Cocktails at Polite Provisions — Photo courtesy of Polite Provisions
It's hard to isolate one reason to check out Polite Provisions and it's sister eatery, Soda & Swine, in San Diego's University Heights neighborhood. In fact, it's hard to narrow it down to even a handful. Why? Because the list of custom drink options is lengthy in the most glorious of ways, only made better by pairing your libation (or house made soda) with build-your-own bar food.
This uber-cool concept is centered around the genius bartending skills of Erick Castro, formerly of San Francisco's Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch, paired with two-star Michelin Chef, Jason McLeod. The menu and design tap into–literally–vintage drugstore and pharmacy days in both menu and design.
But let's focus on the drinks, shall we? Remember the days when friends would gather around the soda fountain? Erick Castro combed through vintage pharmaceutical books packed with house made recipes to find inspiration for Polite Provisions' massive cocktail menu mixing ingredients such as house made bitters, soda pop, tinctures and syrups as a nod to their medicinal uses.
Cocktails on tap? Yes, please. The massive custom tap system not only features 18 craft beers on tap, but eight white wines, nine red wines, three carbonated cocktails, two non-carbonated spirituous cocktails, two spirits and one tap of each–amaro, dry vermouth, aperitif and sherry. There's also four seltzer water draft handles and iced coffee on draft brewed with beans roasted just four blocks away at the locally owned Coffee & Tea Collective. The coffee is kept at temperatures just above freezing so it stays fresh.
Restaurant Interior — Photo courtesy of Polite Provisions
Other craft cocktails are mixed on the spot. But, carbonated cocktails are created by reverse-engineering sodas and then spiking them. Not to mention, Erick Castro's new passion of brewing non-alcoholic house made sodas such as Egg Creams, Phosphates and Fizzes provides a nice middle-of-the-workday alternative.
This is also the place to bring the amari aficionado. Polite Provisions boasts a rare lineup of this popular bittersweet Italian herbal liqueur commonly ordered as an after dinner drink, including a 40-year-old Fernet Branca Vintage 1970s.
Late night munchies can be ordered from Soda & Swine brought over to Polite Provisions to enjoy in the bar even after midnight (Soda & Swine is open daily from 4:00pm to 1:30am). The menu is based around two classic staples: meatballs and apple pie. Picture a meatball, ground in an old-fashion butcher shop setting, is available in basic or "Smashed" meatball form, in various flavors including chicken, pork, beef, chorizo and vegan topped with a variety of savory sauces and finished with a tough of cheese. Sides salads and small plates are served a la carte.
Bar exterior — Photo courtesy of Polite Provisions
And, we haven't even scratched the surface. You'll just have to multiple times to soak it all in.