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Loma Portal’s Royale keeps it simple

Plus You & Yours introduces Old Tom and Tijuana’s Cereus highlights bartender talent


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I’m always asking bartenders where they like to go for a cocktail. Lion’s Share always tops the list, but a year or so ago, I started hearing another name: Royale. For months I’ve been meaning to check it out and finally got the chance the other night.

It’s totally deserving of all the praise.

Located in the spot formerly occupied by Sessions Public, Royale’s got a chill diner vibe—it’s known for its hamburgers. The cocktail menu is small, but has something for everyone (and makes a bit of a sly jab at too-complicated cocktail menus). There’s a Bourbon Cocktail, a Rye Cocktail, a Gin Cocktail, a Vodka Cocktail—you get the idea. Each cocktail is approachable and plays up its featured spirit perfectly. The Bourbon Cocktail includes Amaro Nonino (a magical Italian digestif with chocolate and orange notes) and Giffard’s delicious apricot liqueur. I loved the Gin Cocktail, which includes green chili liqueur, a house-made pineapple shrub, lime, and a touch of salt. This will be my new go-to spot when I’m in the OB / Point Loma / Loma Portal area. Give it a try. (And cheers to our bartender Adam, who recently moved to San Diego from Austin.)

 

This week, You & Yours Distilling Co. added Old Tom to its lineup of gins. This richer, slighter sweeter gin variation has a fascinating history. Tales of the Cocktail describes it as “the go-to spirit of the titans of classic mixology” and rumor is it got its name after an elderly Tom cat fell into a vat of gin.

Old Tom is You & Yours founder Laura Johnson’s favorite style of gin. Johnson’s version is distilled with botanicals—juniper, lemon, rose hips, cinnamon and clove, among them (no cats)—and then rested in a red-blend wine barrel from Paso Robles for six months. Johnson describes the gin as “cereal-like and naturally sweet with notes of honey and dried fruit.”

It’s a small-batch release, so grab a bottle soon from You & Yours’ tasting room (1495 G Street in East Village). Once you’ve got one, tasting room manager April Kirby recommends using it to make a Martinez, a gin variation of a Perfect Manhattan:

 

1.5 You & Yours Old Tom Gin
.75 Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
.75 Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
Dash of Angostura bitters
Dash of orange bitters

Stir ingredients over ice and stain into a coupe glass. Express and garnish with an orange peel.

***

Cereus Bar in Tijuana is wrapping up its series of bartender takeovers on Friday, April 11, when, starting at 6 p.m., you’ll find Irving Gonzalez (who created the menu for the lovely new indoor/outdoor bar) and Nortico’s Fernando Villalobos behind the stick. The takeovers, which kicked off March 21, highlighted Tijuana’s—and the border region’s—growing bartender talent and included Oryx Capital’s Miguel Cabada, 52 KOOL’s Edgar Orduño, Cereus’ Elzbeth Gomez and Sofia Zuniga, Nortico’s Kevin Maldonado, and Cristian Teran from Cranky Mixology.

Gonzalez said he launched the series to help introduce folks to the city’s cocktail scene. The events were so popular, he plans to put together another month of takeovers at Cereus, culminating in a cocktail competition. Keep an eye on Cereus’ Facebook page, and this blog, for future dates.

 

Got a suggestion for a future post? Email me.

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