I was recently drawn to a cocktail bar in San Diego, California called Polite Provisions, who call themselves ‘Manufacturers of Local Tonics, Elixirs and Cures’.
Alcohol certainly has a long history of therapeutic or medicinal function, to varying degrees. In the Middle Ages, drinking distilled spirits flavored with juniper berries was thought to protect people from the mysterious and deadly plagues and was widely consumed as a form of medicine; even the first recorded distilled spirit from grain was created by a Professor of Medicine. In the early 1800’s, many remedies were based on natural and herbal elements. For example, Swamp Roots supposedly improved ailments with the kidneys and Juniper helped with PMS symptoms. But perhaps the most familiar names from that era include Luden’s cough drops which relieved swelling or inflammation and Angostura Bitters which were marketed as a remedy for an upset stomach. Interesting.
Polite Provisions uses old fashioned ingredients like Rye Whiskey, bitters and lots of herbs and fresh fruits. Their coffee cocktail (with no coffee) caught my eye; it’s made with Cognac, Sherry, Cointreau and bitters with notes of earthy caramel and baked walnut.
The look and feel of this place is very pre-Prohibition; marble bar, tiled floor, old fashioned lamps… Happy Hour is 11am-6pm (that’s a long hour!) and will get you $4 appetizers and $5 cocktails. Any food items you order come from the restaurant next door called Soda & Swine by the same owners, and they bring your food right in. Super cute patio over there actually (shown at the bottom).