Summer drinking season

By Jeff Josenhans | Drink Shrink

We all know it can be pretty much summer here in San Diego year-round, and both May and June were pretty gloomy, but there are still many plenty of indulgences available to us in this fine city that help complement our privileged weather patterns.

Jeff Josenhans

Jeff Josenhans

Barbecues, beach visits, and of course a great beverage selection all enhance the feeling of summer. With that, I offer some guidance on noteworthy local options worth giving a shot if they are not already on your drinking radar.


You have had plenty of IPAs. As much as the IPA helped make the San Diego beer scene what it is today, there’s a growing trend towards old world styles amongst the many city brewers. One type of style that fits the season is sour beers. Among those are Lambics, Gueuzes, Berliner Weisses, and Flanders Style Ales.

If you live in San Diego you are most likely visiting a brewery at some point. Try a sour beer if you get the chance to. They are more complicated to produce, and that’s why good brewers have an appreciation for them. Just don’t expect it to taste like what you’re used to, expect something like a marriage between champagne and beer, and drink it on a hot day.


Rose Wines have grown up in our local wine scene. The white zin has finally almost died out and consumers are learning that rose wines can be just as complex as reds and whites. They pair especially well with seafood and summer produce and are great for picnics.

Fallbrook produces an estate-grown Sangiovese Rosato that is fruit forward, crisp and balanced, and barrel fermentation gives it a rich texture. One of my other favorite local wineries, Vesper, produces some of the most interesting and complex wines in the county. They offer two single-vineyard rose wines that will impress your more wine-educated friends.


San Diegans love their whisky. Mezcal has been around for a while now. Gin is a great choice for summer, but not really that exciting to me at the moment. Vodka is vodka for the most part. Where there is a lot of action happening right now is with rum. Not mojitos or Bacardi commercials, but artisanal rums that work beautifully in a classic cocktail, at your tiki party, or just neat.

New brands like Papa’s Pilar offer great value, and is an American product using a solera system and different barrel regiments. Ballast Point is producing good rum as well, but my pick for rum in the city is, without question, Malahat. Nestled between the 805 and the 15, just north of the Miramar Air Base, you will find this gem well worth visiting, both for the quality of the rum they’re making up there and for the nautical theme they have designed their tasting room around.

Hopefully this adds some spice to your summer. Please share your stories and questions with me, and enjoy the brightest and warmest time of the year.

—Level 2 CMS Sommelier and Master Mixologist Jeff Josenhans — who just recently added a Cicerone certification to his resume — has changed the dynamic in The Grant Grill Downtown from a classic institution to an exciting lounge and elegant restaurant. He can be reached at

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