Photography By: Kambria Fischer
Photography By: Kambria Fischer

5 Boozy Brands Started in San Diego and Where to Enjoy Them

Sip’s Up in San Diego! From Vodka to Hard Seltzer, You Need to Try These Premium Alcoholic Drinks

San Diego’s reputation as America’s craft beer capital has been around for some time; Karl Strauss (the county’s oldest brewery) kicked things off in 1989 and Ballast Point selling to Constellation Brands for $1 billion in 2015 being a high-water mark. Today, America’s Finest City is bustling with more than 150 local breweries. That same entrepreneurial spirit has extended to innovations in small-batch spirits, hard seltzers and boozy kombucha. Featuring premium, better-for-you ingredients and full of flavor, the palate-pleasing options are seemingly endless. Here are five boozy brands founded in San Diego that you should put on your must-try list! San Diego Alcohol Brands


1 | Locals Only Vodka

Location: Oceanside

Locals Only Vodka is on a mission to create an epic tasting California craft vodka using locally sourced ingredients while striving to make our planet a better place. Locals Only is a premium, handcrafted vodka produced at Pacific Coast Spirits just blocks from the beach in Oceanside. “We thought there was a space for a fun, California-lifestyle vodka that represented our home of San Diego,” co-founder Sean Heal says. “And the name was to encourage people to live like a local, wherever they are.” Made of California grapes and non-GMO grain, Locals Only is distinctively smooth and a touch sweet—a rad twist on vodka’s commonly neutral taste. P.S. Look for Locals Only as the official vodka of Super Girl Surf Pro Festival (Sept. 17-19) at the Oceanside Pier!

Where to Sip: When it comes to enjoying this locally crafted liquor, we suggest none other than Mission Pacific Hotel’s High/Low restaurant in Oceanside. This beachfront establishment offers up a mean brunch menu with favorites like fried chicken and waffles, vegan banana pancakes and Cardiff Crack Hash. Pair one of these decadent dishes with a signature bloody mary crafted with Locals Only vodka, peppers, tomato, bacon and celery!

San Diego Alcohol Brands

2 | Pacific Coast Spirits

Location: Oceanside

Billed as California’s first combo farm-to-table restaurant and grain-to-glass distillery, Oceanside’s Pacific Coast Spirits offers a little bit of everything all under one roof. You’ll find various kinds of whiskey, bourbon, vodka, gin, rum, brandy and even agave spirits. All are handcrafted in small batches using raw ingredients and organic grains. The same commitment to using premium, locally sourced ingredients extends to the sustainable food menu, which includes Distillery Fries (featuring chorizo and whiskey cheddar cheese sauce) and O’side Hot Chicken. Another reason to patronize: like their friends at Locals Only, PCS protects the environment as a 1% for the Planet member. 

Where to Sip: Head to Pacific Coast Spirits’ restaurant, Farmhouse, for a farm-to-table dining experience! Here, you can enjoy SoCal sunshine, tasty bites and Pacific Coast Spirits premium liquor in the form of refreshing cocktails!


3 | Stone Brewing

Location: Escondido

Poised to celebrate its 25th anniversary in September, Stone Brewing was one of the pioneers to spark the craft brewery scene in San Diego. Today, it’s the ninth-largest in the US. Known primarily for its hoppy IPAs, the brand has amassed a fervent following, and it continues to delight fans with new innovations, such as this year’s debut of Buenavida Hard Seltzer. In addition to a tantalizing array of taps, the beautiful Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido and its Liberty Station location both offer great food for pairings (Brewmaster’s Brisket Dip anyone?) and ample outdoor seating.

Where to Sip: Taste Stone’s special 25th Anniversary Triple IPA on Sept. 17 at its Oceanside or Kettner tap rooms. This hoppy brew is best enjoyed on a warm day under a shady patio!

San Diego Alcohol Brands

4 | Ashland Hard Seltzer

Location: Cardiff-by-the-Sea

Located in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Ashland Hard Seltzer set out with one simple goal: to make a guilt-free, great-tasting libation made of all-natural ingredients, 5% alcohol and little else. The result? A refreshing bit of craft-brewed bubbly with no sugar, no fat, zero carbs and only 99 calories in each 12-ounce can. Ashland offers eight fruity flavors, including blackberry lemonade, mango strawberry, pineapple and watermelon. One of its newer creations, The Bellinger Bomb (named after co-owner and LA Dodger Cody Bellinger), is an explosive triple of cherry, lime and blue raspberry. Batter up!

Where to Sip: Sip a few cans of Ashland Hard Seltzer on the rooftop deck of downtown San Diego’s Hotel Solamar. This Gaslamp Quarter hotel offers plenty of space to kick back or play with its turf lawn, lounge seating, cabanas and games like cornhole!


5 | JuneShine

Location: North Park

If you’re seeking a buzzy beverage as transparent as the clean food you eat, look no further than San Diego’s JuneShine. This hard kombucha (6% ABV) is brewed with real, organic ingredients (green tea, honey, cane sugar, fruit juice and spices) and its ultra-smooth jun kombucha base. JuneShine contains all the good stuff (probiotics, antioxidants and vitamins) and none of the bad (no additives, preservatives, natural flavors, rice syrup or corn syrup). The hardest part might be deciding between chili mango or blood orange mint!

Where to Sip: There’s no better spot to taste the smoothness of JuneShine’s boozy kombucha than the brand’s very own JuneShine Ranch! This chic San Diego tasting room has all of your favorite flavors on tap, so you can belly up to the bar and sip the day away.

San Diego Alcohol Brands

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Donovan Roche has been a writer and editor for more than 30 years, covering everything from music and entertainment to business and lifestyle. He co-founded and served as editor in chief of SLAMM, a San Diego-based lifestyle and music magazine, and he has written for numerous SoCal and national outlets, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego Reader, Entrepreneur and Adweek. He lives in San Diego, where he is an avid hiker and concertgoer.

Website | + posts

​Currently based in San Diego, ​Kambria Fischer is a lifestyle photo​grapher known for her impactful​, authentic​ ​imagery​ of lifestyle brands, food, ​people and travel.​​ ​​She holds a ​BA in Journalism​ and Public Relations​​ from CSULB and has an accomplished professional background in the hospitality and tourism industries. You can find Kambria hiking or playing beach volleyball on the weekends and eating tacos almost any night of the week.
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