Behind the Stick with Sean Ward of Nolita Hall
Our friend Sean Ward of Nolita Hall shows us how to make their refreshing cocktail called “Still Summer Somewhere" while chatting about his start in the bartending industry.
What's the story behind the Still Summer Somewhere?
To quote Daniel Tosh “People say California doesn't have any seasons they need seasons. That is why I live somewhere that skips all the shity ones.” San DIego has one of the best Climates in the world. Just because it's January doesn't mean it can't be a beautiful sunny day. When the winter menu came out we wanted to still have a refreshing option. It's Still summer somewhere embraces the fact that we live in such a beautiful city.
.25 oz lemon juice
1 oz strawberry shrub
1 oz Cynar
1.5 oz Gin
If you had to pair this cocktail with a dish, what would you pair it with?
I think our Old School Pizza would pair perfectly with this cocktail. Light tart lemon flavor with the saltiness of Prosciutto and the peppery flavor of arugula which compliment the Rucolino in the drink
What kind of experience can guests get at Nolita Hall?
The other day I finally enjoyed the bar as a patron, I was able to experience the bar from the guests perspective. A group of newly 21 aged kids came up to the bar and immediately asked for a type of tequila we didn't offer. Curtis Woods our bar manager was working at the time and offered a better substitute. Even though they ordered the tequila to shoot, the way he sold them on this particular tequila they were sipping it as if it were an extra anejo. Long story short Nolita is welcoming and casual, leaves the guest leaving with an elevated palate. Combining service and knowledge, creating a heightened experience in an unpretentious way.
About Sean Ward
Are you from San Diego?
I am originally from Central Ca, Bakersfield to be exact, where the most craft cocktail is an electric blue lemonade from Applebees. I was in the Coast Guard, and stationed in Hawaii, Alaska, and then my final duty station was here in San Diego.
How has your journey been leading up to your role at Nolita Hall?
Humbling but a long time coming, I am able to work with some of the most talented bartenders in San Diego. I have learned so much. I am relatively new to the cocktail game and it started with a Mai Tai Foam at OBSL. I won a margarita competition and was on the front cover of a local SD magazine. I stayed humble but secretly craved the publicity and attention. Nolita gave me the tools to be creative elevate my cocktail game and work with extremely knowledgeable bartenders
Define the perfect cocktail.
Something that surprises me. I have had many cocktails and expect a certain flavor when ordering a specific cocktail. I am always searching for new cocktail combinations that surprise me, Perhaps two flavors that unexpectedly work together in a way that opens up possibilities
What are some cocktail trends you are noticing in San Diego?
Bitter Elements like the Amaros being used at Nolita. Tiki Drinks which I am a fan of. I think rum is the most overlooked cocktail ingredient and I am a Pirate. Smoky flavors like mezcal and scotch.
What's your favorite drink to make behind the bar?
My go to is an agave based cocktail. Kind of variation of a Naked and Famous, but I like using a .25 ounce of orgeat to sweeten it up a little bit. Bitterness of aperol and the complexity of chartruesse, the smokiness of Mezcal. Such a great combination of flavors I like to add orgeat to make it more palatable for the non experienced of cocktail drinkers.
What's your favorite spirit?
Rum, Rum, and more Rum. Funny story, I was with my brother and older friend celebrating my 21st birthday in Las Vegas. My first Legal shot was, by my own choosing, a shot of well rum. I had no Idea what the hell I was doing. My brother, friend, and even the Waitress chuckled. My friend teased and made fun of my choice asking if I was a pirate making my first port call. Ten years later the same friend makes it an ongoing joke by ordering me a rum cocktail without my consent everywhere we go. Naturally I developed a taste for it.
What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?
I love exploring this city, It honestly never ceases to amaze me. I like surfing although it been a long time since I have been in the water, definitely need some salt water healing soon. But overall getting inspiration from everyone and anything, for being creative and unique where my outlet is in creating cocktails
What's next for you?
I have made it a recent goal of mine to bring all the best bartenders together in San Diego. This city is at such a great turning point where the craft is being elevated to compete with more metropolitan areas like San Francisco, but we are such a small tight knit community. I want to make it where all the best minds are getting together to grow and and learn feeding off each other before it become too competitive and uppity. Stay Classy San Diego.
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