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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with David Kinsey of Kindred

If it wasn't for Nate Stanton giving David Kinsey a chance behind the stick, we would not have some of the best and unique cocktails at Kindred. We caught up with Kinsey to chat about his start in the industry and his rum-based cocktail Ancient Astronaut, which is a riff off the tiki classic Jet Pilot.

Ancient Astronaut


1 oz Calwise Spiced Rum

.50 oz Zaya Trinidad Rum

.50 oz Appleton’s V/X Rum

1 oz Grapefruit Juice

.50 oz Lime Juice

.50 oz Cinnamon Bark

Dash of Ango/Allspice and Absinthe

What's the story behind the Ancient Astronaut?

The Ancient Astronaut is a riff on the tiki classic Jet Pilot, and was the first cocktail we did for our Permanent Vacation night that really clicked with our guests. I love conspiracies, so the name is a take on the "Ancient Alien" idea behind civilization on Earth.

Describe the taste.

The taste of the Ancient Astronaut really centers around baking spice with the cinnamon and rum blend really making that come front and center.

What's the key component of this drink?

The blend of Spiced Rum, Jamaican Rum and Aged Rum are the heart of the drink.

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

Guests unfamiliar with the wide extent of tiki cocktails are usually surprised by how the heavy emphasis on baking spice flavors can be surprisingly tropical.

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

I would pair it with our Stargazer salad, as the Ancient Astronaut really makes the rainier cherries and golden balsamic vinaigrette pop.

Watch as Kinsey makes his rum-based cocktail called Ancient Astronaut.

What kind of experience can guests get at Kindred?

Guests can get an elevated casual dining experience with no pretense, where their delicately balanced cocktails play off their fantasy and metal inspired names and the heavy riffage of our music selection.

About David Kinsey

Are you from San Diego?

Born and raised.

How has your journey been leading up to your role at Kindred?

It's been a lot of work, but I did get to learn from some of the most talented and knowledgeable people in our cocktail scene across Craft and Commerce and Sycamore Den.

What's your mission for the cocktail program?

My mission is to take ingredients and flavors the guest is already familiar with or thinks they know, and present them in a new way that makes them rethink how they view those ingredients.

What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?

I really like our Summerland Martini. It is a take on the classic 50/50 martini with a blend of some of my favorite vermouths and a dash of a savory caraway liqueur to enhance the texture.

Define the perfect cocktail.

The perfect cocktail is one where it is balanced between all the ingredients, but still maintains the unique characteristics of those ingredients.

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

I am seeing a lot more cocktails using ingredients influenced by our local culture like tamarind, hibiscus, etc.

What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

I wish people would understand that it isn't all about making drinks. Anyone can follow a recipe and make a cocktail, but doing it on what is essentially a stage in front of strangers while maintaining a rapport is where the challenge comes in.

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

As much as a customer service answers as this seems, my favorite drink to make is the one the guest is stoked on. That can be a 10 ingredient tiki cocktail or a vodka soda. I'm not behind the bar to work my ego, but to facilitate the guest's good time.

What's your favorite spirit?


What's your favorite liqueur?

Faretti Biscotti. It has that malty, bready, slight anise flavor of the best biscotti cookies.

What should everyone stock in their home bar?

Everyone should stock what they actually like to drink at their home bar. If you have people over, you'll be more stoked sharing with them something you truly enjoy, rather than something you felt you needed to have.

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

I'm usually reading and hanging with my pooch Pietro.

What's next for you?

I still have a lot I want to do for Kindred, so in regards to bartending, I want to continue to focus on our program here and fine tune it. Beyond that, I would love to continue to bring my cocktails to an even wider audience in San Diego.

Kindred 1503 30th Street, South Park. 619-546-9653 or

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