Cerveza with a Smile

Say hola to Vanessa Huerta, bartender extraordinaire at P.B.'s zesty new restaurant and grill, Cerveza Jack's. Raised in NorCal, Huerta moved to San Diego eight years ago and has since been mixing downtown denizens' drinks at hot spots including FLUXX, Moonshine Flats and Hard Rock Hotel San Diego.

Today, Huerta finds herself behind this impossible-to-miss bar (on the corner of Garnet Avenue and Everts Street) that recently replaced Pacific Beach's long-standing Fred's Mexican Cafe. Between pours, she takes a break to discuss machetes, Emma Stone and scrapbooking.

PacificSD: How did you get into bartending?
VANESSA HUERTA: I started working in the industry as a server to pay the bills when I was in cosmetology school at Paul Mitchell downtown. I got a job at Taste & Thirst cocktailing, and they offered to train me once I had a taste of the people and being behind the bar. I was hooked and haven't looked back since. Bartending also allowed me to indulge in my other passion, which is music.

How would you describe the vibe at Cerveza Jack's?
It has that sunshine, rustic, backyard-BBQ, bring-your-puppy- to-the-patio and wow-your-taste- buds-with-the-menu vibe.

What distinguishes the place from other bars in P.B.?
Cerveza Jack's has a unique new spin on Mexican food, with several items that you don't typically find in Mexican restaurants, such as our machetes. We also have specialty drinks that come in little buckets and are garnished with souvenirs. Our tequila exchange runs all day, every day and operates in a similar fashion to the stock market - which basically means that the prices will fluctuate depending on who's drinking what.

What drinks do you suggest first-time visitors to try?
Being a bourbon lover, I recommend the Country Cooler. It is a bucket drink made with Bulleit Rye, barrel-aged bitters, lime and pineapple soda, and garnished with two oversized straws and a rubber ducky. When I'm feeling tequila, I grab one of our margaritas. The cucumber watermelon is refreshing and my favorite.

What are a couple of your favorite entre?es?
I would definitely suggest ordering the fajita machete, which is a long, quesadilla-style entre?e that has a delicious handmade tortilla that we make in-house. We also recently added a jalapen?o shrimp popper plate to the menu that I recommend.

What are some of your other favorite bars around town?
I'm a sucker for a jukebox and a traditional whiskey sour, so you can usually catch me at El Dorado or Pop's Liquor Cabinet downtown.

What motto do you live by?
I have the words "Give" and "Take" tattooed on my wrists. It symbolizes balance. It's my way of life and something I practice every day.

Who's your biggest celebrity crush?
Emma Stone - she's beautiful, talented and has a sexy sense of humor.

What's something most people don't know about you?
I've been journaling-slash-scrapbooking my life for the last 16 years. I think my 2000 journal has a black and white cat on the front, fully equipped with a chrome lock and key. Classic.

Got any hidden talents?
Besides being a pretty face behind the bar that completely crushes it? Ha! Just kidding... kinda. I'm a stylist who loves to help you fall in love with yourself and lives to keep you beautiful. My crafts go hand in hand.

Feel (and maybe even look) good with Huerta's help at Cerveza Jack's Tuesdays through Fridays from 3 p.m. 'til 1:30 a.m., and weekends beginning at noon.

Cerveza Jack's
1165 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach
858.999.0158
cervezajacks.com

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