Looking like a cross between Donovan Frankenreiter and one of the “droogs” from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (especially when he’s wearing all white), JJ Nesbitt is an imposing fixture behind the bar at Pacific Beach’s Duck Dive, an under-the-boardwalk-themed restaurant/bar whose farm-to-table menu and craft cocktail program were regarded by doubters as a shot in the dark for a place at the beach.
But with spicy mahogany chili honey lime- sauced duck wings (double-fried in duck fat) on the menu, and cocktails utilizing fresh produce from the Pacific Beach Farmer’s Market coming across the bar, Nesbitt says Duck Dive doubters have become touters.
PacificSD: Duck Dive brought a bona fide craft cocktail program to Pacific Beach. How has that been going?
Nesbitt: Excellent. Our clientele has responded tremendously, and we have added a new element to the beach.
You get the mixin’s right here in PB, right?
Every Tuesday, Chef Ryan and I head over to the Pacific Beach Farmer’s Market with the same goal, to create an entrée and cocktail using locally sourced and grown produce.
What are some of the drinks you’ve made?
Beets and gin. Carrots and bourbon. Asian pears and vodka. Tangerines and tequila. Apricots and Aperol. Tea and whiskey. I just go mad-scientist with the juicer, blender and different ingredients.
A mad scientist with lots of ink. Do you have a favorite tattoo?
My chest piece [a large bald eagle holding an American shield]. It’s for my time in the Marine Corps and for my grandfather.
Making drinks is serious business. What’s something funny that happened while you were doing it?
Well, just this past Sunday I witnessed a couple sitting at the bar, eating. The guy ate a ball of wasabi, thinking it was guacamole. Then he was trying to feed his girlfriend like a baby, airplane-ing chicken wings to her mouth that she wanted
nothing to do with. Just think about the drunk David-Hasselhoff-eating-a-cheeseburger video.
4650 Mission Blvd., Pacific Beach
858.273.DUCK (3825), theduckdive.com