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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Ali Jannace of The Whiskey House

Hosting over 2,500 diverse whiskeys, The Whiskey House in downtown San Diego has officially earned the coveted title of the #1 Whiskey Collection in the world! If you haven’t been, swing by and check out the collection. I had the opportunity to film the Manhattan No. 6 (The Perfect One) with our friend Ali Jannace. This variation is crafted with Larceny Bourbon, Carpano Antica, Lillet Blanc and T.W.H Coffee Bitters.

The Perfect One

This variation is crafted with Larceny Bourbon, Carpano Antica, Lillet Blanc and T.W.H Coffee Bitters.

What's unique about the Manhattan cocktail at The Whiskey House?

This cocktail is a take on A Perfect Manhattan, traditionally served using whiskey, sweet & dry vermouth, & bitter- We swap the vermouth and use lillet blanc & house made coffee bitters which gives it a more elegant brightness and complex bitterness.

Describe the taste.

Bright cherry with coffee undertones

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

I enjoy this cocktail with our house cured salami, bucherone goat cheese and fig jam

What kind of experience can guests get at The Whiskey House?

The Whiskey House is a great place for any gathering. We host happy hours, large events, convention gatherings, date nights and other celebrations. You can expect to walk into an overwhelming selection of whiskey but be greeted with approachable friendly service that can either guide you through our whiskey list or engage in neighborhood banter. Whiskey House is filled with daily local regulars, industry folk, first dates, business meetings, and Padres fans.

About Ali Jannace

Are you from San Diego?

I grew up in LA, lived in San Francisco for 5 years and moved to San Diego 2 years ago.

How has your journey been leading up to your role at The Whiskey House?

My hospitality experience has been a ten year long journey working from everything from corporate, small family owned, and fine dinning.

After moving to SF I started my management experience at The Barrel House as a bar manager, which is where I got my first taste of fine dinning and California Contemporary cuisine. I also received my WSET certificate for wine somme, & spirit master there. After leaving Barrel House I took another bar manager position at 25 Lusk where I really got my knowledge for fine dinning and classic French cuisine.

There I was able to expand on wines, spirits, and sustainable local food, as well as service standards. Each place has taught me so much, and so many different ways to do things. I really enjoy The Whiskey House because it allows me to dive deep with spirit knowledge, but also is a fun service based place that allows me to engage more personally with guests. We have tons of regulars that have become good friends to all of the staff and a food program that matches the environment.

Define the perfect cocktail.

My perfect cocktail is the cocktail that enhances the experience you are having. However, I often find that an Aperol Spritz is the perfect cocktail for any occasion!

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

San Diego's food and beverage programs have really changed in the last couple years- moving from large production tourist based programs to finding their voice in the industry with creative small batched thoughtful cocktails. A lot of beverage programs are still focusing on classic cocktail styles with a twist (like our perfect manhattan) but they are keeping it fun and playful.

I think the next trend will be moving away from these prohibition era spirit forward cocktails that take 10 minutes to make and start doing some fun 90's style cocktails, hopefully with using some better ingredients. But honestly I still think Blue Curacao belongs in all bars!

What's one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

I don't need people to understand bartending, or that drinks may take a long time, or that bartending a 10 hour shift is exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally. I don't need them to understand that me and my co workers may or may not all have college degrees but we chose this career path instead because we enjoy it (and make more money with more spare time to travel and enjoy our lives) The only thing I would like for people to understand is general kindness & patience. We are also people that can have an off day or make mistakes, we want to create an awesome experience for you and if we mess up you should tell us instead of leaving unhappy. And that a Please & Thank you goes a very long way.

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

My favorite drink to make is the one that will surprise the guest. With either using a spirit they are not familiar with or think they don't like. I like to make drinks that will educate the guest and that pairs well with what they are eating or how they are feeling. I often lean on spirits like Gin and Green Chartreuse as they can both be surprising and adaptable.

What's your favorite spirit?

I should say Whiskey.... but also Gin & Mezcal.

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

Just the normal San Diego basics: Hang out with my two pups, Roland

(mastiff) and Xander (English Bull dog), beach things, rollerblade, check out new bars & restaurants, podcasting and travel.

What's next for you?

Last year I was working on a bar & restaurant that unfortunately didn't pan out, so this year I am going to spend my time traveling, growing my restaurant knowledge and experience, keeping Whiskey House awesome, and next year work on opening my own place again.

For more Behind the Stick articles, click here for the archive.

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