When it comes to bars and/or drinking, I’m usually all about the beer. There are so many good beers to be had around San Diego that I never get bored with them, and it’s a rare occasion that I have any kind of cocktail.
The Starlite Lounge is a good place for those rare occasions. The Starlite does have beer, and a decent (if smallish) selection at that — drafts included Ballast Point Big Eye IPA (the lone local brew), Anchor Liberty and Trumer Pilsner on a recent visit, and the bottle list included Chimay and Lindemans.
But the cocktails are the star at this bar. The Starlite has lots of specialty cocktails using ingredients such as blood oranges, several varieties of homemade bitters, cucumbers, brandied cherries, Pimms and so forth. Each of the cocktails is prepared fresh to order and many are served in specialty glasses. For example, the “Kentucky Colonel” — Buffalo Trace Bourbon, ginger beer, lemon and cherry vanilla bitters — is served in a copper (or faux copper) mug, presumably because people in Kentucky don’t drink out of glasses.
Another selling point for the Starlite is the decor. First there’s the hexagon-shaped entrance, which is kind of cool, then the bar itself. It has a cool old-school (albeit consciously so) feel to it, with a fancy chandelier hanging above, loads of booze bottles below and lining the perimeter are cocktail prep items such as wedges of blood oranges and brandied cherries.
The prices were reasonable for a somewhat upscale place with fancy drinks. All of the specialty cocktails were $8, and draft beers were $5.
There is a patio outside with another full bar along with tables and outdoor heaters. I walked through and it looked nice enough, but not as nice as the bar inside. The place also sells food and has dining tables set up. I didn’t look at the menu, though.
I wish this place was open during the day, as it would be perfect to be able to go in the early afternoon and slip from the bright sunshine into the darkness. Being on the way home from the airport, it also would be a perfect spot to bring a just-landed visitor who was ready to start having fun right away, but it seems like whenever friends or family come to visit, their flights land well before the Starlite’s 5 p.m. opening time.
Aside from the hours my only quibble with the Starlite was the service, and it’s a minor quibble. The bartenders were responsive and didn’t make us wait long for drinks or to pay up, but they weren’t very friendly. No hello when we walked in, no goodbye when we left. They weren’t exactly rude, just kind of there.