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Pony Room at Rancho Valencia
The hotly anticipated new Solterra winery in Leucadia by architect Brian Church
20 Ways to Spend Your Summer Nights
Forget daytime. S.D. comes alive when the sun goes down. From the new cool to the old-school classics, here’s your playbook from dusk till dawn.
Amy Finley, Gillian Flynn, Seth Combs and David Morris | Photo: Robert Benson and Andrea Bricco | May 24, 2013
There’s nothing like rediscovering a classic. And that’s precisely how we’re feeling about the lounge at Manhattan of La Jolla (manhattanoflajolla.com). Nestled in the Empress Hotel, Manhattan is a den of nostalgic glamour that recently underwent a face-lift. The fish tank is aglow. The vested bartender, Mike, is shaking martinis, and music in the lounge is slap-and-tickle on Thursday and Friday. “It’s a classic old-school piano bar with romantic ambiance,” says Sam Migdal, girl about town and brand ambassador for the new luxury car service app Uber. “Just text Uber” is pretty much the buzz phrase when it comes to safely planning a night on the town. And we have a hunch Migdal, decked out in a vintage frock from Boutique De Marcus downtown, is the reason word spread so fast. Sure, gals like Migdal love the trendy hot spots, but there’s nothing like a classic. “It’s just unexpected and charming for date nights,” she says, “and I love their Grey Goose dirty martini.”
Equestrian-inspired, the clubby Pony Room at Rancho Valencia (ranchovalencia.com) has the magical ability to make cares go away. It could be the custom leather chairs (like butter!), the exacting low-cal margarita, or the elegant lighting that casts a romantic glow. We’ll let you decide.
The elegant Grant Grill (usgrant.net) continues its star power with a cocktail program so rule-breaking, the cool kids are starting to slip into the metallic leather and tufted velvet banquettes. It’s all thanks to the Sir-Mix-a-Lot, Jeff Josenhans, a boutique spirit specialist who had us at his bottle-conditioned Cocktails Sur Lie (oh, that mule!) and his seemingly insatiable yen to raise the bar on classy alcohol consumption. His latest showcase is perfect for summer, enlisting fresh, cold pressed juice. If anyone can reinvent the apple martini, it’s Josenhans. He takes the juice of one whole Granny Smith and adds Casa Noble Blanco, confetti cilantro and key lime. The result? Pure. Liquid. Gold.
From El Dorado’s dance floor to the bars at Avant and Searsucker, gin is summer’s hottest spirit, taking over the cocktail scene. “It’s vodka’s outgoing, sophisticated older brother,” says Sycamore Den’s Eric Johnson. Sorry, Russia.
“Keep Leucadia Funky” is this beach town’s unofficial motto, but with the arrival of a sleek new winery and restaurant, it might want to reconsider. There’s absolutely nothing funky about Solterra (solterrawinery.com). Owner and vintner Christopher Van Alyea handpicked Del Mar architect Brian Church to design the space, a 1957 building that houses a tasting room with garage-style doors that open onto the 101. There’s a bocce court out back and the airy winemaking area is available for private parties. “It’s so different because it’s not just a restaurant,” says Church. “It’s casual but there’s a sophistication to it.” The menu goes the Mediterranean tapas route, with lots of flatbreads for sharing and a kicky grilled octopus that pairs perfectly with Van Alyea’s robust cabernet.
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