Searsucker SD: A Craft Cocktail Haven

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Step inside the mastermind of another Hakkasan urban restaurant, and experience the exquisite cuisine of Top Chef finalist Brian Malarkey. Searsucker, who shares this restaurant group with thirteen other highly reviewed restaurants– including La Jolla’s Herringbone, has two prime locations in San Diego, Del Mar and Downtown.  

Enter through the tall glass doors facing the corner of Market and Fifth downtown, and let your eyes move from the exposed brick walls, to the mismatched wooden chairs, to the unique rope chandeliers. Long wooden farm tables, large enough for 12, are spread throughout the dining room, inviting you to experience a night out with friends or to entertain out-of-town colleagues. Bar height tables line the outward facing window, allowing you to soak in the downtown nightlife. If listening to the footsteps of strangers while experiencing the light San Diego breeze flowing across your face brings you joy, a handful of tables along the sidewalk patio are there for the taking. If you’re planning to dine on the weekend, make sure to call in advance to reserve your favorite spot.

The name “Searsucker” came about when head chef Brian was talking to his wife about wearing a seersucker suit to the Del Mar race track. This suit is one that is known for its popularity with the working class in the 1800s, and then later adopted by upper-class college kids. It’s a suit that is okay getting wrinkled, and soon became a summer fashion trend for the college-aged folks. Searsucker is a place where all are welcomed to come as they are, to feel free to dress up in clothes that are comfortable, to feel at home, and to stay for hours.

One of the qualities that makes Searsucker stand out from the rest is its intentionally-designed cocktail program. Since the restaurant opened in Downtown seven years ago, their cocktail menu has gone virtually untouched. The lead bartender and bar manager have carefully curated a menu unique to San Diego’s craft cocktail culture. Notice the freshly picked herbs, the lightly dusted nutmeg, the in-house infused tequila. Each detail matters, and the team at Searsucker wants their customers to feel the personal care that goes into each drink.

We asked Lead Bartender Leo Barbosa for his favorite pairings of food and drink, and he didn’t lead us astray.  

Photo Credit: Corey Bruins

For Starters:

Mushroom “French Toast” or Beef Tartare

Choose between perfectly tender roasted mushrooms with a dollop of burrata cheese and slices of Texas toast, and a twist on a beef tartare classic, with egg yolk and beer mustard in a small mason jar. Marry your choice with a light and refreshing cocktail, and feel proud for starting your meal off with a serving of fruits and veggies.

Pairs well with…

+ French Squeeze or Buffalo Soldier

The French Squeeze is an approachable vodka-based drink with apricot, passion fruit, cardamom bitters, and lime. The intense passion fruit flavor brightens up this drink, but sits on the palate long enough for it to be a drink that you sip. Don’t let the fruity nature deter you from trying it, this cocktail twist was created with both men and women in mind.

Buffalo Soldier, on the other hand, is a spinoff of a Greyhound and includes fresh squeezed grapefruit and bourbon. The fresh fruit and herbs show the personal touch that is put into each made-to-order drink.

For the Seafood Lover:

Grilled Octopus, Crab Cake, or Mussels

Take a bite of grilled octopus, with a well-balanced crispy outer layer and tender inside, or enjoy the sweetness of a crab cake, topped with tabasco “roe” eggs. Sharing your meal with a couple of friends? Order Searsucker’s classic take on mussels, paired with toast and beautifully displayed for a table of two or three to share.

Pairs well with…

+ The Classics: Jalaberry Strawpeno, Snake in the Grass, Sucker Punch

Jalaberry Strawpeno

Be warned, the Jalaberry Strawpeno is no joke. This sous vide strawberry jalapeno infused spirit drink has a spice that is sure to take you aback. But for the margarita lovers, this fun twist will leave you satisfied.

Snake in the Grass

Probably the lightest drink on the menu, this smooth rendition of a cucumber gin mojito is easy to drink. This drink has remained on the menu for the last seven years, and is a restaurant favorite.

Sucker Punch

For the Moscow Mule lover, this newer menu item is for you. Ginger beer, coconut liqueur, and pineapple flavors mingle together, creating a sensational drink for those with a sweeter palate.

Mussels and Jalaberry Strawpeno (Photo Credit: Corey Bruins)

For Family-Style Ordering:

The Catch of the Day, Jalapeño Chorizo Corn, or Pork Belly

Everything on the menu is incredible, so it is likely that you will have a difficult time making up your mind. Convince your friends to order “family style” and share a few bites of various dishes. The Catch of the Day, always prepared the same but served with the freshest catch available that day, is flavored with bleu cheese and chipotle. It’s an unusual pairing, but somehow it works. The corn dish that comes in a small ramekin is filled with creamed corn, jalapeño, chorizo, and cilantro. Think Mexican street corn with an American twist. The pork belly is served on Texas toast with a poached egg on top. One bite and it will melt in your mouth.

Pairs well with…

+ Stirred Cocktails: Old, Old Fashion, 5th & Market, or Toronto

Old, Old Fashion

A favorite done right. This single-barrel, spirit-forward whiskey concoction will hit whiskey-lovers just right. Remove the ordinary old fashion extras (cherries, oranges, and club soda), and let the whiskey come out of hiding.

5th and Market

Cut with apricot and sherry, with dusted nutmeg on top, this woodford reserve beverage stood out amongst the lot.


Canadian Club Rye, Sugar, Bitters. Classic and simple.

Try any of the drinks from this category shaken with citrus, for a completely different cocktail flavor.

For the Main Course:

Short Rib Brisket

Your fork will seep right through this portioned for one brisket dish. Tender and juicy, you’ll definitely order this one on a return visit.

Pairs well with…

Moulin Rouge, ES Rabbit, or Amaro Never Dies

Moulin Rouge

The copper chalice alone makes this a drink you’ll want to order. Girls night won’t be complete without this fruity combination of raspberry and Saint Germain in a fun pink pigment.

ES (Extra Special) Rabbit

This off-the-menu item is a larger rendition of the all-time staple, the Peter Rabbit. Served in a tall glass with cucumber gin and a carrot on top, this drink can be spiced up with champagne for a weekend brunch cocktail.

Amaro Never Dies

A seasonal drink made with Toki Whiskey, this additive may not be on the menu forever. Try it while you can.

Moulin Rouge & ES Rabbit (Photo Credit: Corey Bruins)


Dessert Sampler

End the night with a dessert sampler of soft beignet-style doughnuts, a jar of banana puddin’, and a few housemade chocolate chip cookies, cut in half.

Pairs well with…

+ Decaf Coffee

Let’s face it. If you’ve made it this far into the menu, a nice cup of decaf coffee is probably the best combination for an already sweet dessert plate. Give your body what it’s craving.

Cheers to a night you won’t forget!

For the full menu, head here.

Katrina is an OBcean that spends her time drinking quality coffee and engaging in the community that she lives in.

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