Isn’t it hard being so far away from your wife and kids? Yes, but I always go see them; every year I go over there. Usually I stay for a month. Two or three years ago, I went and stayed there for 11 months.
How did you get your start in bartending? I was working at Bacar, which is now Alexander’s Steakhouse. My first two bartenders told me, “OK, you want to make drinks? First you have to wash glasses.” I bar-backed there for two years and worked my way up. I became lead bartender in 2005. I had really good mentors: Carlos Yturria, Neyah White and Ryan Fitzgerald. Being a bartender is a really fun job. I didn’t think it was going to be my career, but I’ve been doing it 10 years already.
What makes working at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana fun for you? The customers. Everybody knows what they’re asking for, but they appreciate my input. I had some customers recently who wanted to know the difference between Laphroaig and Highland Park scotch whisky, and I told them about the regions where they are made. They thanked me for knowing, because they’d been to another restaurant where the bartender couldn’t answer their questions. I actually learn a lot from my customers. The more you talk, the more you learn.
Is there any style or sensibility you’re trying to express with your drinks? What I focus on is making a tropical cocktail. When you go to Peru, the cocktails tend to be tropical.
What’s your take on San Francisco after living here as long as you have? This city is wonderful. You can go anywhere and try so many different things. And we have our baseball team winning two World Series already!
Do you have any hobbies? I’m always on the computer learning about cocktails, but my only hobby is checking on my business in Mexico.
Is it a bit of an adjustment to be a business owner, yet also somebody’s employee? Not really. My dream was to open a taqueria. That already happened, but I was not satisfied. To be in San Francisco, working behind the bar as a bar manager — I’m learning a lot of things, and this brings me closer to my next dream, which is to some day open my own Latin American bar.
1.5 oz Pisco Porton
1.25 oz lime juice
½ oz crème de cassis
½ oz ginger syrup
½ oz simple syrup
1 jalapeno wheel (goes in shaker with other ingredients)
Shake, then pour over ice into chilled Collins glass. Top off with ginger beer, then garnish with a lime peel and another jalapeno wheel.
La Mar Cebichería Peruana
Pier 1 ½ The Embarcadero
(415) 397 8880