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Home Beer Bartenders’ night out: San Diego

Bartenders’ night out: San Diego

Just got into town? Steal insider recs from Hamilton's Tavern bartender Jeff Morrison.
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Jeff Morrison at Hamilton's Tavern / Photo by Paul Body for DRAFT

Jeff Morrison at Hamilton’s Tavern / Photo by Paul Body for DRAFT

Just got into town? Steal insider recs from the guys and gals behind some of the country’s best beer bars. Here’s where a tapped-in bartender drinks, eats and hangs on his nights off in San Diego:

“I often head to Sycamore Den; this place is super-rad. The vibe is like your dad’s house in the ’70s: old wood, retro-looking. Their cocktails are out of this world. They have a great one called the Wolf Ticket made with whiskey, peach liqueur, simple syrup, lemon and bitters. For food, it’s Carnitas’ Snack Shack in North Park. It’s outside courtyard seating and you usually have to wait in a huge line to order at the window, but the food is really great: I always get the steak sandwich; it’s nice and spicy, plus the fries with their housemade bacon ketchup are phenomenal. Cantina Mayahuel in University Heights is the No. 1 spot to get tequila in all of San Diego, but they also have really good food. If I want tacos, I usually go here—I like the grilled fish or the sirloin. It’s got an Old Mexico feel to it with an open kitchen; if you sit at the bar, they make the tortillas right in front of your face. The guy who owns the place is friends with Guillermo Sauza of the Sauza Tequila line. Guillermo is there all the time; that guy’s kind of a legend with five generations of Sauzas all having made tequila. He now makes a tequila called Fortaleza, which the place carries. They use an old stone mill and basically make the tequila the way they used to in the 1800s. All the bartenders I know in the craft beer scene go to Live Wire. It was one of the first cool dive spots to do craft beer. It’s got a cool look to it: really old and dingy. They don’t decorate it; there’s one pool table and just a bunch of craft beer. They don’t try too hard, which is kind of the allure. I always end the night at Hamilton’s. If you’re going to get a beer anywhere, it’s Hamilton’s. But it’s not just the beer. There’s no windows or anything: It looks like you’re walking into someone’s home. If I didn’t work at Hamilton’s, it’s still the type of bar I would go to all the time.” -Jeff Morrison, Hamilton’s Tavern

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