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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Wendy McGlinnen of Barbusa

If you're looking for delicious handcrafted Sicilian grub, then head to Barbusa in Little Italy. Not only are they providing its customers with good food with a Sicilian-like atmosphere, they're also crafting up unique and tasty cocktails such as the Pallone which means "flask" in Italian. We caught up with bar manager Wendy McGlinnen and she shares her journey as a bartender and the recipe for the Pallone.



3 oz Benchmark Bourbon

2.75 oz freshly pressed blackberry juice

.5 oz Earl Grey tea simple syrup

.75 oz fresh lemon juice

What's the story behind the Pallone?

Our General Manager, PJ, asked me to create a bottled cocktail, so to the drawing board I went. I knew I wanted to have a strong, bourbon-based drink that looked a little dangerous. I wanted to encourage the feeling of being a little naughty while sipping off a flask.

Describe the taste.

The upfront flavor is definitely going to be bourbon. This drink is not for the faint of heart. Next you will get the grassy fruit of the blackberry. Finally you will get the slightly bitter bergamot and black tea from the simple syrup. I wouldn't say this is a particularly sweet cocktail because the bright citrus of the lemon rounds out the profile to clean up the finish.

What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?

Our customers have been stoked on this fun cocktail....either straight from the flask and over a king cube.

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

My favorite dish with this cocktail is the Dolce Picante pizza. The blackberry, soppressata and Calabrian chili combination is delicious.

Watch as Wendy McGlinnen shows us how to make the Pallone, which means "flask" in Italian.

What kind of experience can guests get at Barbusa?

Barbusa specializes in modern Sicilian fare and I think our ambiance mimics the Sicilian people. They are they warm, approachable, boisterous and fun loving. Our food is hand-made and prepared with care. When you come in, you will be treated like familia.

About Wendy McGlinnen

Are you from San Diego?

I am originally from a small town in Michigan but have made San Diego my home for the past 18 years.

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

14 years ago the Busalacchi family opened a Sicilian steak house call Po Pazzo. After the restaurant I was working at in the Gaslamp District closed, I was hired in at their six month mark. After 13 years of success, the determination was made to renovate and re-brand, thus the birth of Barbusa. During the four month renovation, I decided to change things up and return to bartending and management. Frankly, I was bored and ready for a new challenge and I missed the theater of the position. Bartending is part party host, counselor and cheerleader.

What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?

I'm very excited about our new cocktail line up. My personal favorite is the Allegre.

What's your favorite spirit?

I am a gin lover and the herbal goodness backed up by a little tart citrus just makes my mouth water.

Define the perfect cocktail.

I think all perfect cocktails require layers of flavor without losing the flavor of the spirit. I want you to know you're having an adult libation, not soda pop.

If you're going out for a cocktail, what are some spots you like to go to?

There are many amazing establishments in San Diego that are offering delicious drinks and have great selections of our locally brewed beers but to be honest, I'm a pretty simple Irish girl on my day off.

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

Give me two hours in my garden and I'm ready for a pint of Stout and a Jameson at the Small Bar.


1917 India St., Little Italy. (619) 238-1917 or

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