Cocktails sipping away at SD craft beer


Photo courtesy of LexnGer/ Flickr CC Craft cocktails have been all the hype in San Diego.

Photo courtesy of LexnGer/ Flickr CC
Craft cocktails have been all the hype in San Diego.

The liquor industry was once the outsider of the alcohol world but in recent times has been steadily gaining popularity due to a major cocktail reversal that one could even call a cultural renaissance.

Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide controversy, a constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of all alcoholic beverages. This seemingly unfortunate embargo lasted 13 years, from 1920-1933.

This article is not meant to advocate for underage drinking. On the flip side, even if you’re over 21, be mindful that drinking alcohol diminishes everyone’s ability to function properly.

For a long time the city of San Diego has been dubbed the craft beer capital of the United States, and some might even say of the world.

Ballast Point, Stone Brewery Gardens, and Karl Strauss are three of the most popular craft breweries in San Diego.

Places such as Park and Rec., Madison, and Polite Provisions are some favorite craft eateries in the North Park and University Heights area.

The Wall Street Journal has said that total alcohol revenue for producers rose 30 percent over the past 10 years to $68 billion from $52.2 billion. Of that, liquor increased 40 percent to $24.1 billion. While the craft beer market is still well over that of the spirits, there is no denying that many distilleries have been stepping up their game.

Students at the University of San Diego who are over the age of 21 shared their thoughts on this new shift in popular culture.

Senior Colton Michael Moore explains why he prefers craft cocktails over craft beer.

“It really depends on my mood,” Moore said. “Cocktails are more refreshing and less filling, brews are just more filling and heavier, especially those porters and stouts.”

Okay, so what exactly are craft cocktails? Simply put, they are cocktails in which every element that goes into the drink is handmade or tailored specifically to the drink.

SDSU graduate Craig Lieberman was a barista at Starbucks and Lestat’s on Park. Lieberman compares how mass produced coffee and single serve coffee relates to craft cocktails and craft beer.

“When I was at Starbucks, we had a routine when we made drinks,” Lieberman said. “Pour warm milk, press button, use big spoon, done. But in Lestat’s we made each cup to order and the tools we used were crafty and fun, craft cocktails is essentially the same. But beer is made in huge batches nowadays so there’s not too much craftiness.”

Nowadays, you will see drinks served in elegant and crafty custom glassware usually poured over custom ice cubes. The drinks are then moderately mixed with house-made syrups and finished with a dash of aromatic Angostura bitters.

There are some restaurants that go the extra mile and even make barrel-aged spirits that are prepared by bartenders with unusual flavor combinations. Whether simple or complex, the results are cocktails that are made with a lot more care than your usual mixed drinks and deliver a much more satisfying experience. Essentially, it’s a value added service and product.

That is what the the craft beer and craft cocktails tend to sell, and deliver an experience. It’s no longer about the simply made Smirnoff cranberry drink. Now it’s about craft drinks such as the Rose Hinted Glass cocktail, which is made by VSOP Cognac, fresh lemon juice, fennel tea syrup, a few drops of rose water, and garnished with two mint leaves. The process of making craft cocktails is a lot like that of the artisan food movement, focusing on flavor, high quality ingredients and taking your time in order to do those ingredients justice.That is a craft and a beauty.