Google "Trevor Easter" and you'll turn up a 2012 San Francisco Chronicle piece, written when Easter was bar manager at respected Bay Area spot Heaven's Dog. In it, the Mt. Helix native gives a shout-out to San Diego in response to, "What is your favorite bar snack?" The house-pickled green beans at Hillcrest's Alibi, he said. Asked about that recently, Easter, the new general manager at Noble Experiment, describes how much he enjoyed putting those green beans in Bud Light.
Easter's got that mix of unpretentiousness and smarts that's sometimes lacking in the craft-cocktail world. He tells the story of being in London and using Burrough's Reserve, a rare cask-aged gin by Beefeater, to make an Improved Gin Cocktail (like an Old Fashioned, but with gin). Beefeater's master distiller asked Easter what he was doing. "The room went silent," Easter laughs.
There's a bottle of Burrough's on the shelf at Noble Experiment: "I say make cocktails with it," he says.
Easter left San Diego for San Francisco six years ago to hone his skills at bars like Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch. He returned home to helm Noble Experiment after Anthony Schmidt, who helped open the bar five years ago, left to head up Rare Form, a new spot near Petco Park that, like Noble, is part of the Consortium Holdings family, which includes craft-cocktail all-stars like Ironside and Craft & Commerce.
Easter's new menu features nine cocktails, plus off-menu items like the Pimm's Rangoon, with a house-made Pimm's. Menu highlights include The Jalisco Stroll, a twist on a Negroni made with tequila, dry vermouth, Campari and salt ("a great flavor modifier," Easter says of that pinch of salt), and the Mechanical Bull, a take on a whiskey sour made with bourbon, Fernet Branca, lime and fresh ginger.
One of my favorites was The Ivy League (Beefeater gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth and Cointreau, with an absinthe rinse). Easter tapped his bar staff for help with the new menu, and this one was created by Jesse Ross, who also happens to be a former CityBeat intern.
Bartenders tend to be nomadic. Easter worked at more than a half-dozen spots in San Francisco—"chasing mentors," as he puts it—before returning to San Diego. But he plans to stay put at Noble Experiment for awhile (he and his girlfriend, Lindsay Nader, are co-owners of Juice, a juice bar located a block away).
"This is where you can really do something cool," he says.
In May, I wrote about Nate Howell's fantastic regional cocktail menu at JSix. Unfortunately, Howell's leaving to rep craft spirits for Young's Market Company. As a farewell, he's rolled out a fab new menu that includes this rich take on an Old Fashioned.
This is the End
2 ounces Woodford Reserve
1/8 ounce brown sugar syrup
2 dashes of chocolate bitters
2 dashes angostura bitters
Pinch of salt
Combine all and stir. Strain over fresh ice into large rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.