If you're looking for a dirty chai drink, inspired by an Old Fashioned, then this cocktail is for you. The Dirty Girl has a hint of coffee liqueur with a rich homemade spiced chai syrup and bourbon. It's a must-try cocktail at the new upscale rooftop bar, The Nolen.
Watch as the lead bartender of The Nolen, Robert Yumul, makes the Dirty Girl.
Did you grow up in San Diego?
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in L.A. County. I've been down here in San Diego for just about 10 years and have no plans of going anywhere else. I consider myself a San Diegan, for sure.
How did you get into bartending?
Just dumb luck at first. I was in my last year at UCSD, and I managed to get this poolside bar gig at the Handlery Hotel and Resort. I finished up the quarter at UCSD and realized I didn't want to use my Econ degree.
What kind of experience can someone get at The Nolen?
You take the idea of a speakeasy and its secrecy and exclusive nature and, instead of putting it down in a stuffy basement, you place it 14 floors up with sweeping views. Since it's San Diego, it's still casual in style, but it's a great urban escape right in the heart of downtown. All I had to do with my cocktail list was to compliment our city and the space.
What's your favorite cocktail to make?
It's a classic called a "cocktail de la louisiane." Hassan Mahmoud of the Lion's Share and Coin-op made me my first one years ago, and it's still my go-to cocktail when showing customers the finer things in life. It's a Creole-style Old Fashioned: rye whiskey, brandy, Benedictine, Peychaud's bitters and absinthe.
When you're not mixing drinks, what are you doing in your spare time?
With the busy schedule of opening the Nolen, sleeping or vegging with my beautiful girlfriend. When the weather warms up again, I'll be back surfing on my longboard and practicing yoga.
The Dirty Girl
- 1 oz. Henry McKenna Bourbon
- .5 oz. Rittenhouse Rye
- .5 oz. St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur
- .5 oz. spiced chai syrup
- 5-6 dashes orange bitters
- Build in a rocks glass. Add ice and stir for 10-15 seconds.
- Garnish: lemon peel
What's the origin of the Dirty Girl?
When I was the GM/bar manager at Brooklyn Girl Eatery, I frequented the Meshuggah Shack, an awesome, sacrilegious and straight-up nuts coffee shop. They had a dirty chai beverage on their menu called the Dirty Girl. I wanted to take the flavors of a dirty chai drink and make something boozy and sip worthy.
How would you describe the taste to someone who hasn't had this before?
It's an Old Fashioned meets a dirty chai latte.
What would be the key component in this drink?
I wouldn't say there is one key component. It's the interplay of the coffee liqueur and the chai with the whiskeys.
What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?
I usually get a "Whoa!" or something monosyllabic or single-worded. Many people order it from name alone and are stunned they are able to enjoy such a booze-forward drink.
What's the recipe for the spiced chai syrup?
We put together about eight ounces of chai tea with four cups of water and four cups of sugar. We let that steep for about 15-20 minutes, strain and let it cool.
Are there any other house-made syrups on the menu?
We make our own ginger syrup and grenadine.
Could you substitute the bourbon with a rye whiskey or scotch?
Scotch could be an interesting substitution. Something not peaty could play real well with the coffee flavors. Now that I think about it, I'd love to try this with some apple brandy.
453 Sixth Ave., downtown.
(619) 237-0678 or thenolenrooftop.com
Jarnard Sutton is a multimedia producer for DiscoverSD and San Diego Union-Tribune. He loves providing readers with updates on music and events happening in San Diego. You can follow Jarnard on Twitter at @jarnard for everything music, food, beer and television. You can also follow him on Instagram at @nardvillain