Shhhhh! Keep your voice down, climb through a secret entrance, and find a hidden world of dim lighting, tiki drinks and old-timey cocktail names (and customs). Getting to these secret bars (or bars-within-bars) is half the fun. The other half is sharing a hush-hush experience with the few others there to enjoy it.
Where: 4805 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
Neighborhood: Convoy District
Based on the healing methods from the ancient Chinese medical text Wushi’er Bingfang, or Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments, this Convoy gem transports you into an apothecary of craft remedies and calmness that will heal your mind, body and soul.
Where: 548 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
We’ve got just the lawyer for your nightlife needs. He’s a fella by the name of Eddie O’Hare. Find the door to this law office on downtown’s Fifth Avenue and be transported back a century with dusky lighting, craft cocktails and a cellphone- and flip-flop-free bar.
Where: 777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
Neighborhood: East Village
If you’re heading to the restroom of East Village eatery Neighborhood and notice someone disappear behind a stack of kegs, don’t worry, you’re not seeing things. Booking a reservation is the only way to get inside this small and immaculately appointed bar, adorned with a wall of skulls.
Where: 675 W Beech St, San Diego, CA 92101
Neighborhood: Little Italy
Pass through a walk-in cooler inside Little Italy’s Craft & Commerce to find this immersive tiki bar, a collaboration between CH Projects and tiki expert Martin Cate (of San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove fame). This diminutive tiki bar has made a name for its strong cocktails and syrupy-sweet cave-like ambiance, where no detail has been left unturned.
Where: 3054 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
Neighborhood: North Park
Seven Grand’s whiskey selection only gets more impressive when you open the unadorned door to Bar Three Piece, whose 250 bottles will take some time to sample. The hardwood floors, oil lanterns and booths are modeled after Japan’s decadent whiskey bars. Hand-rolled cigars from Nicaragua can be puffed with a whiskey on the private patio.
Where: 4301 La Jolla Village Dr Ste #2030, San Diego, CA 92122
Neighborhood: UTC/La Jolla
You’ll have to forget everything you think you know about malls to believe that this upscale retail store/hidden bar exists in Westfield UTC. Believe it, though: A rotating fireplace platform is the entryway to the bar, where you can order some of San Diego’s favorite cocktails (this venture is from the same folks behind False Idol and Noble Experiment) and exorbitantly expensive drinks (a $790 Old Fashioned, for example).
Where: 901 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Good luck trying to find your way into this Alice in Wonderland-themed wine bar that lies behind a hidden door. Its subterranean location, plus the fact that it’s a must-know San Diego establishment, land it Good luck trying to find your way into this Alice in Wonderland-themed wine bar, which lies behind a hidden door. Its subterranean location, plus the fact it’s a must-know San Diego establishment, land it on this list. Call it what you will — the small-bite menu, wine and cocktails are not to be missed.
Where: 910 Grand Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Neighborhood: Pacific Beach
Start with poké, end with tiki! This PB paradise combines a love of SoCal comfort with Polynesian-inspired décor, exotic drinks, and tasty plates & pupus. During the holidays, come back for Sippin’ Santa, the Christmas tiki pop-up with even more festive cocktails and bright lights for a holly jolly good time.
Where: 831 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
You’re going to want to read up on this speakeasy at the bookshelf when you enter the Moxy Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. In honor of America’s founding fathers and the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, this timeless den only gets better with age – just like the spirits.
Where: 777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
There is no menu at this all-inclusive bar by CH Projects, because the cocktails are curated just for you! After entering through a fridge, you will be greeted with a glass of champagne and three personally crafted cocktails for the fixed price of $65. Bask in the pretty & pink ambiance for 90 minutes of simple sippin’ pleasures.
The original blog copy was written by San Diego Magazine.