If you're looking for a thick pumpkin-flavored cocktail with whiskey, then this maple drink is for you.
Watch as assistant general manager of Cusp Dining & Drinks, Demian Carpenter, make The Harvest.
Did you grow up in San Diego?
I was born and raised on beautiful Mission Bay in Crown Point. I spent two years in Los Angeles working for the Hard Rock in Hollywood, which led to 10 years of running bars in Las Vegas. Finally, I had the incredible opportunity to return to San Diego, and I have been working for Cusp Dining & Drinks and Hiatus Pool Lounge at Hotel La Jolla for the last 10 months.
How did you get into bartending?
I got into bartending because I loved the energy of a crowd on a busy night. It is a blessing to work in an environment where people are there to celebrate and have a great time. My job is to provide an "experience" for the guest. Anybody can pour a beer or place a food order. We try to set ourselves apart by building relationships with, and creating unparalleled experiences for our guests.
What kind of experience can someone get at Cusp?
Cusp Dining & Drinks is a place where you can come and enjoy amazing food or cocktails made with only the finest and freshest ingredients. We skip the pretentious attitude and attempt to create an environment that is casual, but unforgettable. There is nothing like enjoying your favorite cocktail and looking out of the 11th story windows as the sun sets in the ocean. Once the doors open up and the ocean breeze flows in, you will never want to leave!
What's your favorite drink to make?
My favorite drink to make is a made-from-scratch margarita. I love getting creative and using infused tequilas or adding ingredients that aren't normally associated with the traditional margarita recipe. The variations are endless, and the results are usually spectacular!
When you're not mixing drinks, what are you doing on your spare time?
When I am not mixing drinks, I am usually drinking the drinks. I like to think of it as competitive research. I also enjoy the beach, the gym or a good Netflix binge.
- 1 ½ oz. Maker's Mark whiskey
- 1 oz. whole milk
- 1 oz. maple syrup
- 1 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
- A healthy serving of pumpkin puree
Garnish with a cinnamon stick and caramelized Fuji apples.
What's the origin of The Harvest?
At Cusp, we like to change our cocktail menu on a seasonal basis. We wanted to feature a few cocktails that exemplified the holiday season. Our incredible bar staff collaborated and came up with several recipes that scream, "'Tis the season!"
How would you describe the taste to someone who hasn't had this before?
The Harvest is a cocktail that best represents the flavors and smells of Thanksgiving. Whether it is the roasted cinnamon aroma, the rich full flavors of Makers Mark whiskey or the fresh pumpkin puree, sipping this beverage brings to mind images of turkey feasts, family toasts and watching football by the fire.
What would be the key component in this drink?
The Harvest derives its most prominent flavor from fresh pumpkin puree with notes of vanilla, woody oak, caramel and a hint of maple. The aroma of roasted cinnamon is abundant.
What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?
Guests are usually surprised by how balanced the flavors are in this cocktail. Although it could be perceived as a dessert drink, it is surprisingly drinkable for any time. Maker's Mark fans are surprised to find that the rich and robust whiskey flavors of spice, vanilla and smoke are not lost in this recipe.
Any reason why you chose Maker's Mark whiskey?
I chose this whiskey because Maker's Mark has a longer finish on the front of the tongue with no roughness or bitterness and yet holds up beautifully in this recipe.
Where does the light smoky taste come from?
We capture the smoke of roasted cinnamon stick embers in the glass. This process not only adds a delicious roasted cinnamon aroma to the cocktail, but also compliments and accentuates the natural smoked oak flavors of the whiskey.
How long will this seasonal cocktail be on the menu?
Guests will have the opportunity to try this delicious holiday cocktail until the end of the year.
What are some good dishes to pair this drink with?
The Harvest could be paired nicely with many of our Cusp entrees. The three that I would recommend are the roasted peppercorn New Yorker, the Moroccan spice cured chicken or the red wine braised beef cheeks.
Will the drink be available for Thanksgiving?
This cocktail will also be available on Thanksgiving and would pair incredibly with traditional Thanksgiving fare.
Cusp Dining & Drinking
7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla
(858) 858-551-3620 or cusprestaurant.com
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 television. You can also follow him on Instagram at @nardvillain