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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Chelcie Lopez of Banzai

The new dive bar in Point Loma, Banzai, is the spot to go if you want a shot of Jameson, a domestic beer on draft, delicious eats (must-try their Banzai Nugs) and a spot that's divey. This spot is definitely worth hitting up before or after the San Diego Gulls game. They have made a cocktail in honor of the legendary San Diego Gulls trailblazer Willie O'Ree, who also wore jersey number 20 when he played for the Gulls. He also broke the NHL color barrier, being the first black person to step foot on the ice back in '58 with the Bruins. The lead bartender Chelcie Lopez shares the recipe to this bourbon-based cocktail with Behind the Stick San Diego.

No. 20


Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

.50 oz Simple Syrup .25 oz lemon juice .50 oz Blackberries purée 2 oz Bulleit Bourbon 2 dashes angostura bitters

Garnish with a blackberry

What's the story behind No. 20?

Banzai is the official home of the Gulls Hockey Team, so we made a cocktail with

a little history behind it. The No. 20 cocktail refers to the player Willie O’Ree, an

all-star player for the Gulls!

Describe the taste.

I would describe this drink as smooth with a hint of sweetness, which

complements the bourbon.

What's the key component of this drink?

It would have to be our blackberry purée and Bulleit Bourbon makes this drink

what it is.

What's the process in making your own blackberry purée?

We add a mixture of our house-made simple syrup and blackberries to mix up a

delicious purée.

What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for

the first time?

They are intrigued when they see this cocktail with our single large ice cube and magenta shade. Veteran and new bourbon drinkers are surprised with how much they dig this drink.

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

I would recommend our Seared Ahi Tacos. Four delicious Ahi tacos built on a

corn tortilla with pickled carrots, cilantro, sriracha and wasabi cream, for a nice

kick! It's finished off with sesame seed and crispy garlic. The No. 20 helps put out the

heat that these little tasty tacos can bring.

Watch as Chelcie Lopez shows us how to make this refreshing, bourbon-based libation called No. 20.

What kind of experience can guests get at Banzai Bar?

Being a Southern California dive bar, you can expect a warm welcome by all of

our staff. Often you’ll find great conversation with the bartender and other

patrons. Who knows, you might get pulled into to a Connect 4 game. I dare you

to come challenge me! We are always having fun. Plus, there are always

throwback music videos playing in the background. If you’re hanging out during a

Gulls game or late night, you might just have a Banzai sake bomb in your future,

on the house.

About Chelcie Lopez

Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

Are you from San Diego?

I am from Central California. Ihave been living in San Diego for about a year

now. Living by the ocean and the California sun is a great combination for my


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

Banzai Bar?

I honestly got really lucky by meeting one of the awesome managers over at

Waterfront who was telling me aboutt a project that was soon

to be opening up. A month went by and in late September, I was here. That’s

when Banzai opened with a bang!

What's your favorite thing about bartending?

You never know who is going to walk into the bar. I have met some interesting people from all over the world. The vibe every night is different and I really enjoy that type of exhilarating atmosphere.

What are some challenges you face as a bartender?

Late nights and early mornings!

What's your favorite spirit?

I have been getting into trying various types of tequilas. I've been learning about tequila,

Mezcal and Anejo. So yummy!

Define the perfect cocktail.

Something a little sweet, but you can still taste the high quality tequila. It also has to look pretty.

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

A lot more spin offs of tropical drinks such as a Piña Colada. The presentation on

these drinks have been on point and they have an impeccable taste!

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

When I'm not behind the bar, I like to get lost in adventure. I am always exploring

and discovering new places and things in San Diego.

What's next for you?

Living in San Diego, there is so much opportunity and good times. I know what’s

meant for me will come my way. That’s how I like to live life.


Photo courtesy Jarnard Sutton

3048 Midway Dr., Point Loma. (619) 501-5458 or

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