Bringing His 'A' Game

By Brandon Hernández / Photo by Brevin Blach

For mixologist Shawn Barker, landing at the venerable Betrand at Mister A's high above Bankers Hill is a career pinnacle.

"I'm honored and excited," says the San Diego native, a 13-year food service industry veteran. "It's an opportunity to further develop my craft while working alongside some of the most respected individuals in the San Diego restaurant scene."

Barker has crafted a drink list for Mister A's featuring contemporary cocktails and archetypal classics, tapping his experience working in Las Vegas and L.A. with Wolfgang Puck, for whom he developed custom bar menus at Chinois, Spago and other signature eateries.

Barker's time with Puck was equal parts education and awe.

"Wolfgang's little touches of humor made seemingly complicated dishes easy to understand," he says. "Having such knowledgeable chefs at each location expanded my own palate, which helped me to taste the small nuances that also make good drinks into great ones."

Such flavor acuity will be crucial to meeting the discriminating tastes of Mister A's clientele. "Whether you like vodka, gin, whiskey, rum or tequila, we have diverse drinks from which to choose," Barker says. "The flavor profiles are wide-ranging, too-tart to sweet, herbal to spicy and everything in between."

His personal favorite? The Best of Times-a mix of organic citrus vodka, grapefruit juice, elderberry liqueur and Aperol, a scarlet Italian aperitif. "It blends a balanced sweetness up front with a smooth bitter finish, has several layers, and changes as it moves through your palate."

Other Barker specialties include the Skyline Manhattan, a softer riff on the traditional cocktail, and the New Orleans-inspired Sazerac, which he describes as "smoky and earthy on the palate, with anise on the nose. Great for sipping on a colder night out on the penthouse patio at Mister A's."

See you at the top.

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