Women + whiskey: Meet a bartender who says you don’t know jack until you meet her gentlemen

Tiana - Gentleman Jack
Tiana Selvin is a bartender at barleymash. (Advertisement)

The Jack Daniel’s Distillery was established in 1866. Now, 150 years later, meet the San Diego women who are making whiskey history.

Bartender: Tiana Selvin

Venue: barleymash

Where are you from?

TIANA SELVIN: I’m from all over. I grew up a military brat, so I lived in a lot of different places. San Diego is actually the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.

What’s awesome about barleymash?

One of the awesome things about us is that we offer something for everyone. We have 30 beers on tap, and an extensive cocktail and spirits list. Our food is great, too. You can come in and enjoy yourself dressed to the nines for craft cocktails and dancing, or, if you’re feeling more relaxed, you can come in for a beer and a burger. Everyone is welcome. 

What cocktail are you making today?

My cocktail is called the Gentleman’s Club. It has cream de cacao and a really good coconut liqueur. It’s a takeoff of an old classic cocktail called a Trinidad Sour - lots of bitters, but really well-balanced with the chocolate and coconut flavors.

What do you love about whiskey?

There are so many great things about whiskey. For one, it can go with any mood and be manipulated to fit any occasion. If you’re looking for something direct, an Old Fashioned might fit the bill. Feeling like a more refreshing cocktail? A Whiskey Sour could cream your Twinkie. Even whiskey and soda water is a great match. It literally goes with everything.

When did you become a whiskey lover?

Honestly, I was a whiskey lover right off the bat. I grew up with a very big and social family, and whiskey was definitely a spirit of choice. My first drink ordered at a bar was a whiskey and coke. As I got older and started in the bartending world, I fell more and more in love with it. Here at barley, we have over 100 whiskeys to choose from, so I got the opportunity to really delve into the whiskey world. There are so many varieties and taste profiles. As I mentioned before, I can use whiskey for so many cocktails to fit so many occasions. Whiskey is truly a chameleon. 

What advice do you have for whiskey newbies?

The best advice is to try as many as you can. Know what you like as far as sweet, smoky, smooth, spicy. It can be easier to introduce whiskey, if you try it in a cocktail first versus neat or on the rocks. There are so many flavor profiles, so I would say to find one that you like and look into trying ones that have a similar build. barleymash is a great place for beginners. We have tons of options, a very knowledgeable staff and, Monday through Friday, we have happy hour, and you can try them half-off. 

barleymash, 600 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp, 619.255.7373,



‘Tender moments: Sonja Benavides, The Office Bar