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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Jesse Ross of Sycamore Den

Courtesy photo Jarnard Sutton / Jesse Ross of Sycamore Den

Jesse Ross, bar manager at Sycamore Den, is all about the local community and crafting cocktails. On this episode of Behind the Stick. He chats about his journey as a bartender and the story behind his Crime of Passion cocktail.

Crime of Passion


Photo courtesy Faith Thai / Crime of Passion from Sycamore Den

1.5 oz Beefeater London Dry Gin .75 oz fresh lemon juice .75 oz cayenne-passionfruit purée .5 oz l’Orgeat almond liqueur

Tajín rim

Garnish: Orange slice

What's the story behind the Crime of Passion?

I wanted to utilize a tropical ingredient in a drink that wasn't particularly tropical or tiki.

Describe the taste.

Tangy, refreshing and juicy.

What's the key component of this drink?

The cayenne-passionfruit puree.

What flavors does the gin add to the cocktail?

The gin adds the botanical flavor but I think the main thing it does is dry the drink out so that it's not too sweet.

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

It's a pretty popular one, I'm usually hoping to see a smile or the eyes widen. Also, I expect to get $11.

If you had to pair this cocktail with a dish, what would you pair it with?

Poke or fish tacos, maybe?

Watch as Jesse Ross shows us how to make their customer favorite, Crime of Passion.

What kind of experience can guests get at Sycamore Den?

Sycamore is the type of bar where it is what you make it. We aim to make it so everyone can feel comfortable, warm, safe and have a great experience no matter what.

What's unique about the cocktails here?

That we give a shit about them, ha ha.

About Jesse Ross

Courtesy photo Jarnard Sutton / Jesse Ross of Sycamore Den

Are you from San Diego?

I am, I was born and raised in Normal Heights, lived in San Francisco for six-and-a-half years and have been back for about six years.

How did you get your start in the industry and how has the journey been?

I lived with bartenders in San Francisco and worked in restaurants. I worked for Erik Castro at Polite Provisions as a barback when they were opening. I went to Noble Experiment and Neighborhood where I worked my way up to tending. I've now been at Sycamore as the bar manager for a little over two years.

What's your favorite thing about bartending?

Making people happy, always having different scenarios and little solvable puzzles ever shift, and the booze.

Define the perfect cocktail.

I'd imagine it would be cold and have booze in it.

What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

That we are people. It really takes a lot out of you emotionally if you fully give yourself to hospitality. I wish certain people would take that into considerations sometimes.

What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?

Probably the Forbidden Root by Shelby Atkinson. It has Aquavit, carrot, lemon, ginger and tumeric. It's fucking amazing.

What's your favorite spirit?

Don't have one. I love them all for different reasons. I probably drink American whiskey the most though.

What should everyone stock in their home bar?

Whiskey and club soda.

What do you do in your spare time when you're not working at Sycamore Den?

Take my dog out, eat food and watch Family Feud.

What's next for you?

I just wrapped my first consulting gig with Bivouac Ciderworks. I'd love to do more cocktail consulting in the future.

Sycamore Den

Photo courtesy Faith Thai / Crime of Passion from Sycamore Den

3391 Adams Ave., Normal Heights. (619) 563-9019 or

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