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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Ken Lindstrom of Fairweather

Ken Lindstrom, bar manager of Rare Form/Fairweather, shares his tiki-based cocktail, Orange is the New Black, inspired by the popular Netflix series. He also defines the perfect cocktail and explains the concept of a tiki drink.

Orange is the New Black


Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

1 oz Hamilton Jamaican Gold 1 oz Goslings Black Rum .75 oz Amaro Montenegro 1 oz orange juice .75 oz lime juice .25 oz cinnamon syrup

Garnishes: orchid and orange slice

What’s the story behind the Orange is the New Black cocktail?

Well, I'm a fan of the show and I do like to name my cocktails after a book, movie, TV show or something in popular culture to lure my guests to try something new. Orange juice is the orange and Amaro Montenegro represents the black, so, Orange is the New Black was the perfect name. How would you describe the taste to someone who hasn’t had this before?

The taste of this drink is tiki-inspired. It is bright, juicy and refreshing with a dark, spicy soul. This drink is complex and multi-layered with flavors that you experience across your palette as you drink it. What would be the key component in this drink?

I think the Amaro Montenegro is the prominent flavor. I would describe Amaro Montenegro as herbaceous. What are some good dishes to pair with this drink?

I think this drink would go great with grilled foods. Kabobs, ribs and roasted corn on the cob would be perfect. What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?

Guests tend to be unfamiliar with the amaro category of spirits, so, they are pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoy the flavor.

Watch as Ken Lindstrom makes the Orange is the New Black.

What kind of experience can diners have at Rare Form/Fairweather?

An experience like none other. Wholesome sandwiches, comfort food, and eau de vie incorporated craft cocktails at Rare Form and a secret vacation in international waters with tiki-inspired drinks at Fairweather. About Ken Lindstrom

Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

Are you from San Diego?

I was born and raised in Chicago. I’ve lived in San Diego/Southern California since 2009. How did you get into bartending?

I started as security and barback and worked my way up to bartender in my 20's. I got into craft cocktails in 2011 and felt that I had found my true calling. I like that craft bartending is equal parts historical, creative, hospitality, time management and mental organization. What's your thought process when creating a new cocktail?

I have two methods for creating a cocktail. The first one is starting with a classic cocktail’s structure and adding, subtracting and substituting. This route is better for creating dealer’s choice cocktails on the fly when you are busy. The second way is to freestyle it. Go completely off script, use ingredients that are more challenging to use and see what happens. This one is more time consuming but, can yield some extraordinary results. This is how my two favorite creations have been made including the Orange is the New Black. Define the perfect cocktail.

A perfect cocktail is tailored to the guest, balanced, and accentuates the prominent ingredient or the perfect blend of ingredients to create a whole new flavor experience. What are your thoughts on tiki cocktails?

Tiki is so cool because the drinks have inspired a culture. Many of the drinks do not conform to a cocktail family and have both complex flavor profiles, garnishes and glassware. Tiki is definitely the most challenging style of bartending I’ve ever tackled and I love it. It is daunting to start, but, very rewarding, especially since there is a common misconception that tiki drinks are all sweet, when in fact, they are so much more. Many tiki drinks are herbaceous, spicy and juicy more than they are sweet. The modern tiki bartender has a duty to re-educate the public on the difference between tiki drinks(classic and complex) and spring break drinks(super sweet).

What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

I wish people understood that bartending is a real job/career. It's hard work and their is a lot more that goes into it than most people think. It’s just a lot more fun than many other jobs. What's your favorite drink to make behind the bar?

My favorite drink to make is a Jet Pilot or my riff on the Jet Pilot aka the Stone Temple Pilot. Both are a Zombie variation. With 7+ ingredients and multiple kinds of rum, it has so much going on and creating it for a customer is a show in itself. Are you a huge rum drinker? If so, what's your favorite rum libation?

I am an equal opportunity drinker. My favorite spirits are definitely, bourbon, rum, and mezcal. The Zombie is my favorite rum libation. I like my cocktails complicated, boozy and with a story behind them.

What's next for you?

I move to Chicago at the end of September. I'd like to keep moving and bartend in a different city every year or so. It's a job I can do anywhere! That's one of the many things I love about it. What should everyone stock in their home bar?

I could make an epic list of things that I would have in my home bar, but, I am going to keep it simple and say that the one most important thing to have at a home bar(or at any bar for that matter) is fresh juices. Always use fresh juices. The juice is always worth the squeeze.

Rare Form/Fairweather

Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

795 J St., downtown. (619) 255-6507 or

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