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The Best San Diego Bars Dedicated to Your Favorite Liquor

Vodka, whiskey, rum, absinthe—check out these local hot spots specializing in a single spirit
Interior of El Agave Restaurant & Tequileria in Old Town, San Diego. Home to one of the U.S.'s largest collections of tequila and mezcal
Courtesy of Old Town San Diego

Pick your poison. Everybody has their favorite liquor, and San Diego is home to a vibrant and diverse bar scene, with many outposts specializing in a single type of booze. From record-setting collections of fine whiskeys to in-house distilled liquors and the wine cellars of your wildest dreams, join us on a tour through San Diego’s top establishments tailored to the most popular spirits.

San Diego's best whiskey bar, The Whiskey House, located in the Gaslamp quarter featuring a rare whiskey collection, walls of bottles and glasses at a bar
Courtesy of The Whiskey House

San Diego’s Top Whiskey Bar

The Whiskey House

For scotch enthusiasts and whiskey connoisseurs, The Whiskey House stands out as San Diego’s number-one destination. The bar, located in the Gaslamp Quarter, boasts the record for the world’s largest collection of purchasable whiskey, sourcing over 2,467 unique varieties from around the globe. You can sample a range with a whiskey tasting flight, which includes brands from San Diego, Kentucky, Ireland, and Japan. Join their Whiskey Club for monthly tastings and discussions with visiting distillers. | 420 Third Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter

Notable Mentions: Seven Grand, Aero Club

San Diego's best gin bar, Mabel's Gone Fising, located in North Park featuring a Gin & Tonic with a lemon slice
Courtesy of Mabel’s Gone Fishing

San Diego’s Top Gin Bar

Mabel’s Gone Fishing

Cozy, Spanish-inspired seafood restaurant Mabel’s Gone Fishing lures locals for more than freshly shucked oysters and jamon iberico—they also have one of the best G&Ts in San Diego. Mabel’s and accompanying bottle shop, Bodega Rosette, offer an extensive collection of gin and a rotating gin and tonic of the month. For $75 per quarter, you can also join their gin club, which gets you curated deliveries of gins, tonics, and mixers, plus access to their exclusive release parties. | 3770 30th Street, North Park

Notable Mentions: You & Yours Distilling Co., Botanica Art & Cocktail Bar

San Diego's best vodka bar, 619 Spirits, located in North Park featuring their distilled vodka brand and a cocktail with orange and lime slices
Courtesy of 619 Spirits

San Diego’s Top Vodka Bar

619 Spirits

The rare San Diego bar producing its own vodka, 619 Spirits was one of the city’s first craft distillery and tasting rooms to hit the scene in 2012 before expanding into a full-fledged bar and restaurant. Located in North Park, this under-the-radar watering hole offers unexpected farm-fresh vodka infusions, including pickle, coffee, rose petal, and scorpion pepper. You can order shots, pick up a whole bottle, or opt for a mixed drink (though, if you’re seeking complex craft cocktails, be aware that it’s all about the vodka here—libations are simple and spirit-forward).  | 3015 Lincoln Avenue, North Park

Notable Mentions: Malahat Spirits Co., Storyhouse Spirits

San Diego's best tequila and mezcal bar, El Agave, located in Old Town featuring walls of rare bottles and interior dining
Courtesy of El Agave Restaurant & Tequileria

San Diego’s Top Tequila & Mezcal Bar

El Agave Restaurant & Tequileria

Established in 1996, El Agave is home to the largest selection of tequilas in the US, with over 2,000 unique brands of tequila and mezcal (they call it their “tequila museum”), including their own award-winning spirit, Agave Artesanal. Attend one of their various tequila-tasting events on their lively outdoor patio overlooking Old Town. Or, if you really feel like treating yourself, opt for a shot of rare 1800 Colección for just over $185. | 2304 San Diego Avenue B, Old Town

Notable Mentions: Cantina Mayahuel, Tahona Bar, La Puerta, Quixote

San Diego's best sake bar, Tanuki sake bar, located in Kensington featuring several exported bottles of Japanese rise wine and glasses
Courtesy of Tanuki Sake Bar

San Diego’s Top Sake Bar

Tanuki Sake Bar

One of San Diego’s only sake bars, Tanuki (the Japanese name for cute canids called raccoon dogs), is a must-visit for patrons seeking tough-to-find brands of Japanese rice wine. Located in Kensington, Tanuki offers over 100 junmai daiginjo, nigori, ginjo, and sparkling sake flavors from Dassai, Shinsei, and other major exporters. Keep an eye out for their omakase events, ticketed multi-course dinners thoughtfully paired with sakes. | 4191 Adams Ave, Kensington

Notable Mentions: Beshock Ramen, Cloak and Petal

San Diego's best wine bar, The Rose Wine Bar, located in South Park and featuring a collection of wine bottles along with wood tables and plants
Courtesy of The Rose Wine Bar

San Diego’s Top Wine Bar

The Rose Wine Bar

Housed in the renovated 1927 Rose Grocer building, the Rose Wine Bar bar is a laid-back locale ideal for enjoying some of the city’s best natural wines. Relax with a glass of white and a charcuterie board on their dog-friendly patio or pop by the accompanying bottle shop for the finishing touch on a home-cooked Italian dinner. Membership in the bar’s wine club includes up to four bottles of wine of your preferred type per month and discounts on bottle shop purchases and tastings. | 2219 30th Street,  South Park

Notable Mentions: Vin de Syrah, Carruth Cellars, Pali Wine Co., Vino Carta

San Diego's best rum bar, Havana 1920, located in the Gaslamp quarter featuring two rum cocktails on their outside patio with lime on the side
Courtesy of Havana 1920

San Diego’s Top Rum Bar

Havana 1920

Perched in the Gaslamp Quarter, Havana 1920 is inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s time in Cuba (it’s where he wrote The Old Man and the Sea). You can party like the famous author and daiquiri downer with one of our city’s most robust rum collections, from traditional agricole rhum to imported bottles from Barbados, Jamaica, Bermuda, Guyana, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. | 548 Fifth Ave, Gaslamp Quarter

Notable Mentions: False Idol, Raised by Wolves

San Diego's best absinthe bar, Wormwood, located in Normal Heights and featuring a table set in their garden patio along with a bottle of French Absinthe
Courtesy of Womwood

San Diego’s Top Absinthe Spot 


From the shores of the French Riviera to the mountains of Switzerland, bar-goers can sip their way through a world tour of absinthe and pastis at Wormwood in Normal Heights. The dreamy French bistro serves the “green fairy” over a sugar cube, as many famous writers and artists enjoyed it, but they also mix the anise-flavored spirit into balanced cocktails like the A La 30th, a blend of absinthe, rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters. | 4677 30th St, University Heights

Notable Mentions: Noble Experiment, The Lion’s Share

Japanese whisky bar and speakeasy, Realm of the 52 Remedies, located in the Convoy District featuring an imported whisky in a glass with an engraved ice block
Courtesy of Realm of the 52 Remedies 

San Diego’s Top Japanese Whisky Bar

Realm of the 52 Remedies 

For a taste of single-malt goodness, visit Realm of the 52 Remedies, an apothecary-themed Convoy speakeasy packed with traditional Japanese artwork and more than 20 whiskys from the Land of the Rising Sun. Order your favorite straight, or try a cocktail inspired by Japanese treats and even pop culture like anime and manga. Plan your visit in advance, as reservations for this underground spot are extremely limited and only available two or more weeks in advance. | 4805 Convoy St, Kearny Mesa

Notable Mentions: Huntress, The Whiskey House

By Cole Novak

With a background crafting digital strategies and storytelling for brands, Cole loves reporting on local figures, businesses and nonprofits. A lifelong San Diegan, Cole is passionate about photography, surfing, music, cooking, the local art scene, and the great outdoors.

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