For CH Projects operations team member and Polite Provisions bartender Erick Castro, it’s still all about the cocktails.
“I feel like this is the best cocktail menu we’ve ever done,” he recently told PACIFIC about the menu for Raised by Wolves, CH Projects’ newest bar, which opened in April at Westfield UTC. The menu he's referring to was created by Castro in concert with CH beverage director Anthony Schmidt and Simple Serve’s Chris Patino.
“I got tired of seeing the same old conventions and tropes show up on cocktail list after cocktail list. There’s usually one spicy drink, a Tiki drink and so on — I don’t want to knock these, because there’s a reason they work, but I wanted this menu to work against the conventions we’re used to,” he said.
Castro explained that because the space is so unique, that signaled to him that they should try to be avant-garde with the menu selections, too.
What makes Raised by Wolves so special? Castro thinks that a Basile Studio-designed “bougie” bottle shop in front with a craft cocktail bar hidden in the back is something that hasn’t been done before. Furthermore, it’s in a mall. Granted, a beautiful, tricked-out one, but a shopping mall nonetheless.
“That makes it unique all on its own,” Castro said while laughing. “Because it’s in a mall, I didn’t aim for the cocktail list to be comfortable. We all know to make them delicious, but we wanted to make sure all of the ingredients were unique.”
To that point, one of the new, signature cocktails coming out of Raised by Wolves is a riff on the Old Fashioned, called the Island Fashioned. Castro broke it down, explaining that instead of the classic riff containing bourbon or rye whiskey, he wanted to lighten the typical notes of spice and oak by incorporating what he calls, "island flavors." In the Island Fashioned, Jameson Irish Whiskey is fat washed in coconut oil; dashed with banana liqueur and Amargo Chuncho and Angostura bitters and garnished with nutmeg.
“Once fat-washed, the whiskey almost tastes like pineapple and banana anyway, so to me the added elements give a really cool flavor that is welcome and delicious yet not playing into what we expected — it’s not predictable at all,” Castro said.
As for the bottle shop, customers can expect the unexpected, as well. Castro explains that the bottle shop focuses on boutique spirits, in particular high quality bottles that he thinks most bars wouldn’t bother educating their staff on. Castro also lets on that Raised by Wolves traffics in vintage bottles, in particular Martell Cordon Bleu cognac and Old Forester bourbon from the 1960s.
Bolstered by a one-of-a-kind cocktail list, the Raised by Wolves team is confident they can become a staple stop for mall shoppers as well as a destination for drinkers looking for something special.
“There are all of these incredible restaurants and new stores bringing in foot traffic,” Castro mused. “It’s become a place where you can hang out, rather than just shop. It’s weird — I think the mall is cool again!”
The Raised by Wolves boutique is open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily (Sunday-Thursday). The cocktail lounge is open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight. Reservations for the cocktail lounge are recommended. Both the boutique and bar are open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Raised by Wolves, 4301 La Jolla Village Dr., Ste. 2030 at Westfield UTC, 619.629.0243