Mixology 619: Balboa Constrictor

In this episode of Mixology 619, the bar manager of BANKERS HILL BAR + Restaurant, Kris Rizzato, shows us how to utilize a housemade grapefruit/lemon peel syrup and a chili liqueur to create a spicy and citrus-flavored cocktail.

Watch as Kris Rizzato makes the Balboa Constrictor.

Did you grow up in San Diego?

No, I didn’t. I moved to San Diego just over a year ago from Sonoma County. I was born just south of San Francisco and lived in a few different places in the Bay Area, but I’d have to say that Sonoma County is my home.

How did you get into bartending?

Actually, I hassled my general manager at a restaurant that I was working at for weeks and weeks before I turned 21. At the end of a shift, when I was doing paperwork in the office, I would ask over and over again when I was going to start training to work behind the bar. Then the schedule came out for the week of my birthday, and I had a training shift. I’ve been behind the bar ever since.

How long have you been working at BANKERS HILL BAR + Restaurant?

I have been bartending at BANKERS HILL BAR + Restaurant for a little over six months now.

What kind of experience can someone get at BANKERS BAR + Restaurant?

You can always expect a very high-quality meal with the most delicious ingredients that we can get our hands on. Guests can relax with a date, catch a football game, stop in for happy hour or bring in the family. We cater to all sorts of different guests. We have a dish and cocktail that fits each and every guest’s needs.

What’s your favorite cocktail?

I like so many different ingredients and spirits that I really don’t have a favorite. There are thousands of different drinks out there to try. I’ve been behind a bar for almost 10 years now, and I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface as to what’s out there. I could never claim just one as my favorite. It depends on the weather, the temperature, where I am, what mood I’m in, and so many other variables will lead me to my choice at that particular moment.

What’s your favorite cocktail to make?

This is another hard question to answer. My favorite drink to make depends on the guest on the other side of the bar. I usually ask some questions to figure out what flavor profiles the guest is looking for, whether they want it to be more spirituous or refreshing; and I’ll usually ask if there is anything they absolutely don’t like. Based on the way they answer those questions, it leads me to a drink in the rolodex of my mind that would be perfect for them. So, my favorite drink to make is the one that the guest will enjoy the most.

When you’re not mixing drinks, what are you doing on your spare time?

I try to make the most out of my time living in beautiful San Diego. I usually check out the many restaurants I haven’t been to yet, try to see the sights and leave time to smell the flowers. I have a number of different hobbies that keep me busy, like being an extremely amateur disc golfer. I also like to ride my beach cruiser to the waves and dive in. Plus, I like to experiment with new syrups, shrubs and spirits at my home bar setup. It never has a last call.

Balboa Constrictor

Cost: $12

  • 1 oz. Ancho Reyes Chili liqueur
  • ¾ oz. white rum
  • ¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon
  • ½ oz. grapefruit olio (a house-made grapefruit/lemon peel syrup)
  • 6-8 mint leaves

Serve in a bucket glass on the rocks with a lemon wheel mint spear.

What’s the origin of the Balboa Constrictor?

I wanted to come up with a refreshing yet tropical Ancho Reyes-based cocktail. I started messing with some different spirits, and I landed on the current recipe rather quickly. Some things are just meant to be...

How would you describe the taste to someone who hasn’t had this before?

You can taste refreshing citrus and mint with some tangy notes from the maraschino liqueur, followed by a slow heat from the Ancho Chile and a slight bitterness from the grapefruit peel that stays with you. It almost constricts your tongue until your next sip.

What would be the key component in this drink?

The key components would be the Ancho Reyes and the grapefruit olio. The slow heat from the Ancho peppers blend well with the slight bitterness from the grapefruit peels.

The spicy kick comes from the chili liqueur, any reason you chose Ancho Reyes Chili liqueur?

I chose the Ancho Reyes liqueur because it’s just so versatile. You can throw so many different flavors at it and it just molds to them.

What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?

Most guests are surprised by how much heat the chili liqueur gives this drink and how the grapefruit and maraschino balance each other out with the help of the citrus and mint. They’re pleasantly surprised.

The grapefruit olio is a house-made syrup. What’s the process of making it?

We take fresh grapefruit and lemon peels and muddle them with sugar and wait for the delicious oils to be extracted from the peels by the sugar. It takes a little while, but the end result is worth it.

Do you have any other housemade syrups?

Yes, we have a lot of syrups and ingredients that we make in-house. Here is a list of the current ones we make at BANKERS HILL:

  • Watermelon-tarragon shrub
  • Jalapeno-infused tequila
  • Celery syrup
  • Pineapple gum syrup
  • Coconut cream
  • Grapefruit olio sacchrum
  • Green tea-infused amaro
  • Fig-infused whiskey
  • Ginger syrup
  • Cane syrup
  • Black walnut whip
  • Orange curacao

In the video, you referenced a Balboa Constrictor batch. What was the thought process of combining a few of the ingredients together?

We’re always finding ways to cut down the amount of time it takes to make one cocktail. One way is by batching spirits together in the same recipe that the cocktail calls for. If we can reach for one bottle instead of three every time we make a drink, then we can serve it to the guest that much faster. We want to be able to craft a five-ingredient cocktail with a garnish just as fast as any beach bar can make you a margarita.

What are some good dishes to pair this drink with?

The great thing about this drink is that it has so many layers that could match up to different dishes easily. But if you paired this drink with the BBQ Braised Pork tacos, you might black out from flavor overload.

Can we expect any new cocktails in the future?

Absolutely! We will always have a steady flow of new drinks to try each visit. There is something for everyone on our cocktail and drink menus. As seasonal ingredients come and go, so do the drinks that go with them.


2202 4th Avenue, Bankers Hill.

(619) 231-0222 or

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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 or @thenardcast for everything music, food, beer and television. You can also follow him on Instagram at @nardvillain or @boozeandgrubsd

Source: DiscoverSD