Queensborough—Your NYC Fix Right In San Diego
In 2005, award-winning mixologist, Sam Ross, changed my world forever when he created the Scotch-based cocktail known as the Penicillin.
As a former resident of New York City, I spent many nights sipping on one—or two—of these smoky, spicy drinks, and while the recipe isn’t complicated, I quickly learned that there was nothing more satisfying than finding a bar that also appreciated a well-made Penicillin.
It was my love of a Penicillin and my former home that drew me to Gaslamp’s newest addition, Queensborough.
A nod to 1920s New York City, the two-story space features custom-made white marble table tops, diamond-tufted leather booths, authentic subway turnstiles, and New York subway tokens set into the tile flooring. They even procured a vintage phone booth-turned-photo booth.
“Brethren Collective,” made of Shane Brennan (Holsem, Searsucker) and Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand, Bang Bang), are the team behind Queensborough. Brennan actually grew up in Queens. Matthew Ellis of Blue Motif Architecture (Juniper & Ivy, Crack Shack, Kettner Exchange) is the designer and a partner alongside brothers James and Edward Kaen, who own the Keating Hotel and the building where Queensborough is located.
Following the theme, the cocktail program features drinks created in New York City, from the classic Manhattan and Ramos Gin Fizz to the Cosmopolitan and my one true love, the Penicillin. With my Penicillin-craving fully satisfied, I tried the, “I only do Brooklyn on the weekends” cocktail, which features Henebery Spiced Whiskey, Amaro Montenegro, Dolin Dry, and Luxardo Maraschino cherries.
My friend, a lover of gin fizz, switched her drink up to try the QB Buck— white peach-infused Russian Standard, lemon, ginger, peach bitters, and soda. If drinking neat is more your style, you’ll find a large collection of hard-to-find bourbons and ryes, Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskeys and a few gin varieties. Alongside Travis Carter (Harvest by The Patio), Mike Vizcarra highlights California craft distilleries with 18 taps of local beer.
If you are coming for the cocktails, definitely stay for the food. In his first executive chef role, Taylor Houseman has designed a menu that pairs perfectly with the cocktail list and is made for sharing.
The red bell pepper citrus chilled soup was the exact thing we needed on an unseasonably humid summer day—the hibiscus crystals on top gave the dish the perfect crunch.
Between the surf and turf sliders, the fried brussels, and the cheese board, my taste buds were thanking me and my stomach was along for the ride.
The champagne vinaigrette and white balsamic reduction on the Brussel sprouts was a pleasant change from the heavier dressings that so often accompany the dish.
The dessert menu is aptly named Save Room—and so we did. Inspired by a NYC trend, you can find cookies and booze milk on the menu alongside beignets, and a fresh-from-the-oven peach cobbler. Lured by the butter toffee gelato on the cobbler, we indulged ourselves and enjoyed every last bite.
Queensborough Downtown, the underground lounge, is expected to open in September. While the details are still under wraps, if the current menu is any indication, it’s sure to become a Gaslamp hot spot.