At home with mixologist Lucien Conner

Lucien Conner, the general manager of Puesto restaurant. (Eduardo Contreras / Union-Tribune)
(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A Top Chef’s home kitchen, a master mixologist’s home bar, a stylist-to-the-stars’ home closet, a celebrated interior designer’s home décor and a prominent architect’s, well, home, beg the question -how do professional San Diegans bring their work home? Open their doors and see.

Lucien Conner co-founded the boutique beverage business Snake Oil Cocktail Co., known for its craft and signature drinks. But when it comes to mixing it up at home, he prefers the simple things in life - bar none.

Conner, who sold his share of the business in 2012, knows his way around a bar for sure, but at home in Bonita, he’ll take a michelada over a chichi cocktail any day.

“It’s my go-to drink,” the 34-year-old Houston native says. “It’s perfect for those San Diego nights when you just want to relax.”

Conner’s now the chief of operations for the growing Puesto empire, which recently added Irvine to its roster of wildly popular Mexican restaurants in La Jolla and downtown San Diego. The Puesto staff call him “jefe,” and when he’s not bossing people around at work, he’s enjoying time with his young family - making Manhattans for his wife, Sarah, or horsing around with his 1-year-old son, Trace.

One of his favorite places in their South County home is the bar, recently completed as part of an ongoing renovation of the 1970s-era house they purchased in 2015. It’s a mix of contemporary and mid-century design - dark walnut cabinetry topped with black leather-finish granite.

Get fresh

Conner’s 2,200-square-foot home sits on the side of a hill with an expansive yard that boasts orange, lemon and avocado trees. Then there are grapevines, basil plants and an out-of-control rosemary bush. That means his homemade cocktails are guaranteed to have the freshest of ingredients.

Put some muscle into it

Because juices figure prominently in many of Conner’s creations, one of his most treasured bar gadgets is a silver and orange juicer he bought at a market in Tijuana. “It’s definitely a must-have,” he says of the sturdy manual-lever juicer. It’s also available locally at Northgate Markets.

Manual juicer, $30-$40, Northgate González Markets, eight San Diego locations,

Always in stock

It’s not a Lucien Conner bar without Clamato. “We always have it in stock,” he says. It’s a necessary ingredient for his micheladas. “At the restaurant, we make everything from scratch, and I love that michelada. But I also love the kind I grew up with in Texas: lime juice, Clamato, your choice of hot sauce - I like Tabasco - Jugo Maggi (seasoning sauce), Worcestershire.”

Clamato, $3.99 for a 32-ounce bottle, Gelson’s Market in Del Mar and Pacific Beach,

That’s the spirit

“The most interesting thing about mezcal for me is there’s a huge, huge range of flavor profiles,” Conner says. “You can have one that’s citrus- and smoke- and pepper-driven, and then you can have one that tastes like crazy tropical fruit where the nose is like Fruity Pebbles.” His favorite right now? The whole lineup by El Jolgorio from Oaxaca, Mexico, where his family owns land.

El Jolgorio Mezcal, from $85.99, Old Town Wine and Spirits, 2304 San Diego Ave., Old Town,


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