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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Brian Gaudet of Waterbar

Brian Gaudet, bar manager at Waterbar, creates his take on the Tequila Sunrise, utilizing mezcal and grapefruit juice. On this episode of Behind the Stick, Brian shares his recipe for his delicious tart, smokey and balanced libation called Queen Anne's Revenge.

Queen Anne's Revenge


1 oz Ilegal Mezcal .25 oz Cherry Heering (float) 1oz IPA 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters .5 oz Lemon Juice .5 oz Grapefruit Juice .5 oz Agave dehydrated half grapefruit wheel

What's the story behind the Queen Anne's Revenge?

I knew we needed a mezcal cocktail on our menu. It is one of the fastest growing spirits categories in the world (over 300% growth since 2011). The idea behind the drink was to be the "evil stepsister" of the classic Tequila Sunrise. Grapefruit pairs well with mezcal so it made sense to use that instead of orange juice. In place of grenadine I chose to layer Cherry Heering and Peychaud's bitters to create a similar visual effect, yet a much more flavorful and balanced cocktail. The final piece was the IPA, which makes the drink more refreshing and a lot less harsh on the palate, allowing it to pair better with food, specifically seafood. As far as the name goes, we decided to stick with the nautical theme for all cocktail names. Once I noticed the garnish looked like a ship's sail I set out to find a bad ass pirate ship to name the cocktail after.

Describe the taste.

Queen Anne's Revenge is tart, smoky and balanced.

What's the key component of this drink?

There isn't one key component. Everything comes together to create a flavor profile that is balanced, yet not overly complex.

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

My favorite reactions are from those who are not familiar with mezcal. Guests that are familiar with the spirit love the cocktail, but it is much more rewarding to see that mezcal virgins are pleasantly surprised and often order a second!

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

Speaking honestly, there are a lot of bold flavors in this drink, so it isn't an easy pairing. That being said, Chef Steven Lona has a unique cooking style and a lot of my favorite dishes have a presence of spice, whether subtle or prominent. The citric acid in Queen Anne's Revenge cuts nicely through the spice in his Ceviche and Fish Tacos and also pairs surprisingly well with the sweetness of his Sweet Potato Curry with Coconut Rice.

Watch as Brian crafts up his delicious tart, smokey and balanced libation called Queen Anne's Revenge.

What kind of experience can guests get at Waterbar?

It is our mission to have a little something for everyone. We want our guests to be comfortable coming in for brunch with their family, dinner with friends or blowing off some steam after work on a Friday night. If craft cocktails are your thing, we discount the entire list at $7 all day on Thursday. All cellar bottles of wine are half off on Wednesday and we offer a non-traditional "Boardwalk Hour" on weekdays from 8 to10 p.m.

About Brian Gaudet

Are you from San Diego?

No, but I do feel like I'm becoming a local after 7 years here. I am originally from Everett, MA, a small city neighboring Boston to the north. How has your journey been leading up to your role at Waterbar?

It has been an amazing road with both ups and downs and most importantly, lots of learning and growth. A lot of that growth has actually happened here at Waterbar, where I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work for - and with - some awesome and talented people.

What's your mission for the cocktail program?

My mission is to remain unique and to stick to the identity that we have begun to establish. Part of that is staying devoted to the craft and part of it is listening to what our guests are asking for. Lastly, I aim to develop a culture where creative ideas come from anyone, not just myself. As a matter of fact, our newest cocktail, Volturnus, was the brainchild of one of our bar leads, Daniel Vargas.

What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?

The one we are talking about right now, of course! Actually, it's probably a tie. I know, that sounds lame, but it's like picking your favorite child. The Merlion is my other favorite. Surprisingly, it is a vodka-based cocktail, but its complexity, color, presentation and how well it pairs with the beach make it the one that I am the most proud of at the moment.

Define the perfect cocktail.

This was the most difficult question to answer. The word "perfect" to me symbolizes something that we will always strive for, yet never actually reach. However, the more I think about it, a well-made Old Fashioned has it all - spirit, sugar, bitters and citrus. I make mine a bit differently (and of course I think it's the best) with 100 proof Rye, Peychaud's (the original bitters) and only lemon zest, no orange.

What are some cocktail trends you are noticing in San Diego?

Outside of the obvious - the tiki boom, speakeasy-style bars, mezcal's growth, rum's comeback, homemade everything - the most important trends I'm seeing are what the consumer is asking for, or just asking in general. People want to know not just what goes into the glass, but where it came from and who created it. Consumers are much more informed and opinionated these days. Although some of us in "the industry" can find this annoying or frustrating, at the end of the day it is pushing us all to know more and to be better.

What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

How seriously the professionals take their craft. I do not put myself in this category, but the best bartenders I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with are basically chefs - chefs that are artists and are painting with liquid on glass rather than food on plate or oil on canvas. I would like to add that I wish more bartenders and "mixologists" understood the history behind what they do and that no matter how creative, fast or charismatic, they are in the business of hospitality and at the core of hospitality is service.

What's your favorite drink to make behind the bar?

Whatever you want. No, seriously, whatever will make you happy is my favorite thing to make. If you twist my arm I'll say it's the Old Fashioned I just mentioned.

What's your favorite spirit?

Palates change over time, as do preferences and trends. In this moment I'd say anything that comes from fermented agave. Can't go wrong with a good American Whiskey that was bottled in bond, though.

What's your favorite liqueur?

This one is much easier - any Amaro, but specifically Fernet.

What should everyone stock in their home bar?

Vermouth, or rather vermouths. You need dry vermouth for a proper martini, sweet vermouth for Manhattans and Negronis and Spanish vermouth is fantastic by itself or with soda/tonic as an apertif. I have five at the moment, along with some Lillet for good measure. What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?

Spare time, what's that? In all seriousness, though, life is all about balance just like cocktails. I have a passion for music and travel so that's where I spend a lot of my time - and money. On a typical day off I like to relax by getting out in nature or by spending time with friends and my amazing girlfriend. Oh, and there's always time for "market research" whether that be here in San Diego or somewhere close by like Orange County, LA or Palm Desert. What's next for you?

Summer is right around the corner. We just opened a few months ago so Waterbar will remain my focus for the foreseeable future. My long-term career plans have always centered around using the knowledge I have to help other's be successful in their ventures. Who knows where this awesome rollercoaster will take me, but I am extremely happy to be working for OMG Hospitality and for Waterbar and for the opportunity to be part of creating something unique and new in Pacific Beach.


4325 Ocean Blvd., Pacific Beach. (858) 888-4343 or

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