New Waves

By David Nelson
Photo by James Norton

What do people who drink cocktails through straws and East Coast waves have in common? They both suck.
Just ask surfing bartender Nick Majersky. He was born in Oceanside and grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, where the waves are no bueno.

“You might wait months for good ones,” says Majersky, 34, who switched coasts in 1999, when he “just kind of fell into bartending” at the Embarcadero’s swanky (and now-defunct) Star of the Sea.

In 2005, Majersky moved over to Jack’s La Jolla (also defunct), the popular La Jolla cougar den once known for its Thursday night blowouts.

“I liked being around my peers, the music and the ‘turn and burn,’” he says, referring to bar guys’ term for high-RPM drink-slinging.

These days, Majersky is the bar manager and lead bartender at restaurateur Sean Shoja’s new Red Light District (billed as a “dining room and social house”) in the Gaslamp. He wrote the book on what to drink there.

“I figured if I could make a cocktail menu that would actually pair well with food, it would stand out,” Majersky says, his pride palpable. “I was given the autonomy to do what I want right off.”

For Majersky, creating savory drinks to complement chef Jason Maitland’s (formerly of Flavor Del Mar) cuisine is a pretty sweet deal. One of his favorite inventions, the Apple Cider Soda, is made with blanched fresh peaches that are roasted in brown sugar, cooked sous vide (vacuum-packed and simmered in a hot-water bath) with Bulleit Burbon, strained through cheesecloth and then mixed with vanilla bean-infused apple cider.

“I wanted to make one drink as handcrafted from beginning-to-end as I could, and everybody thinks this is my shining star,” says Majersky. “It’s got a full two ounces of booze. It’s not weak by any means.”

If the local surf’s as strong as the drinks he’s been making, for this mix-master, it’s been a welcome homecoming indeed.

Red Light District
409 F St., Gaslamp