East Coast native, Hagan Schenck, has been the bar manager at Halcyon for almost a year and has been revamping the cocktail menu since. In this episode of 'Behind the Stick,' he shares the recipe for Rye Bubbles and chats about the San Diego & NYC cocktail scenes.
Rye Bubbles $14
1.50 oz. Bulleit Rye .75 oz. honey .75 oz. Canton Ginger .75 oz. lemon juice 5 Dashes Rhubarb Bitters Bruised mint Topped with champagne Garnished with lemon and mint
What's the story behind the Rye Bubbles?
This was actually a cocktail created by a previous bartender at the company. It feels as if it embodies her personality and attitude.
Describe the taste.
It's a light and refreshing cocktail with nice pungent aromatics. It also carries a nice root-like spice element that makes it very drinkable.
What's the key component of this drink?
I'd certainly say the Rhubarb bitters, they really come into play. They're that small little additive that just keeps you coming back for more.
What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?
Their first reaction definitely comes from its presentation and followed by the smell that's very engaging. People often say it finishes nicely with the taste of light citrus and the sweet nectar from the honey.
What's a good dish to pair with this cocktail?
From our menu, I'd certainly say the El Ray salad. It matches nicely with the avocado and my favorite, the cilantro jalapeño dressing... Perfect!
What kind of experience can guests get at Halcyon?
With the space we have, I'd say an all-around great one! From the open air concept to the lounge style seating all the way to fire pit, it's a place we're you can meet up and have a great time around great drinks and food!
About Hagan Schenck
Are you from San Diego?
I'm just another transplant from the north east. I moved here from NYC about eight months ago. And man, what a change!
What has your journey been like leading up to your current position at Halcyon?
Prior to Halcyon, I was cock-tailing all over the west side of Manhattan, even in Brooklyn and Central Park. I'm fortunate enough to have met a bunch of great influential friends along the way!
What's your favorite thing about bartending?
With bartending, you really get to open up your creative side. Also the ability to meet and interact with a lot of great people. All in all, it's the lifestyle that's really a joy to be apart of. You have to look at it in such a way that people are coming to you to have a great time. They confide in you to help them achieve that, starting with the drink you build for them!
What's your favorite spirit?
Gin, gin all the way. It's the perfect player in my eyes! It's rich, deep and complex in flavors. It can easily be transitioned to have bright citrus-influenced flavors! All around the way to go.
Define the perfect cocktail.
This all goes back to balance and how the cocktail is structured. It doesn't need to be super fancy or have a wild complexity. It should have that perfect blend to be enjoyable from the first to last sip! So for this, I'm going to the always reliable Negroni! It's all booze and a beautiful, equal three part drink, from start to finish.
How is the New York City cocktail scene?
Just like everywhere, it's ever-changing and adapting to what the market wants. But to keep it simple, the NYC scene really keeps its classics in check, with a few modifications but nothing crazy. Mostly keeping to the well-known cocktails such as Sazerac, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Old Fashion and even the fun ones such as Corpse Reviver, Julep and even traditional-style absinthe shots off the fountain.
What are some cocktail/spirit trends you're seeing in San Diego?
In San Diego, I've seen the mule scene come out of nowhere. Since I landed, I've ingested more ginger beer here than I have in my whole life, ha ha. But it's really wild to see the influence of all the fresh ingredients you can get your hands on all the time. And of course, the tiki scene is really starting to show its teeth which is always fun and a good time to be involved in. Most just have to beware the potency of a lot of those drinks, oh, also the fire! That can get dicey once you're a bit sauced.
What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?
I really do enjoy being active and working out. It always helps me to stay fresh and ready to go. Other than that, I'm an artist at heart. I love to create pencil portraits and also illustrative realism pieces. I'd say graphite and ink are my two main mediums!
What's next for you?
What I want to accomplish is really finding my place here in San Diego and developing a more in-depth understanding of the scene here. So far it's been a trip to have met so many great people in such a short time. I just want to keep myself motivated while climbing the ladder in this industry and see where it takes me!