Beer might be San Diego’s golden child, but cocktail menus around the city have been giving some microbreweries a run for their money. It wouldn’t be much of a gamble to say that the beverage program at The Nolen is leading the pack. This Memorial Day, at a special edition of their “Sunday Requirement” brunch, the bar unveiled their menu of summer sips. The menu was designed to have cocktails that are good at any time of the day, regardless of if you’re building your own mimosa at brunch or taking the more adventurous route with one of their barrel-aged classic concoctions. The barrel-aged drinks are one of the most unique aspects of the program—a large batch of a recognizable all-liquor cocktail (such as a Manhattan) is allowed to age for two to three weeks in an oak barrel that sits above the bar. The result is an strong, albeit more smooth, drink that can be enjoyed by someone who wouldn’t normally order anything “on the rocks.”
It’s not often that I stop what I’m doing, hold my drink up and say, “Wow, I might want to drink a million of these.” The cleverly named Peat Rose by Luke Capozzoli is made with peat blended Scotch, black rose liquor, lemon, orgeat and pomegranate, topped with a dainty rosebud that swims playfully among the ice cubes. (Sidenote: in addition to being exceptionally delicious, the drinks are also really pretty.) Resident bartender Ian Rogers sat down with us to discuss how the menu was conceptualized, emphasizing that the team works together to cultivate a range of seasonal options that guests can enjoy no matter their pick of poison. Other standouts include the Not so Watermello by Valerie Bancroft, a tequila, watermelon and agave tincture concotion, and the Bronarmy Navy, which is a sumptuous mix of bourbon, cynar, lemon, orgeat and salt.