The “Hunter S. Thompson” at Lion’s Share
At the spry young age of 33, I was referred to as “Grandpa” by many of my colleagues in the San Diego bar industry. By having helped stoke the flames of the cocktail movement that was beginning to burn in our city, it would be fair to say that it aged me. “Grandpa Ward” is who I became, but it was a name not derived by age or appearance, but rather one rooted in respect.
Or, at least that is what I believed.
It has been some time since I’ve heard that name, Grandpa, having left San Diego for a few years to live in New York. Having now returned, it’s a name that no longer rings out when I walk into a bar. These days, I pull up bar stools to sit and watch as the San Diego cocktail scene goes on without me.
After some wise, grandpa-like reflection, I have decided to make a chronicle of the cocktail movement in this, America’s Finest City. Draw up an anatomy of this cocktail scene.
I found the act of re-entry into this cocktail carnival more dizzying than I had anticipated so I turned to one of the few people I love and trust for advice, Michele Willard. Michele is the Beverage Director for the URBN Restaurant Group (URBN, Basic) and the reason I returned to this humble harbor town. After having a long distance relationship for some time, I grew tired of not being here, home. Now that I’ve returned, I asked Michele what her favorite cocktail in San Diego currently was. Without hesitation she responded, “It is still the ‘Hunter S. Thompson’ at Lion’s Share.”
The name brought a smile to my face and a steadiness to the ground. The Lion’s Share (629 Kettner Blvd.) had always been a place where the name “Grandpa” rang out upon my arrival, and so we called an Uber and headed that way. The Lion’s Share seemed a perfect place to start this new chronicle.
As for the tart and boozy “Hunter S. Thompson” cocktail, I had been present during its inception and even helped give it it’s name. I’m happy to report that it’s just as good as I remembered it.
Seeing as how we are currently in the throes of a Tiki revival, it is good to find a cocktail that takes elements easily associated with “Tiki” (fruit syrups, Rum, pineapple) and have them work together to create something that is more than fluff. It has grit and character from the mezcal and pineapple rum, and the raspberry syrup not only lends the concoction a beautiful vibrant color, but also a coating mouth-feel that helps to balance the the astringent citrus. And whereas a lot of bartenders add bitters to a cocktail because they were told to do so years ago, the old fashioned aromatic bitters here really do bridge the gap between the ingredients.
The “Hunter S. Thompson”
as found at The Lion’s Share
1 oz. of Mezcal
• 1 oz. of Pineapple infused Rum
• 1 oz. of Lime
• 1/2 oz. of Raspberry Syrup
• 1/2 oz. of Agave Nectar
• 2 dashes of Fee Brothers brand Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters
Combine all ingredients into a mixing tin filled with ice. Shake and strain into a double rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a candied pineapple.