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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Gareth Moore of Carnitas' Snack Shack

When Gareth Moore isn't on the road touring with his band The Young Wild, he's at the bar crafting up some unique cocktails at Carnitas' Shack Shack Embarcadero, which is known for its pork-centric eats. Gareth shares his journey as a bartender, how he balances life and how to make this refreshing, smoky libation called Smoke on the Bay.

Smoke on the Bay


Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

.50 oz lime juice .75 oz tamarind syrup 1.50 oz pineapple-infused tequila .50 oz Mezcal El Silencio Garnish with pineapple leaf

What's the story behind the Smoke on the Bay?

It was created to give non-cocktail drinkers a peek at how more unique ingredients and slightly more obscure liquors can be used.

When choosing a mezcal, why did you pick Mezcal El Silencio?

Carlos Ochoa is really good at his job.

What's the process of infusing pineapple with tequila and why did you choose pineapple?

3 cups of pineapple meat to every bottle of tequila and let it infuse for a week.

What's the key component of this drink?

I think there are two that really stand out, which are the tamarind syrup and the mezcal. They really bring unique and contrasting flavors to the table. What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?

I'll have another.

What's a good dish to pair with this cocktail?

The pork belly. Its sweet glaze works really nicely with the smoke of the mezcal.

What kind of experience can diners get at Carnitas' Snack Shack Embarcadero?

The venue couldn't be in a more prime location. You can sit outside, have a great drink, a great bite and it's on the water. There isn't anything else like that in the bay. You can't go wrong.

Are there other cocktails on the menu that pair well with the food menu?

The Jalisco Maid and the fish tacos are a match made in heaven.

About Gareth Moore

Photo courtesy Jarnard SUtton

Are you from San Diego?

I've been here for 12 years, but I originally hail from Temecula.

How did you get into bartending?

It was a matter of circumstance (that worked out really well for me). It's one of the only jobs with a flexible enough schedule to allow you to be a touring musician and come home from the road with a chance you'll still be employed. What has your journey been like leading up to your current position at Carnitas' Snack Shack?

I've had the privilege of working for some of the best restaurant groups in town and a few from out of town, and that really allowed me to see all sides of the bar world. Then, fresh off my band's last stint on the road, I was offered a position by Mai, and with an office view like Carnitas' Snack Shack Embarcadero, it's hard to say no.

Are you a fan of mezcal? If so, what's your favorite mezcal libation?

Honestly, give me a Paloma made with mezcal with a Stiegl Radler or Mixwell Grapefruit Soda, and I'm happy. Define the perfect cocktail.

The perfect cocktail is what ever makes your guest happy. Whether that be a 12 touch tiki concoction or a vodka soda. If they're smiling then you've made the perfect cocktail for that moment. What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

Things take time, so be patient.

What trends are you currently seeing in San Diego?

Tiki is all the rage. Can't wait to get rum wasted.

Any bartenders you look up to or want to give props for what they're doing for the scene?

Tony Schmidt is the only guy I've really looked up to, and that's because seven years ago he showed me that there was more to alcohol than a whiskey coke. I really appreciate what everyone in San Diego is doing, actually more than appreciate. My mind is blown constantly by my friends and my peers, but Tony brought me in, so he will always stand taller than the rest.

I've noticed that you're in a band, what are you currently listening to?

I find myself listening to what my friends are putting out. Right now Mainland, Zella Day, The Record Company, Trace and Frenship all seem to be in an eclectic rotation.

How do you balance life, work and music?

Not well. Life has taken a bit of a backseat. When I'm home, I try to be behind the bar as much as I can while maintaining my knowledge of the band's music. While I'm on the road, it's pretty much just music. Road life is draining and being thousands of miles away from the bar or bars I would call home doesn't really let me contribute too much. What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?

Saying hi to friends who I never really see and letting them know that I exist outside of Instagram and Facebook. What's next for you?

Tour, bar, repeat. Hopefully one day I'll have my place, but that's for the future.

Carnitas' Snack Shack Embarcadero

Courtesy photo jarnard Sutton

1004 N Harbor Dr., Embarcadero San Diego. (619) 696-7675 or

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