Grant GrillNovember 17, 2011
Hotel Bar of the Year Entry
Name of Bar: Grant Grill at THE US GRANT Hotel
Location: San Diego
Ownership/Parent Company: THE US GRANT Hotel, owned by Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
Square Footage: 1,900
Open Date: July 2, 2009
Housed in the iconic 101-year-old US GRANT Hotel in San Diego, the Grant Grill has been revitalized to become one of downtown San Diego’s most thriving lounges. Known formerly as an old boys hangout, the Grant Grill has risen to become a foremost craft-cocktail lounge led my mixologist, Certified Sommelier and Director of Outlets Jeff Josenhans (who won best garnish at the 2011 Nightclub and Bar Shake It Up! cocktail competition in Las Vegas). An iconic restaurant since it’s opening in 1951, the Grant Grill lounge is now at the forefront of cocktail innovation and the craft-cocktail culture, not only in San Diego but the world.
A timeless venue that continues to thrill guests with its urban energy and accessible elegance, the Grant Grill draws both locals and visitors with its creative menus and standout approach to service and drinks.
Four Signature Cocktails anchor the Grant Grill cocktail menu, they include the Market Gimlet made with Square One Organic Cucumber Vodka, fresh grapefruit, tarragon-infused Natures’ Amber agave and muddled cucumber; the Privee Cocktail made with Maissenez Ginger Liqueur, passion fruit puree and Moet Chandon; The last cocktail made with Tanqueray Gin, rosemary-infused sugar syrup, pear puree and Moet Chandon. The fourth and most popular cocktail at the Grant Grill, is the US GRANT Centennial Manhattan created as part of the 100th birthday celebration for the hotel. The ever-innovative Josenhans created the Manhattan cocktail in a partnership with famed High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. The cocktail, made from Utah Rye Whiskey, Vermouth and premium old-fashioned bitters, is aged in an American Oak barrel for exactly 100 days. One of the first barrel-aged complete cocktails created by a hotel bar, the Manhattan Centennial Cocktail was unveiled at the hotel’s anniversary event on Oct. 15, 2010. The beverage has also been bottled with custom labels and is sold by the bottle to hotel guests for $180 and by the glass in Grant Grill for $12. The Centennial Manhattan is so popular that a second bottling was completed this year.
Elevating the Grant Grill’s cocktail program, created by award winning mixologist Jeff Josenhans are the Seasonal Cocktails, with distinct and unique menus that change every spring, summer, fall and winter. Utilizing the most seasonal and local produce available, Josenhans creates each menu with a new and creative approach. During 2011 the Winter menu offered guests the Citrus Seasonals, including the Buddha’s hand-made with Rock Sake Oregon Organic Sake, Meyer Lemon, Buddha’s hand-infused cane sugar syrup and jasmine water. The Spring cocktail menu featured the Seasonal Flower cocktails, including the Calendula Cooler made with Nolet Silver Gin, Rothman’s Apricot Liquor, saffron syrup and organic Gewurztraminer grape juice.
For this summer’s cocktail menu, Josenhans elevated his approach to local and seasonal by planting a garden on the hotel’s rooftop and using the plants and herbs to create the ‘Tails From the Patch cocktail menu. Taking a true approach to the farm to glass trend, the Rooftop Garden Tour cocktail made with Angleica-infused Tanqueray Sterling Vodka, muddled Russian Tarragon and Florence Fennel, plus white peach puree, utilized the angelica, tarragon and fennel all grown in the hotel’s garden and planted by Josenhans himself. The fall menu is always heavily influenced by the holiday season and this year’s holiday seasonal cocktails saw the return of the uber popular Smashing Pumpkin cocktail, which was featured on Food Network’s "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." Made with pumpkin-and star anise-infused 10 Cane Rum, Grand Marnier, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, saffron syrup, cardamom bitters and fresh Meyer lemon it is the taste of the holidays in a glass and totally unique to the Grant Grill. Each of the seasonal cocktail menus also features a Super Seasonal Skinny cocktail that has less than 200 calories, but all the punch and sophistication of the regular cocktails. Each year Grant Grill unveils new seasonal cocktail menus as the seasons change, adding to the impressive cocktail program and its unique concept as a hotel bar.
Launching in 2011 is Grant Grill’s most recent cocktail innovation. After many hours of experimenting with various bottling processes, Josenhans is the first mixologist to successfully craft bottle conditioned cocktails combining the beer and champagne method of fermentation, making THE US GRANT Hotel the first hotel to ever complete this process. Launching as "Cocktails Sur Lie," (Sur lie is a French wine-making term that means having been rested on its yeast), he has combined the highly complex (and rarely attempted) process of the champagne method with the brewer's method, adding yeast to the bottle and allowing the bottle pressure to create carbonation, then spirits and sugar are mixed in according to the champagne method while the hopping process adds the brewer's flare. A sneak preview of the Cocktails Sur Lie was available during a week-long Autumn Mixology Dinner and included the "Mule in a Bottle" made from Garden Flower Infused Vodka, Ginger, Rock Candy Sugar, California Hops and Champagne Yeast. The Cocktails Sur Lie will be available in the Grant Grill in 2012.
The value of the Grant Grill cocktails far exceeds generic hotel bar offerings. Each cocktail is made with only top shelf alcohol, the finest ingredients and liqueurs, rare and sought after additions plus house-made syrups and is priced at only $12 and are offered at half-off on Fridays from 10PM to close, making the Grant Grill cocktails an undeniable value.
To complement the Grant Grill hotel bar experience the bar staff does frequent cocktail tastings led by Jeff Josenhans, who brings his creativity and expertise to each session, and trains the staff on the techniques and ingredients for each cocktail so that they are educated about each drink and can speak to all the cocktails with a high level of knowledge. No bar visit is complete without exceptional bar food and with Chef de Cuisine Chris Kurth in the kitchen of the Grant Grill the options are endless. From the fried Egg Sandwich with guanciale, heirloom tomatoes, Parmesan and butter leaf lettuce to the Kobe Beef Sliders with onion sprouts and house-made ketchup, each bite at the Grant Grill is a tasty and cocktail-friendly way to enjoy a delicious evening out.
From the uniforms to the design, every detail in the Grant Grill creates an elegant, but inviting atmosphere to enjoy the spectacular cocktail creations. Each of the Seasonal Cocktails is presented in a different glass, vintage or new, acquired by Josenhans and used to showcase the cocktails to their fullest. Meticulous attention to detail extends beyond the menu with a chic design by Esteban Interiors. The design of the lounge area mirrors the philosophy of the hotel in a more approachable manner, highlighting it as a haven of playful sophistication, seductive settings and contemporary ambiance. The space includes a number of custom pieces designed exclusively by Esteban Lopez of Esteban Interiors. Metal bar tables fabricated locally and done in a silver sparkle finish with tops of Caesar Stone quartz slabs composed of stone and metal aggregate add graceful lines to the main room. To highlight the seating and dining pieces six Mooi crystal chandeliers with Mylar shades from Mixture were placed strategically above the bar tables. In addition to the stellar cocktails, gorgeous setting and flawless service the Grant Grill lounge offers live entertainment four nights a week. Entertainment has included soulful vocalists, jazzy local bands and DJs. Thursdays feature local jazz, blues, pop, soul and R&B performers, while Fridays welcome DJS to cerate a up tempo atmosphere. Saturday nights, local jazz and swing band The ArchTones provide songs that are danceable.
A true measure of success, the Grant Grill has received several nods from local, national and regional publications about their offerings and the one-of-a-kind experience provided. From local publications such as San Diego Magazine and Riviera to national outlets, such as Nightclub and Bar, Thrillist and AOL the Grant Grill experience leaves a lasting impression on every visitor. Every element at Grant Grill defines it as the Hotel Bar of the Year.