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Weekend Drinks: Buy from a Local

Go a little out of your way to get drinks to go from your neighborhood spot

You don’t need to be begged or cajoled anymore. You get it. Support local restaurants, especially now with another godforsaken shutdown and autumn putting a damper on outdoor dining even when it is allowed to return. Earlier in the week, I suggested five local spots to order takeout from. Today, since the weekend is nigh (honestly, who needs a weekend as an excuse to drink anymore?), it would be good-neighborly and supportive if—instead of buying alcohol from Costco or BevMo or the grocery store—you buy it from a local shop or restaurant or distiller. Nothing against the big-box retailers. They’ve been saviors and saints during all this. But even they’d tell you: They’re doing just fine. Support your local imbiberies.

Here are five from our Best Restaurants issue—or pick any local place that looks like it could use a lift. Enjoy the weekend.


The Rose (Best Wine Bar)

The Rose has been a staple in South Park for a decade, where owners Chelsea Coleman and Rae Gurne have been spreading the gospel of natural wines (to oversimplify it: wines that are small-scale, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic with little-to-no added yeast, additives, or sulfites) from the West Coast and Europe. They are the epitome of a local shop owned and operated by locals. Get your weekend wine here.


Gianni Buonomo (Reader’s Pick, Best Winery)

Ocean Beach native Keith Rolle has had a few projects over the years, including founding the Baja California Language College in Ensenada. When the economy crashed in 2008, he decided to learn a trade, and that was winemaking. He started this little shop on Newport Avenue back in 2016 showcasing a little-known but iconic-among-wine-people grape, Blaufränkisch. The awards poured in, including two gold medals and two silver in the revered San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.


Polite Provisions (Best Cocktails)

Now having many of the top restaurants in the city—Born & Raised, Ironside, Craft & Commerce, Soda & Swine, and more—Consortium Holdings has brought some of the country’s more talented food and drink people to San Diego. One of them is Erick Castro, a San Diego native and partner in their Normal Heights craft cocktail hangout, Polite Provisions. They are the Willy Wonka of craft cocktails, tinkering and lab testing every day, so anything you order from their insanely long list will be good. But for something warm and wintry yet a little sweet for the holiday mood, try the Brave Companion with bourbon, lemon, crème de cacao, and vanilla bean. Note: Polite is closed during the stay-at-home order, but all drinks can be bought for pickup at sister restaurant Fortunate Son next door.


You & Yours (Best Distillery)

USD grad Laura Johnson leveraged her economics and international business degrees with her night job as a bartender into eventually opening her own distillery that doubles as a design space (not professionally, but it’s just cool to look at). You & Yours started with a signature vodka and then a couple gins (a London dry with blood orange and clove notes and a Sunday gin that’s more grapefruit and orange); now they’ve expanded into canned cocktails on the lighter side (gin and tonic, cranberry vodka soda, vodka mule, key lime vodka soda, tangerine vodka soda, blood orange gin and tonic, Meyer lemon vodka soda, cucumber mint vodka soda).


Solare (Best Service)

Very few humans know wine like Solare owner Randy Smerik. He’s obsessive about almost everything at Solare, his Italian restaurant that’s weathered all phases of Liberty Station’s roller-coaster existence (the retail complex’s weak and sparse beginning, its coming of age, and now the shutdowns). Best bet is to just call and ask for wine recommendations. But they’re also doing cocktails to go, from Negronis to Palomas to the “Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore,” with Sierra Norte Black Corn Oaxacan Whiskey, Escubac (similar to gin, but without the juniper pine-iness), house bitters, Cocchi Vermouth, and grapefruit and lime bitters.

Holiday Sips at Polite Provisions

By Troy Johnson

Troy Johnson is the magazine’s award-winning food writer and humorist, and a long-standing expert on Food Network. His work has been featured on NatGeo, Travel Channel, NPR, and in Food Matters, a textbook of the best American food writing.

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