Summer is winding down for most of the Country, but in sunny San Diego, we live the beach season vibe year-round. To help you stay swimsuit ready, we’ve got a list of the best places to find healthy cocktails that won’t ruin your waistline. These places all serve up calorie conscious options and come with a great atmosphere, friendly staff and some pretty amazing food! Check them out and we bet you’ll have a hard time picking a favorite! If you’d like help planning a San Diego tour for your friends or family that incorporates any of these great locations, contact So Diego! We specialize in neighborhood walking food and history tours and can customize any of their San Diego tours just for you!
A sleek and welcoming space located in the heart of Little Italy, this venue features two floors of dining as well as an outdoor rooftop bar adorned with live trees, cabanas and comfortable lounge seating – all featuring the same awesome service and food as well as award winning cocktails! Their cocktail menu changes with the seasons (as does their food menu as they source as much as possible from local farms) and features creative healthy options for any palate. Our favorite’s right now are the Stone Blossom made with whiskey, apricot, pineapple, lemon and demerara or the Artichoke Hold with bourbon, maraschino, cynar and orange bitters. Insider’s tip is that they take reservations and offer valet parking both great additions in this busy hip neighborhood. Kettner Exchange is the perfect addition to have a perfect date night in Little Italy!
When a restaurant has a tagline like “Come Unwind Your Soul”, you know the cocktails they serve up are going to be fresh and delicious. This Japanese gem in little Italy has some pretty amazing artistic décor including a full bar that sits under twinkling faux cherry blossom trees. Their bartenders use fresh local, housemade ingredients and cocktails come adorned with the most beautiful garnishes – almost too pretty to eat! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but we love the Japanese to English, like a Manhattan, it is made with sesame infused Iwai Japanese Whiskey, spice of amaro and Italian Torino. Another favorite is the Elyx Fix made with Elyx Vodka, orange curacao, lemon, cucumber and mint. The food includes authentic appetizers, small plates and sushi and your server can help you pick plates to pair with your beverages! Cloak and Petal is also in walking distance of many of Little Italy’s restaurants which makes it the perfect pre-dinner cocktail spot!
Located in the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter in the heart of downtown San Diego, this Greek Island and Mediterranean inspired restaurant is known for their sky-high ceilings, chic lounge, sidewalk patio and some of the best meze plates and cocktails downtown. Their friendly bartenders make all the drinks from scratch and can customize if needed. They focus on flavorful, fresh ingredients to keep their infusions healthy and delicious. We recommend trying the Medusa’s Mistress a blend of Acai-infused vodka, raspberry, fresh lemon and demerara or the Cypress Gin N’ Juice made with gin, blood orange, cucumber, mint, fresh lime, demerara and house bitters. If you’d like something to nibble on while enjoying your cocktails, check out their hot and cold meze plates (small shared appetizers) or one of their delicious salads.
This great spot also located in the Gaslamp Quarter serves up fresh, local, seasonal ingredient inspired cocktails that are designed to pair with and enhance the items on their food menu. Master mixologists will help you select the best option to go along with the delicious food you order. They have many healthy choices on their menu, but our favorites are the Snake in the Grass made with cucumber gin, bruised mint, lime and soda or the Blackberry Smash with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, blackberries, mint and lemon. They can get busy, especially on the weekends so consider making a reservation in their restaurant or show up a little early to grab a bar seat before the crowds come.
Located in Mission Hills, this quintessential neighborhood eatery serves up some healthy libations in an open-air restaurant with some fabulous food! Their Libation menu changes with the season and features a list of Bright and Refreshing as well as Spirit Forward options. Each drink is hand made with local farm fresh ingredients and they use minimal added sweeteners besides natural fruit. Our favorite healthy options are Half of My Heart made with Havana Club Blanco Rum, lime and grapefruit essence or for a smokier tasting choice try the Oaxacan Old Fashioned made with blanco tequila, mezcal, chocolate bitters and orange. They offer happy hour daily from 3:00 – 6:00 pm and have drink specials including select $7 specialty cocktails and plenty of delicious food options.
This University Heights gem is tucked away on quiet Park Boulevard but well worth the stop! They have a dual bar set-up separated by an open-air courtyard that makes you feel right at home. With simple but inviting furnishings and décor, they serve up all the classics as well as a creative list of cocktails with housemade infusions and fresh local ingredients. Our favorite healthy options are the University Lights with cucumber gin, grapefruit cordial, lime and soda or the Cabrillo with green chili vodka, mezcal, fresh pineapple, lime and spiced rum.
What’s more enjoyable than sipping on healthy craft cocktails, well consuming them with an oceanfront view at this central Mission Beach location! Serving California cuisine inspired by the Pacific Rim they have an inventive sushi list and plenty of delicious small plates to eat while enjoying your cocktail and soaking up the essence of the beach! This rooftop location overlooking the boardwalk and ocean will invent cocktails for you based on preferences or you can choose from their seasonal list. Our favorites currently are the Refresh made with Bulldog Gin, St. Germain Elderflower, cucumber, lime and soda or the Blood Orange Old Fashioned with Wild Turkey 101 Rye, blood orange, spiced demerara syrup, amarena cherry and orange bitters.
Located on the 2nd floor overlooking the Pacific Beach boardwalk and ocean, this vibrant locale offers panoramic views, innovative libations, delicious food and lively entertainment. Their cocktail list features the classics as well as progressive twists featuring local fresh ingredients that perfectly pair with their food menu and change with the seasons. Choose one from their Light & Refreshing or Spicy & Spirit Forward sections for the healthiest options. Our favorites are the Head of the Hydra with Don Julio Blanco, Ancho Reyes Verde, lime and house tequila reduction or the Merlion with Tito’s, Drambuie, Chambord, pineapple, lemon, lime and orange bitters.
With amazing views of the ocean, this recently renovated La Jolla hotspot is one of the best places in the City to grab a cocktail. They offer all the classics and have innovative, healthy modern creations that feature housemade ingredients and handcut ice. Their cocktail list includes a section that features beverages inspired by 23 neighborhoods of San Diego that are all fresh and delicious. We love the La Jolla with dehydrated mango, lime and chile infused tequila, fresh lime and agave nectar or the North Park with Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Cimmaron Reposado, hopped grapefruit cordial, lemon and sea salt. Georges at the Cove is also one of the best spots in La Jolla for happy hour. Monday – Friday 3:30pm – 6:30pm they offer $8 specialty cocktails, $4 beers and $7 white and red wine selections. If you’re more of a night owl they also have late night happy hour on Friday and Saturday from 9:00 pm – Midnight. Make sure to check out happy hour at Georges next time you find yourself in La Jolla!0