Six years after opening Pacific Beach’s escapist tiki bar, the Grass Skirt, owner Matt Spencer is inviting guests into his newest creation, a nautical gin bar that’s now accepting online bookings and limited walk-ins on board its nightly speakeasy-style sophisticated booze cruise.
Spencer’s hospitality group, SDCM, which employs 600 people across its local restaurants and bars that include Ketter Exchange, Waverly, and Camino Riviera, has turned Good Time Poke into an otherworldly travel agency of sorts, which doubles as the kitchen for both bars, where you can enter left into the Grass Skirt or veer right through a secret door where fantastical octopus figures will pull you into the Captain’s Quarters.
Designed by Davis Ink, the 1,472-square-foot, 72-seat space is modeled after an old sailing ship, with one side of the bar lined with portholes behind which video screens depict atmosphere-setting scenes of stormy seas and sunsets out on the open ocean.
Beverage director Eric Johnson’s menu revolves around gin, featuring three gin and tonics on tap, including one made with yuzu tonic, and cocktails split into direct and refreshing categories, ranging from a classic dirty martini to the Ecto Cooler, a citrusy gin and sherry concoction tinged green by pandan leaves. Other spirits are represented in the tiki-ish Island Bird, made with tequila and Aperol, and the Gunwale Old Fashioned spiked with bourbon, amaretto, and coffee liqueur.
To snack on while sipping, executive chef Brian Redzikowski and chef de cuisine Bob Van Dorn’s shareable bites include goat cheese dip with crudite, halloumi fries, caviar-topped smoked salmon poppers filled with mascarpone mousse, and grilled prawns, along with an off-menu burger called the Captain’s Double-Double that tops two beef patties with feta, wild arugula, mint, parsley, and harissa aioli.