San Diego’s secret cocktail bar

Noble experiment


To reach Noble Experiment, at the back of Neighborhood, a restaurant in downtown San Diego, Calif., you push against the stack of beer kegs next to the ladies room. The false wall swings open to reveal a dimly lit room where a lovely woman stands. If you’ve texted her a reservation, she leads you past the next doorway to where a wall of gold-plated skulls rises to a ceiling accentuated by backlit Renaissance paintings. The Prohibition-inspired secrecy will have you glancing over your shoulder to check if you’re being followed. Now order a drink. A St. Cecilia, perhaps. Maybe a Boulevardier. The bar boasts a library of 700 recipes, but you can choose one from a calligraphy-penned list of suggestions. Or let the bartender choose for you. If manager Anthony Schmidt is manning the bar, don’t call him a mixologist. “A mixologist serves drinks,” Schmidt might tell you. “A bartender serves people.” (777 G St.; text a reservation to 619-888-4713 or send an email to


Anthony Schmidt's Godfather

252 Photo by Jared Sych.

1. Sweeten two ounces of Buffalo Trace bourbon with half an ounce of Amaretto.

2. Add two to three dashes of Angostura bitters.

3. Pour over a hand-carved ball of ice and drop in an orange peel.