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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Joan Villanueva of The Hake

The beverage curator of the newly remodeled The Hake, Joan Villanueva, is creating some tasty and unique cocktails for diners to drink while enjoying the view and delicious grub. We had a chance to chat with Villanueva about his refreshing, herbal cocktail called T.A.K.



1.50 oz Sotol Por Siempre .50 oz House Sage Cordial .50 oz Pineapple Juice .50 oz Lime Juice .50 oz Agave Syrup

Garnished with crystallized basil

What's the story behind the T.A.K.cocktail? It is named after a good friend of mine, Trevor Alan Kelly, who happens to be a big fan of agave spirits. Describe the taste? Fresh and earthy. The citrus and pineapple work very well together and the Sage Cordial brings good balance to the herbal notes. What's the key component of this drink? Sotol Por Siempre; which is a spirit from Chihuahua. Watch as Joan Villanueva shows us how to make his refreshing cocktail, T.A.K.

What's a good dish to pair with this cocktail? I like it with the Ceviche and the Hamachi Tiradito. About Joan Villanueva

Are you from San Diego?

No, I was raised in Tijuana and have lived here a little over 10 years.

What has your journey been like leading up to your current position at The Hake?

I initially had this idea that I could serve and bartend while in college and after I got my degree, I realized that I really enjoyed being behind the bar.

What's your favorite thing about bartending?

The energy that surrounds it. Every shift is different and it allows people to be creative in a way that varies depending on who sits in front of you at the bar.

What's your favorite spirit?

I am not sure if I have a favorite, but I do gravitate a lot towards Fernet and Agave-based spirits as well as Wild Turkey 101.

Define the perfect cocktail.

Something balanced and bitter.

Who is your mentor in the bartending industry?

I learned a lot from Antonio Gonzalez when we worked together a few years ago. And while Trevor Alan Kelly and I worked together, we continuously pushed each other to look into new ways to grow as bartenders.

What are some cocktail/spirit trends you're seeing in San Diego?

I see people embracing the Tiki style (which I enjoy a lot), and having people create cocktail menus that are directly related to what chefs are doing in the kitchen.

What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?

Go out for dinner and read.

What's next for you?

Can’t wait to find out.

The Hake Kitchen & Bar

Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

1250 Prospect St B10, La Jolla. (858) 454-1637 or

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