we do well,” says Stephen Kurpinsky, one of the event organizers and beverage manager at University Heights’ Hundred Proof. “To have them all in one spot, under one roof, will be really awesome.”

Though it’s got “shakedown” in the title, the event’s more of a showcase than a competition. However, attendees will get to vote on their favorite cocktail of the night and the “best dressed” bar—participating bartenders have been asked to dress and decorate their tables in a way that captures the feel of their bar.

All proceeds from the event benefit Inspire Artistic Minds, which provides educational grants to bartenders and chefs who want to further develop their craft.

Chris Patino, co-owner of Raised by Wolves and an event co-organizer, said it was tough narrowing participants down to 21 bars.

“We put a huge list together and we literally just started going down the list and everybody said yes,” he said. “There were definitely other bars on our list that we wanted to include, but we just don’t have the room. Hopefully we can grow this thing to a point where next year we can have even more.”

Each bar will create a cocktail incorporating one of 21 brand sponsors assigned to them. Spirits include Aperol, Elyx vodka, Templeton Rye, Espolòn tequila, El Silencio mezcal, and You & Yours Sunday Gin. Patino’s already seen what each bar has planned and says there will be a variety of options for all tastes.

“It really runs the gamut,” he said. “The cocktails all really embody the bar. They did great; they all took this very seriously.”

You can find a list of participating bars, and buy tickets, on the Bartender Shakedown EventBrite page.

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Save the Date: San Diego’s First Bartender Shakedown

Hundred Proof’s Bartender Shakedown entry: It Takes Three to Mango | Photo: Stephen Kurpinsky

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