Behind the Stick with Bryan Tetorakis of Polite Provisions
Polite Provisions, neighborhood bar in Normal Heights, believes in providing an unique experience with its tasty cocktails, vintage spirits, hip vibes and a dope atmosphere. Bryan Tetorakis, lead bartender, shares his recipe for this dark and bitter, scotch-based cocktail called Golden Goose. Bryan also chats about his journey as bartender.
2 oz Famous Grouse Scotch .75 oz Nonino Amaro .25 oz Gffard's banana liqueur Dash Scrappy's Chocolate Bitters Dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
Garnished with grated nutmeg
What's the story behind the Golden Goose?
It was an idea that stemmed from making creative shots behind the bar. I took the idea from the popular San Diego shot called the Bronar, which is half Cynar and half bourbon. I've always had a love affair with Amaro and I wanted to see how I could work with some tropical flavors as well.
Describe the taste?
Dark and bitter, with hints of smoked herbs and cacao.
What's the key component of this drink?
This was an interesting approach, but we built this one from the inside out. The focus of the cocktail was the Nonino and banana liqueur. The other ingredients were discovered after we had the initial flavor contrast. The scotch, I feel, is almost a supporting cast in the drink.
What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?
A couple of my favorite regulars were in the other day and tried it for the first time. They usually order some more basic, refreshing cocktails like the Bees Knees and the Southsides. They decided to give it a whirl and their eyes got really big, and were pleasantly pleased of the flavors reminiscent of the banana's foster.
What's a good dish to pair with this cocktail?
I would like to think this is more of an after dinner libation. I could definitely see it pairing well with tortes, bread pudding and spiced desserts with nuts.
When choosing a Scotch, why did choose Famous Grouse Scotch?
Famous Grouse is our workhorse scotch whisky. It has very delicate tones to it and it was very agreeable with the banana and bitter components.
Watch as Bryan Tetorakis makes his scotch-based cocktail, Golden Goose.
What kind of experience can guests get at Polite Provision?
Polite is one of my favorite bars in the world. I love the variable experience that can be offered. We are a neighborhood bar. You can come in for a beer and a shot, have a mind blowing cocktail or have a glass of a rare or vintage spirit. There is something here for everybody.
About Bryan Tetorakis
Are you from San Diego?
I've lived in San Diego for a little over a year. I moved here from Washington, D.C., but I am originally from Cleveland, OH.
How did you get into bartending?
I was the sous chef at a now shuttered restaurant in D.C. called PS-7's. The bar program was operated by a famous bartender, Gina Chersevani. As a chef new to cocktails, I was blown away by the detail and precision executed on cocktails. New to D.C. at the time, they would take me to this legendary bar up the street called The Passenger. The Passenger was run by Tom and Derek Brown, local and national legends themselves. I'll never forget the first cocktail I had that really caught my attention. It was Tom's riff on a Widow's Kiss called the Widow Maker. After that moment, I would spend my day off each week trying to recreate one of the drinks I fell in love with at home. It was then I met RJ Cooper, who was opening Rogue 24 at the time. He had a restaurant concept that required a bartender that had modernist chef experience. It was a sign, and it was the best career decision I have ever made.
What has your journey been like leading up to your current position at Polite Provision?
It's been an experience. There was definitely a learning curve to overcome. I have never worked at a high volume bar before. Most of my experience has been speakeasies and restaurant bars. It was tough at times, especially in my earlier bartender days, to be taken seriously coming right out of cooking and into bartending. I'm very fortunate to have had so many mentors looking out for me.
Who is your mentor in the bartending industry?
I have so many people to look up to. Derek Brown, JP Fetherston, Gina Chersevani and Rachael Sergi were all there for me in the beginning of my bartending career. They all inspired me to be great at what I do and never stop striving to be the best. Erick Castro had done miracle work with my technique and precision since I started at Polite Provisions. We are very fortunate to host guests bartenders from all across the globe. I have taken so much from each of them.
What's your favorite thing about bartending?
I don't know if I can pick a favorite thing honestly. It would be a photo finish between recreating American history, the joy you can bring to a guest, whether they had a rough day and needed smile and a libation, or they just came to get a drink made by you. That's the best feeling.
What's your favorite spirit?
That's like picking your favorite child! If I had to choose only one to work with, I would say rum. The versatility and the endless contrast in styles is just mind blowing. I would argue the same to a close second being brandies. I love them all, from applejack to Armanac. We don't celebrate brandy enough.
Define the perfect cocktail.
I believe balance and contrast is the name of the game. It's very easy to have a drink that is palatable, but making something dynamic is far more difficult. I like when flavors bounce off each other. One ingredient can make the others more intense. It is similar to using fresh herbs in a dish, or adding some lemon zest to brighten something rich.
What trends are you currently seeing in San Diego?
Tropical drinks have been the trend lately. Maybe it's a summer thing? Not only do you see a ton of tropical juice in bars across town such as pineapple, passion fruit and guava, but it's hot on the request line too. A lot of our guests commonly want a taller drink with a lot of fruit. I love the city's passion for agave spirits as well.
What are your favorite spots for a cocktail?
I love the Sycamore Den. Like I was saying earlier, you can go in for a beer and a shot, or have a mind blowing drink. The bartenders there have a ton of experience and love to get funky. You can never go wrong at The Lion's Share for a great bite and amazing cocktails. On a special treat yourself occasion, you gotta love Noble Experiment.
What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?
I enjoy basketball quite a bit. I feel it's one of the best ways to shut my brain off and work out stress. I also enjoy playing guitar. It stimulates creative flow a lot of the time. I have trouble sitting still, so just being able to hold it and mindlessly pluck away is really soothing.
What's next for you?
Hard to say. I plan on being a fixture at Polite for quite a while. I love this city and I love our guests. I do plan on getting a bar started in the future. I'm certain soon, the stars will align, and it will be the right time to take the jump into ownership. I look forward to the future of the cocktail scene in San Diego. It would make me very proud to bring this city another amazing cocktail bar, we all deserve it.
4696 30th St., Normal Heights. (619) 677-3784 or polieprovisions.com
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