Happy Hour, Small Bites Come to Stingaree

Even the Gaslamp Quarter’s hottest spot isn’t immune to the economic slump

It’s been four years since Stingaree hit downtown San Diego and claimed the title of “it” nightclub. That’s a long time in the spotlight. Relatively little has changed over the years, but even the coolest attractions are not immune to an economy in a tailspin. Hence, Stingaree has turned half of its first-floor restaurant into a lounge, tinkered with the menu and slashed prices.

“When we opened, the restaurant was aimed at a fine dining experience and people who were foodies and enjoyed fine wine,” said Stingaree restaurant manager Lauren Masseria. “Now, this part of the restaurant is more geared to people who are club-goers and are young and out drinking for the evening.”

Executive chef Antonio Friscia embraces the change. “I like to do the new small bites, and our restaurant still offers the big menu items, too,” he said. “But now we are connecting more with the people who are here for the nightlife. And, with the economy the way it is, it makes sense for people to come in during the weekdays where we’ve been slower.”

Tuesday through Friday, from 5-8 p.m. Stingaree now has a Happy Hour. You can get half priced signature cocktails and wine by the glass, $5 well drinks and $3 bottles of Heineken and Amstel Light.

Insider tip: If you are a gin drinker—or if you want to drink gin but think you can’t stand the taste—try some specialty martinis concocted by lead bartender Chris “Shotz” Schatzman. The “Tarragon and Back Again” mixes Bombay Sapphire gin and pomegranate liqueur. But for “stay classy” kicks, order the London Gentleman. It contains Bombay Sapphire, Galliano and Blue Curacao -- and is named after a cologne (no, not Sex Panther) briefly mentioned in Will Ferrell’s classic “Anchorman.”

Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com and a contributing editor to sandiego.com. His Web site (sandiegoDTOWN.com) is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.

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