10 Great San Diego Bars To Visit For a Holiday Cocktail!

The holiday season is our favorite time of the year to explore San Diego’s many amazing bars. The festive mood, time away from work to relax with friends and family, and the new seasonal drink menus all come together to create a perfect drinking experience!

We asked some of our favorite drinking buddies to tell us where they are most looking forward to having a drink when they need a break from shopping…this is what they said:

Paige NordeenThe Smoking Gun

This PR pro is out hustling to get her clients exposure in the media just about every night of the week, which means lots of dinners and drinks out on the town. Where’s her choice of spots to stop in for a holiday cocktail?

“The Smoking Gun is the best spot for holiday cocktails, brews and brisket! They were also just voted best chili for the second year in a row at the SoNo Chili Cook Off, so it’s the perfect place to warm up your belly on those colder nights.”


Laura Donadoni (The Italian Wine Girl) – Vino Carta

Laura Donadoni, Wine journalist, Wine Educator, Vinitaly International Italian Wine Ambassador, and blogger (The Italian Wine Girl) knows wine as well as anyone in San Diego, so it should come as no surprise that she has some thoughts on where to go for good wine this holiday season!

“One of my favorite drink spots in San Diego is Vino Carta, in Little Italy. I like that I can find unusual and esoteric wines from all over the world, I like chatting with the knowledgeable staff about the weirdest Italian varieties while sipping something picked from the store or from their great by the glass selection.”

“For instance, in this holiday season, it’s the only place in San Diego where you can taste Barolo Chinato by the glass, they are currently pouring Cappellano NV from Serralunga d’Alba. Barolo Chinato is an aromatised version of Barolo, it’s a meditation holiday liquor , usually consumed at the end of a rich meal for its digestive properties, perfect pairing with chocolate desserts or Christmas cakes. It is crafted adding spices, herbs and quinine bark to a Barolo DOCG wine, very rare to find it outside Piedmont, I love that Vino Carta is carrying it by the glass, because it makes me feel the holiday vibes I would have felt at home, in Italy.”

Gaby MenendezPolite Provisions

Gaby Menendez is doing marketing for Blue Bridge Hospitality, owners of many of your favorite restaurants on Coronado as well as Liberty Public Market, and runs the Instagram accounts @sdfoodies and @supportsdlocal, so she is out and about around the city more than most! Here’s her pick:

“Polite Provisions was the first holiday-themed bar I went to when I moved to San Diego, and it still holds a very special place in my heart. It’s become kind of a tradition to go there with friends during the holidays – and you can’t beat their cocktails – so that’s where you’ll find me!”


Jarnard Sutton – Fall Brewing

Nardcast Media Founder (publisher of  @behindthestick) has to know the bar scene in San Diego as well as anybody. So where will he choose to grab a drink this holiday season?

“I’ll be heading to Fall Brewing a lot. The have decorations in there and it feels festive AF! The team there is great, and of course you can’t beat the beer!”

Liz McCrayInsideOUT

Liz is the founder of Blood Mary Obsessed and the literally hosts Bloody Mary soaked party bus tours of San Diego’s best brunch spots! Here’s where she’s heading over the holidays:

“My pick is @insideoutsd, SD’s first urban oasis and newest addition to the MO’s Universe Restaurant Group In Hillcrest! Their holiday decor is gorgeous, and I’m obsessed with their ‘Horchata Brew’ cocktail, which is made from Horchata Vodka, Modern Times nitro cold brew coffee, whipped cream, and cinnamon.”


James TranNolita Hall

Don’t know James? You know his pictures, that’s for sure. He’s quickly built a reputation as one of San Diego’s best bar and restaurant photographers, and his shots of food, drinks, bartenders and chefs have been on just about every Instagram feed and magazine cover in San Diego! And trust us…this guy knows where to have a drink!

“I’ll be heading to Nolita Hall for the ‘Purple Rain’, a beautiful cocktail made with spring 44 gin, yzaguirre blanco , rinomato apertivo, and cream de violette,”

Photo by James Tran

Courtney Cordero – Polite Provisions

You’ve seen Courtney all over Instagram (under the name Coco San Diego), often with a drink in hand, and always out supporting and promoting the best of San Diego’s local businesses. She’s one of San Diego’s biggest fans, and we love her for it! Where’s here choice of holiday bar?

“Polite Provisions is an obvious pick for me! You walk in and can’t help to feel the Christmas spirit. Honestly, it’s hard to focus on a conversation because I am constantly stimulated by the attention to Christmas detail! From the perfectly crafted Holiday cocktail menu to the tacky Christmas drink ware, it’s one of my favorite holiday places in San Diego. Don’t be surprised if you find me downing yet another drink while posing in front of the tree!” #DoItForTheNog

Laura JohnsonThe Lodge at Torrey Pines

Trust us: Laura Johnson, founder of You & Yours Distilling, knows a good drink when she sees one! So when she tells you her favorite spots to go for a cocktail, you’d better pay attention! Here’s what she had to say:

“I looove going to a fun hotel or resort… maybe not somewhere I’m able to hang out at regularly but around the holidays it feels like such a treat. I love popping into the bar at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, their holiday decor is so festive and as soon as you step out of the car it just smells like Christmas! I’m particularly fond of their Sage & Sea cocktail with Y&Y Vodka, blood orange, lemon and burnt sage syrup.”

Dean HallGreystone

Fashion Stylist, tv style expert, and lifestyle blogger Dean Hall appreciates a stylish cocktail as much as he does a stylish wardrobe, which is why we knew he wouldn’t let us down with his pick of location for a holiday drink. His choice:

“There’s no question that I’ll be at Greystone over the holidays. They serve the best Old Fashioned in town made with Makers Cask 46, smoked, and served in crystal – gorgeous! Greystone has stolen my heart and become the best steakhouse I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at. Yes, that is quite a bold statement I know, but the high touch service, menu selection, ambiance, and damn good food allow for me to say so.”

Mike CoochRaised By Wolves

Mike is the Publisher of ThereSanDiego.com, which he started so he’d have a good excuse to go have more cocktails around San Diego (kidding…not really.)! Give him an Old Fashioned and some Christmas music and he’s good!

“I have three daughters, so I’ll be heading to the Westfield UTC Mall a LOT this holiday season! And I don’t mind one bit, because the UTC Mall has become an amazing place to enjoy good food and drinks while doing your shopping. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to go for a good cocktail with friends on a busy shopping day, and this year will be no exception. I’ll hit a few spots in the mall, but my drink of choice will be the Gunfighter Ballad at Raised by Wolves…no question. It’s under the ‘Stirred and Direct’ section of their menu…just the way I like them!”

Enjoy the Holidays!

You now have a great list of bars to hit for a holiday cocktail with friends and family! Wherever your shopping takes you, there is sure to be a good local bar that will help you take a break and celebrate the season. Enjoy!

See you there!

The Latest
The San Diego French Film Festival, presented by the Alliance Française San Diego, is back for its fourth edition! Get ready for a glamorous opening...
The NAT's 150th Anniversary
Hey San Diego! The NAT (San Diego Natural History Museum) is turning 150, and they’ve planned an epic celebration you won’t want to miss. Starting...
SeaWorld Summer Spectacular
SeaWorld San Diego has unveiled its all-new 2024 Summer Spectacular, which began this month and runs through Monday, September 2. Guests are invited to dive...
Get ready for an exclusive event that celebrates the very best of Camino Riviera! We’re talking divine cuisine, tantalizing cocktails, exquisite wine, compelling art, and...
Basta Little Italy
Get ready to say “Basta!” to ordinary dining experiences and welcome in a new era of Italian-inspired cuisine as celebrated chef and television personality, Sam...
In celebration of its third anniversary, the Golden State Ballet presents TRIFECTA, June 2 at San Diego Civic Theatre, and June 4 at The Irvine...