Known around San Diego for his impressive experience at area bars including Seven Grand, Rare Form, and Fairweather, bartender/musician Gareth Moore is a household name in the cocktail world.
Currently at Born & Raised, The Observatory, working on opening a distillery and restaurant in Barrio Logan, and heading up the cocktail program at Lola 55, Moore is one busy man.
PACIFIC caught up with the barman between gigs to find out more about his list at Lola 55, his favorite cocktail and menu pairings, and his current take on the best drinking music.
PACIFIC: How did you get into bartending?
GARETH MOORE: Like many college students, I was running food and bar backing as an easy way to make money, and I kept up with it as I was finishing school. As my band (The Young Wild) took off, bartending was the only way to ensure I wasn’t blowing all the money I made. It’s also a fluid job, and people are always looking for someone good behind the bar. So it kept me paying rent and the phone turned on. It’s a cool art I enjoy, and I appreciate all things alcohol driven — except cars.
How is the drink list at Lola 55 different from your average cocktail menu?
We are trying to use ingredients the kitchen uses. For instance, we use agua fresca, and more savory and spicy cinnamon, and it’s allowing the cocktails to stand out. We’re trying to not overly attack your palate with alcohol, but highlight the food with the drink.
How does agua fresca work with the cocktails?
As (chef Drew Bent) invents new agua frescas we incorporate them into the cocktail program.
We have our horchata we will (incorporate) into cocktails, and we rotate flavors in.
The cocktails are nicely balanced and not heavy-handed. What’s the key to making a well-rounded cocktail?
Know your flavors. For instance, there are certain sugars that are stronger than others, like demerara, it has more bang for the buck. Throw ideas at a wall, even if you get it right the first time, you can make it better the second time. It’s about trial and error with a good foundation.
Favorite bar ingredient to work with?
Whisky is my end all be all. Give me a bourbon and I will run in any direction you want me to.
Give us a couple of Lola 55 cocktail and food pairings.
The Holy Pinata with Cauliflower Taco. The pineapple and banana adds unique sweetness and horchata orgeat adds savory and spice which goes with the savoriness of the cauliflower. The Lola and the house margarita and the classic fish taco. I don’t care what you say, it reminds me of surf trips into deep Baja. The carnitas taco with tomatillo and crispy carnitas that takes three days to make along with the sweet smoky dryness of The Spanish Bell.
The carnitas and the Spanish Bell.
When you aren’t behind the bar, what are you up to?
As of late, I haven’t not been behind the bar. Music. I don’t get to travel as much as I used to, I try to get back to Charleston, Nashville, Boise, Toronto. I like to enjoy, eat and drink.
Lola 55, 1290 F St., East Village, 619.542.9155, lola55catering.com