May 11 2011 05:43 PM

Reporting from the front lines of San Diego's emerging craft-cocktail scene

flamingorange
Dustin Haarstad
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Not much of scuzzy Scolari's Office is left at The Office Bar (3936 30th St., North Park), but just below the revamped, shiny surface is a touch of the good-ol' smut.

Tuesday night, May 3, marked the launch of Blind Tiger Cocktail Co.'s new weekly craft-cocktail night, Break Room @ The Office, and never has the bar appeared to be further from its punk-rock roots. Dressed in the obligatory suspenders and vests that have become synonymous with the invocation of Prohibition-era drinks and the contemporary craft-cocktail resurgence, Blind Tiger founders Dustin Haarstad and Jen Queen were busily bartending as patrons flipped through file-folder menus and live jazz filled the room.

The cocktail list was made to mimic a credit memo and it contained classy-sounding concoctions like the “CEO's Sex Scandal” (vodka, watermelon ginger reduction, fresh watermelon, citrus and soda) and “Office Romance on the Rocks” (scotch, honey lavender syrup, citrus and champagne). I went with the Office Space reference and ordered the $8 “T.P.S.

Report” (gin, strawberries, fresh tarragon, citrus with a chartreuse rinse), a refreshing summery drink that was more berries than dragon's wart, but good and girly nonetheless.

“We get most of our ingredients from the farmers market,” said Queen, who bartends at Searsucker when she's not setting up pop-up speakeasies with Haarstad. “We make all our own reductions and try to use as many local and sustainable ingredients as we can.”

When I ordered another cocktail, I went with the more masculine “The Boss” (Casa Noble Anejo, Carpano Antica, chipotle mocha tincture topped with a mezcal-spritzed flamed orange). Haarstad, who works at URBN, mixed the $10 drink with flair, squeezing the orange, lighting a match and turning the peel into a miniature flamethrower.

“Isn't it everything you'd imagine about a boss?” Queen asked as I slowly sipped the potent beverage. “Smoky, strong, and it has that coffee flavor.”

I couldn't have described it better. I resisted the urge to order another and reached for my purse, only to discover a big black glob of chewed gum that had left its home under the bar and ended up on my thigh.

A tad disturbed, I paid my tab and headed toward the door. Haarstad caught up with me on the sidewalk outside.

“You know,” Haarstad said, “This thing all started because we really just wanted to be able to get a good craft cocktail in our own neighborhood.”

A young man lingering outside The Office interrupted Haarstad's noble speech by puking in a planter nearby.

“Lovely,” he said. “I know I didn't serve that guy.”


Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28