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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

Behind the Stick with Eli Larios of 619 Spirits

Eli Larios, former bar manager at 619 Spirits in North Park, was able to craft up one of her favorite creations before moving to New Orleans to pursue other opportunities.

This is the “Thai Me Up” cocktail. Made with curry powder, lime juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, pineapple juice, 619 Scorpion Pepper Vodka and garnished with a lime wedge, lime leaf and a star anise. Cheers!

About Eli Larios

Are you from San Diego?

I am originally from Los Angeles.

How has your journey been leading up to your role at 619 Spirits?

My journey started at The Rail with promoting for an event held on Friday nights geared mainly towards women. I eventually was asked to join the staff as a barback and then moved on to bartending when two bartenders, Twan Dallas and Julian Rosado, helped train me for the role. I became hooked on the art behind creating well balanced, classic cocktails. From there, I expanded my knowledge base to incorporate more of a craft cocktail focus. I began a cocktail program at The Rail and when the opportunity arose to expand my cocktail knowledge at 619 Spirits, I jumped at the chance. 619 Spirits features locally made spirits and liquors so I was given a chance to showcase such an interesting variety of brands.

What's your mission for the cocktail program?

My mission for the cocktail program at 619 Spirits is to create cocktails that introduce consumers to new spirits and new ways to incorporate them. We take a lot of pride in showcasing San Diego and all it has to offer.

What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?

My favorite cocktail on our current menu is The Mint Chip featuring Stillhouse Mint Chip Whiskey. More of a dessert drink or brunch cocktail, it's a sweet blend of Mint Chip Whiskey, Frangelico, Orgeat, and heavy cream. Boozy enough to satisfy any drinker, the lingering flavor of mint tantalizes the taste buds. Try it with our Coffee and Doughnuts during brunch!

Define the perfect cocktail.

My favorite cocktail on our current menu is the Cucumber Martini. It's light and refreshing while showing off our Cucumber infused Vodka. ​

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

I've noticed that San Diego is currently experiencing a revival in certain cocktail trends. Fresh ingredients are becoming more of a staple and a concentrated effort is being made to be more sustainable in crafting cocktails. Another trend that’s emerging is a love affair with Mezcals, helped thoroughly by the passionate people behind the brands.

What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?

Bartending is an art and a skill set. It's so much more than putting some ingredients in a glass. Good bartenders are passionate and strive to make each individual love their drink every time.

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

I love making every cocktail asked of me but my favorite cocktail to make is one that caters to the individual. I love being asked to surprise someone. When given free rein to create something unique for one person, I love being able to tailor tastes and watch the customer's eye light up when trying a cocktail specifically designed with them in mind.

What's your favorite spirit?

My personal favorite spirit is Whiskey. I love the variety and differences available and the subtle nuances in each batching by a brand.

What's next for you?

The next step for me is to absorb as much knowledge as I can. I firmly believe there are endless possibilities with creating beautiful craft cocktails. You may catch me in a couple of bartending competitions pretty soon though!

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

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