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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Nicole White

Nicole White, former bartender at McFadden's and Illusion's Magic Dinner Theatre, has been in the industry forever, starting out as a barista and moving up to crafting cocktails at several bars. On this episode of Behind the Stick, she made us her tasty cocktail called "Jameson & The Giant Peach," inspired by one of her favorite movies as a kid "James & The Giant Peach.

Jameson & The Giant Peach

2oz Jameson Irish Whiskey

1oz fresh squeezed Lemon Juice

1oz peach green tea (can make your own, Starbucks brand is fine)

1oz vanilla simple** 1:1

1 egg white

Peach Slice, as garnish

Dash of bitters

What's the story behind "Jameson & the Giant Peach"?

I am inspired by movies, music, art in general which is why I named it after one of my favorite movies as a kid "James & The Giant Peach, one of the top seller's at McFadden's is Jameson. I wanted to make a more approachable cocktail for guests that aren't used to craft cocktails, but would like to step out of the box. I feel sometimes people will go for simpler drinks in fear of possibly being met with attitude instead of guiding them and helping them find their drink. Which in some cases in my own research I have found to be true. I want every guest to feel comfortable and welcome here. What kind of experience can guests get at McFadden's?

First and foremost all of the bartenders at McFadden's are super welcoming and team oriented, we want everyone to be safe and have a hood time. During the day around 5pm we open & have happy hour deals from 3 dollar domestics to 5 dollar well, it is a more chill vibe, we have over 30 HDTVs including outside on the patio, beer pong, pool table, night time it turns into a fun dance club, there are competitions and giveaways Fridays and Saturdays, Thursdays is dollar domestic beer night after 9pm. We are very active on Instagram @mcfaddenssd

What's unique about the cocktails here at McFadden's?

Right now the menu is focused on mules, but we are working on getting a few craft cocktails & variations of classics for the guests to explore. COMING SOON!

Anyone can make a great cocktail, but making the guest happy is number one in my book, We have a lot of regulars. Sometimes a group will come in one will want a bud light, one will want an old fashioned, one a Cosmo, and one a long island I will make whatever makes that guest happy. For cocktails it is about balance, for guests it is about approachability with the bartender and with the cocktail.

About Nicole White

Are you from San Diego?

I lived in Winslow, Maine for most of my life, before I moved to San Diego I lived in Berwick, ME, Salisbury MA, and Newburyport Massachusetts for over 8 years. I've lived in San Diego for the past 2 years.

How has your journey been as a bartender?

I've gotten to work in hospitality most of my life, I've been fortunate to be trained corporate first, took those skills to Oregano Ristorante for 4 years in Newburyport, took "The mindful bartender" course at cocktails in the country with Gaz Regan, which was life changing, got the experience of creating a bar program for NOLKA in Maine (name changed now), worked at Glass Lounge Hyatt Place hotel in the Old Port Portland, Maine, and was a guest bartender at "The Wallingford Dram" in kittery, maine. I've been fortunate enough to work at restaurants, night clubs, and craft cocktail bars, enter and become a finalist in some competitions, been on the news for the other bar I work at Illusion's Magic Dinner Theatre in Gaslamp. I'm a member of the USBG and always learning and reading cocktail books, but at the heart of it my journey is to keep my co-workers, and guests happy and safe.

What's your thought process when creating a cocktail menu?

My thought process is having something for everyone, being inspired by where I am living at the time and what the guests like. One of each spirit, one with mixed spirits, some fruity, sour, spirit forward, creamy, etc. With great names and something all of us can recreate with ease.

What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?

Jameson & The Giant Peach. I came here in August/September so 2019 we will have a new updated menu I want to add a couple Seedlip non-alcohol cocktails too!

Define the perfect cocktail.

One where I am surrounded by good friends, and it is perfectly balanced, one which makes me order over and over again. One that keeps me going back to that bar! I love "The Crime of Passion", at Sycamore Den, and "Pina Verde" at Polite Provisions, but also enjoy a Jameson whiskey neat or a Fresh Squeezed Juice Margarita!

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

I love when guests give me free reign and tell me what spirits and styles of cocktails they like, so far I have done well. I enjoy making Old Fashioneds and Last Words, but that is more at Illusion's, here at McFadden's people love beer and shots, when I get to make a margarita for a guest they are pleased with the outcome.

What should everyone stock in their home bar?

For Liquors why not have something local? Old harbor distilling and you and yours distilling have great products! A nice sauvignon blanc, a nice chianti, Chartreuse, Giffard's Brand, like Marie Kondo asks "Does it spark joy?" Besides bar books, vintage glassware.

What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

If everyone was required to work in the service industry for at least 2 months some guests would be a little more understanding. I think it is most frustrating when you tell people you bartend and then they are like what else are you doing? In 2019 besides brand ambassador jobs there are plenty of career furthering opportunities out. I want to tell them that a lot of bartenders go on to opening up their own bars, and that there are courses one can take that can cost 5,000+ such a BAR-5 PROGRAM, and USBG program, as well as sommelier and cicerone. People are always going to want to drink do a little research RESPECT THE CRAFT.

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

I play xbox one, and binge watch shows on Netflix and HULU, attend F45 classes, go on hikes, attend comedy shows, and concerts.

What's next for you?

Continuing to spread Gaz Regan's mindful bartending approach, a lot more competitions (most recent was Herradura Legends regionals and Rock The Tins beer cocktail competition), continuing to have the best of both worlds working at McFadden's and ILLUSION'S. Visit more bars in San Diego, some photoshoots, and being an I instrument of change.

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