Cusp Dining & Drinks Debuts Winter Cocktail Menu | A Bit of History and Nostalgia Make for Some Stiff Drinks at Hotel La Jolla's New Restaurant

Cusp's mixologist Nate Howell
November 11, 2012

Cusp Dining & Drinks head bartender Nate Howell has struck a balance between the drink styles popular in his former home base, chilly Chicago, and the bright flavors found in the cocktails most popular in SoCal. Paying homage to the characteristics of each ingredient, Howell masterfully blends fresh fruits and vegetables with the dark spirits and infusions that San Diegans pine for as the temperature drops. Available now, the new drink menu has guests lined up at the bar to sip and savor all 10 libations.

Family Ties
‘Tis the season to bring family and friends together and Howell’s Kith & Kin, or “friends and family” does just that. Cusp’s own version of the hot toddy, this drink is made using cinnamon-infused pear cordial, Yellow Chartreuse, Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, fresh grapefruit, agave and hot water. If lackluster cocktails are what ail you, Cusp has the cure.

Cold Fusion
As with Howell’s new drink, The After School Special, the lesson to learn is that with the right syrup to bind them, ingredients come together to create a truly quaffable delight. This cocktail is made using Bluecoat gin, Cynar, house made ginger syrup, fresh grapefruit and soda water.

Much like its namesake, The John McEnroe is a fight to the finish and a champion among guests. The cocktail is made with Power’s Irish whiskey, Pimm’s, fresh lime juice and strawberries. It also contains a house made syrup of cumin, celery and carrots, which pack a punch of flavor. Game, set, match.

Black Flip!
Black Flip
Howell demonstrates the depth of his understanding about the origins of cocktails with the Sir Rudy, a flip that has roots that date back to the late 1800’s. This flip, which uses an entire egg, is made using Cruzan Black Strap rum, Del Maguey Vida, demerara, whole egg and nutmeg. The rich, creamy drink is touched with hints of smoke from the mescal and topped with a smooth froth that makes it a perfect after dinner delight.

“Cusp’s new drink menu offers a real range of cocktails that compliment Chef Lockhart’s coastal Mediterranean cuisine,” said head bartender Nate Howell. “Each one captures Southern California’s spirit and seasonal flavors while fusing it with the earthy tones found in traditional Italian digestifs.”

In addition to the 10 new creations, Howell has added two classic cocktails, the Vieux Carre, a mix of rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and bitters, and the Corpse Reviver #2, which has gin, Kina L'Avion, orange curacao, lemon juice, absinthe and a smile garnish. Also new to the Cusp drink menu is a seasonal “Pick Your Poison” gimlet using either gin or vodka that invites guests to select a mixer and serving style of their choice.

Cusp's bar lounge
Cusp Dining & Drinks introduces coastal Mediterranean small and sharable plates to the seaside town of La Jolla, San Diego. Utilizing locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients, Executive Chef Donald Lockhart combines crisp and vibrant flavors that pair perfectly with an expansive cocktail menu that’s served to the set of a beautiful panoramic San Diego view. Located on the 11th floor of Kimpton’s Hotel La Jolla, Cusp Dining & Drinks is open daily for breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m., dinner from 5 p.m. daily, and happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and complimentary valet parking is available.

The new cocktail menu is available to the public now.  For more information, please call (858) 551-3620 or visit Cusp online at or on Facebook at

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