Mixology 619: Prawn Star

Most people don’t need a specific time during the day to enjoy a classic Bloody Mary, which generally contains vodka, tomato juice and a combination of veggies. The folks over at Cafe 21, located in both the Gaslamp and University Heights, have created their own version of the Bloody Mary that they’ve dubbed, “Bloody Meals.”

In this edition of Mixology 619, bar manager Zane Mandt introduces us to the Prawn Star, a Bloody Meal with house red mix, a giant jumbo prawn and garnished with a ton of veggies.

Watch as Zane makes this decadent cocktail, the Prawn Star.

Did you grow up in San Diego?

I moved to San Diego eight years ago, and although I wasn’t raised in SD, I can say I’ve done a fair amount of growing up here. I hail from the great state of Washington and was raised in a smaller town outside of Seattle called Tacoma.

How did you get into bartending?

Bartending became a modality of self expression for me. I’m a very mathematical mind. I guess the creative side just needed a place to manifest. And I like to drink but if I’m going to intake all those calories I want it to be deliciously worth it.

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

Spare time... Now isn’t that a concept? I’m not sure if any of us have spare time. When I sneak away from my second home at the restaurant, I love to climb. I aim for about five hours a week. Plus, we have this thing called Adventure Mondays that always starts with an early morning group text, breakfast at someone’s house and then we all jump on our bikes. We generally ride to a beach town where the endless summer gifts our group with lots of laughs, great foods and yummy drinks.

Prawn Star

Price: $15

  • 6 oz. house red mix
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • Celery
  • Bell pepper
  • Lemon & lime
  • Mushroom
  • Basil
  • 1 jumbo prawn, poached
  • Garlic, lemon, bay leaves, whole mustard seeds

What’s the origin of the Prawn Star?

The Prawn Star was born from an idea that Chef Leyla brought up one day sitting in a bar meeting about incorporating the beauty of veggies with the classic standard. The prawn was originally introduced as a joke, but quickly gained momentum and traction.

Why is it known as the “Bloody Meal?”

Cafe 21 currently offers three “Bloody Meals.” They are designed to be an appetizer. Each is crafted where the accompaniments compliment the beverage flavors. Dip and sip.

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

The Prawn Star is possibly the most approachable because it uses the traditional red mix. It will have the familiarity of a classic Bloody Mary. The prawn is just the icing on the cake. The drink does sort of have an exaggerated shrimp cocktail feel.

What would be the key component in this drink?

The key to this drink is of course, the hangover cure. It’s delicious, provides basic nutrition and provides a whole host of entertainment value while awaiting your long lost best friend, the short rib omelet.

Out of all things, why a prawn?

Prawns are delicious. We could have chosen a slider or a sirloin steak or a whole deep fried chicken with tater tot skewers, but that’s not really our style.

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

The Prawn Star is usually accosted by a slew of photographers before it even heads to the table. It’s an incredible drink; unique and very visually enticing. It generates quite the intrigue from onlookers. And it’s delicious so once it’s set down, it’s all over from there.

Do you have other Bloody Marys on the menu?

Our Classic Mary is a nice and easy red mix with pickled veggies and a huge slice of crispy prosciutto. In the Bloody Meal department, we carry two other mixes: a yellow heirloom tomato mix and a green heirloom/tomatillo mix. Both are made from local fresh ingredients and carry that rich flavor with them. They differ greatly from the canned, manufactured red tomato juice to which most people have become accustomed to. They are bold, spicy and 100% vegetarian.

What are some good dishes to pair this drink with?

Chef Leyla did a fabulous job at creating a diverse and yet stunningly approachable menu. Brunch time favorites for the Prawn Star have to be the beet cured salmon omelet. It features fresh caught salmon, free range eggs, organic spinach topped with feta and a fanned local avocado.

What kind of experience can someone get at Cafe 21?

Cafe 21 was built on simple principals: community, hospitality, family. We want everyone who chooses our restaurant to feel like they are guests in our home. Our employees are inspired to be a part of that goal. It’s a great place to enjoy with your loved ones and friends.

Happy hour is a prime example, by serving small dishes that highlight small tasting offerings from both brunch and dinner we encourage family style dinning where everyone can taste, share and have their fill.

With drink specials like half-off sangria and fresh purees with champagne, happy hour is a fantastic way to grab some friends and share what Cafe 21 has to offer.

Cafe 21 - Gaslamp

802 Fifth Ave., downtown. (619) 795-0721 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 for everything music, food, beer and entertainment. You can also follow him on Instagram at @nardvillain or @thenardcast

Source: DiscoverSD