San Diego Spirits Festival Celebrates 10th Year Downtown

The San Diego Spirits Festival saw another successful year in the Port Pavilion on the San Diego Harbor. An intimate event in comparison to your typical festival, the San Diego Spirits Festival kept a strong focus on its namesake, bringing together an assortment of vodkas, tequilas, whiskeys and other libations. 

Big brands such as Ketel One and Don Julio came out to show off some of their newest flavors, with Ketel One’s grapefruit & rose making a strong impression. Tito’s vodka and Reed’s ginger brew teamed up to make ‘the American mule,’ and Lillet made a signature wine cocktail as well.

The festival was dominated, however, by smaller, emerging brands that brought the same panache to the table. Caramba Tequila got the party going with a number of extravagant margaritas. American soju surprised everyone by distancing its branding away from the drink’s Korean roots, and making a [rather tasty] soju-based margarita. 

44 North Vodka, an under-the-radar brand that secretly supplies the key ingredient to electric lemonades at Las Vegas pool parties and popular restaurants [Hash House a Go Go being one of them] showcased an excellent cocktail selection. Big Gin served alongside, with a number of namesake drinks. One of the absolute highlights, however, was Mule 2.0, which absolutely elevated pre-mixed cocktails by delivering a great product right out of
the can. 

With the historic Midway on one side, the downtown skyline on the other and perfect sunshine all the way through, this annual event couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The San Diego Spirits Festival took place over two days, and also included live entertainment [samba dancers and a snake charmer in tow!], a spirit competition and a bottle competition. While limited food is available for purchase at the festival, guests are strongly encouraged to eat prior to the event.

Cattle & Claw Extends Residency at Sofitel Los Angeles

Cattle & Claw, a pop-up restaurant located at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, has extended its residency to serve its namesake lobsters and burgers.

Due to popular demand, Cattle & Claw has curated a new menu for the fall and winter seasons, adding to their renowned five- and ten-ounce burgers, truffle and sweet potato fries, and spiced lobster rolls and lobster salads. New items include lobster mac’n’cheese, lobster bisque, poutine and surf’n’turf. Special brunch menu items include lobster frittata, lobster Benedict and lobster waffles, alongside bottomless mimosas, bloody Marys and lobster bloody Marys. 

Half and whole lobsters remain on the Cattle & Claw menu, with tarragon cream for dipping. Chef Pete Manfredini made the most of National Lobster Day on September 25 with a special lobster menu that lasted through the end of the month. 

Aero Club Sold to Waterfront Bar Owners

The Aero Club, an iconic dive bar located on the northern end of India Street leaving Downtown San Diego towards the 5 freeway, is closing its doors after 70 years. Owner Bill Lutzius has embarked on a new venture with the new Chinatown Bar and Grill in City Heights, and has sold the building to the owners of another longtime drinking establishment. 

Cousins Chad Cline and Jason “Rocky” Nichols, whose family has run The Waterfront since the 1970s, also bought the land the Aero Club sits on to ensure its longevity. They officially take over operations beginning October 1. The cousins also own Werewolf in the Gaslamp and Banzai in the Midway District.

Those fearing the upending of the classic establishment in favor of a posh new spot can rest easy. Cline and Nichols are devoted Aero Club admirers, and promised not to make any significant changes barring minor repairs. Cline claims to seek our purchases of other local dive bar institutions, just to keep them thriving for generations to come.

Hello Kitty Opens Pretty Pink Cafe and Cocktail Lounge in Irvine

That’s right, Hello Kitty has taken to the food and drink scene. A Hello Kitty tea room, cafe and parlor, marketing itself as ‘for grown ups,’ has set up shop in the Irvine Spectrum Center. 

The establishment spreads across two spaces with three separate themes. The casual Hello Kitty Grand Café stands adjacent to The Bow Room at Hello Kitty Grand Café, which offers high tea in the morning and afternoon, then becomes a cocktail lounge after 5 p.m. The Hello Kitty theme, as expected, runs rampant both in the décor and in edible form.

The Bow Room at Hello Kitty Grand Café is no joke, either. Reservations are required for afternoon tea service, which, at $55 per person, includes pots of tea, mini tea sandwiches, assorted sweets and pastries and Hello Kitty-shaped sugars. The cocktail lounge is reservations-only as well, with Hello Kitty-inspired drinks like the matcha matcha and the old fashioned with a Hello Kitty ice cube. The wine menu includes Hello Kitty sparking rosè, Hello Kitty pinot grigio and Hello Kitty prosecco.