A drinking den that doubles as a time warp? We’re so there

Raised by Wolves, San Diego
Zach Benson, courtesy of Raised by Wolves

There’s something about the delightful exclusivity and mysterious allure of a speakeasy that makes cocktails taste even better. The latest in surreptitious sipping landed in La Jolla this spring, from the group behind some of San Diego’s hippest spots to imbibe (including Polite Provisions and Ironside Fish & Oyster), and it’s pretty spectacular.

Walking into Raised by Wolves‘ boutique bottle shop, flanked by stained glass windows and vintage street lanterns, is a departure from the surrounding high-end retail center‘s modern exteriors, which recently underwent a $600 million renovation. Inside the shop, amidst marble floors and murals of the French countryside, oak shelves boast craft liquors, cocktail books, and barware to inspire at-home mixology. But the real magic happens once you take a seat by the fireplace, which rotates to reveal the grand entrance into a 19th century-inspired secret bar.

Once inside, you’ll feel a world away from the San Diego sunshine you left moments ago. Housed within a giant steel-and-stained-glass garden gazebo, the 2,000 square-foot space is bedecked with nostalgic details designed to transport you to another time and place. “Escapism is the inspiration behind developing the Raised by Wolves space,” said co-founder Arsalun Tafazoli, who collaborated with designer Paul Basile to create an experience entirely unique from the typical cocktail venue.

The fiber optic ceiling emulates the twinkling night sky, cozy Victorian settees provide clusters of seating throughout the space, and old books and antique treasures line the shelves. Grab a velvet-covered stool and sidle up to the massive, marble-topped bar surrounding a bubbling fountain, where craft drinks inspired by vintage spirits and new age classics are reinvented by a team of learned mixologists. If you want to recreate your cocktail at home, they’ll even give you the recipe, with the ingredients all available at the attached bottle shop.

And though certain super-rare bottles in the shop can run as high as $18,000, and a Vintage Old-Fashioned from the reserve cocktail menu will set you back $790 (blame the ’60s Very Old Fitzgerald Kentucky Bourbon), there are fine spirits and deliciously inventive drinks well within the single-digit range. Our favorite? The $9 Painted Lady, made with vodka, lime, aloe liqueur, snap peas, and vermouth. Bottoms up!