Arnold Schwarzenegger once said something to the effect of going places where the crowds weren't. That's always been my approach as I love happy hour but abhor going out at night, or have no problem finding a quiet spot a couple blocks from con to enjoy some libations and grub. People tend to pool where others go equaling huge lines and crowds in the Gaslamp directly across from the convention center. Go a few blocks east or north and you'll find plenty of places ready to serve you while taking your cash. Last year the Top of the Hyatt was under renovations and reopened this year as a swanky lounge with still beautiful views and famous quotes on the windows.
Near the small Chinatown establishments you had Whiskey House, a solid joint with nighttime ambiance, a wall of booze and lots of food options. Up a few blocks was Taste & Thirst, a very bar-y bar that was home to Diamond's Alien Lounge with props, posters and a backdrop. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund party once again took place at the lovely Westgate Hotel with themed dranks and swag bags. Speaking of swag bags, we Uber'd north near the university to Coin-Op, a barcade hosting new app Pure Fandom's launch party with 80's movie posters on the walls, tator tots on the menu and plenty of cabinets lining the walls of standard fare like X-Men and Street Fighter. Swag included a new album from Vince DiCola, the incomparable electronic composer of Transformers: The Movie and Rocky IV. All the celebrating and imbibing caused me to take a 4 week break on drinking after but it was fun while it lasted.
Oh yeah, and don't ever take a pedicab in downtown San Diego, it's a total rip off.