Behind the Stick with Faisal Asseri of Cloak & Petal
August 31, 2019
We went behind the stick with Faisal Asseri of Cloak & Petal. Faisal crafted up his Nobunaga’s Demise which is crafted with Pineapple Juice, Lemon Juice, Housemade Coconut Banana Puree, Plymouth Navy Strength Gin, Broker’s Gin, Midori Melon Liqueur and garnished with Pineapple frond, Orchid and Luxardo cherry.
.5 oz Plymouth Navy Strength Gin
1.5 oz Broker’s Gin
.5 oz Blue Curacao
1 oz Housemade Coconut Banana Puree
.75 oz Pineapple Juice
.75 oz Lemon Juice
Garnish with Pineapple frond, Orchid and Luxardo cherry, float ½ oz Midori over top
What's the story behind this cocktail?
It actually kinda started as a joke when we got a bottle of blue curacao delivered to us on accident. We had some Midori left over from a private party that requested a specific cocktail and I got to work on trying to figure out how to mix both of them. At the time, I was working on my new cocktail menu and thought it would be cool to make a really eye catching cocktail that would turn heads whenever it was ordered. The first version didn’t have any of the coco banana puree’ in it and it looked pretty cool, but needed something to really step it up. I added a bit in there and the end result was a tropical, blue paradise in a glass.
If you had to pair this cocktail with a dish, what would you pair it with?
Anything on the saltier side, fried foods like our chicken karaage tend to be a good contrast to the rich creaminess of the cocktail.
What makes the bar program unique?
We’re using a lot of Japanese ingredients, and I’m always trying to see what else I can bring in. Whether it be more Japanese spirits, produce for garnishes and infusions. I really want to bring the culture of Japan and it’s hospitality to our guests that visit. With our new cocktail menu, I opted for trying to introduce flavors of the far east into approachable cocktails for everyone. Togarashi-infused mezcal, melon liqueur, shiso, nigori sake, cherry blossom, etc.
What kind of experience can diners expect at Cloak & Petal?
Dining is a social experience, and that’s what we aim for at Cloak, we encourage our guests to order a bit of everything so they can share. There’s a beauty to Japanese restaurants that make people want to stay there for hours.
About Faisal Asseri
Are you from San Diego?
Yep, born and raised
How has your journey been leading up to your role at Cloak & Petal?
I started working in restaurants when I was 18. At the time, I was drawn to the hustle & bustle of the Gaslamp and bartenders from nightclubs and bars around the area would come into the restaurant I worked at all the time for food before or after their shift. I thought, “man I really want to bartend one day…” I got an opportunity to work with the talented guys over at Consortium Holdings and from there I worked at a handful of their locations. I got the chance to open up Ironside Fish & Oyster and that was my first barbacking position. Afterwards, I managed and bartended at Soda & Swine Liberty Station for a couple years before deciding it was time to focus purely on bartending. I loved the managing aspect of running a floor but I found my passion to be behind a bar to be a lot stronger than managing. My buddy convinced me to apply to Cloak & Petal as a part time bartender and I got hired on. I worked there for 3 months, and in that time, I would make myself available to help out wherever I could. The owners approached me with the opportunity to manage the bar and I took a huge leap and said yes. In this time, I’ve learned so much, not only from a business side of things, but a lot about myself personally. It’s truly a humbling experience and I would never take it back.
Who are some of your mentors in the bartending community?
Man, the first person to come to mind would be Leigh Lecap of Campfire and Jeune Et Jolie. He was my bar manager at Craft & Commerce and Ironside. I would watch him work and interact with guests and I was instantly drawn to trying to learn from him. It was like watching your favorite baseball player step up to base. He was incredible to work for, and was tough when he needed to be. He brought me back down when I thought I knew everything and really convinced me to put my head down, listen and always be learning.
Stephen Kurpinsky of Hundred Proof has been really helpful especially with my bar manager position. His passion for the industry and hospitality are truly spectacular. There’s been times where I would feel that I was doing everything wrong and he’d have the answer for me. He’s got such a vast knowledge of spirits and cocktails that I only hope I can one day be as educated as him.
What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?
I’d have to say the Nobunaga’s Demise. It looks great, it’s got blue curacao AND Midori, and, man oh man does it taste great.
Define the perfect cocktail.
The perfect cocktail to me is, it’s kind of hard to describe but it’s any cocktail that someone makes for you that just brings you joy. It could be a highball at Seven Grand after a long shift, or a variation from the talented folks over at Noble Experiment. It’s whatever a bartender is working on that they want to share with you, or it could be a Manhattan. Because, favorite.
What are some cocktail trends you are noticing in San Diego?
Sustainability, eco-friendliness, a lot of bars are hosting educational seminars now that are inviting not only other bartenders, but enthusiasts. It’s really awesome.
What's your favorite drink to make behind the bar?
It’d have to be between an Eastside Rickey, or a Manhattan.
What's your favorite spirit?
Whisky. All kinds.
What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?
It’s not this crazy party all the time. It requires a genuine passion to serve and provide hospitality. It’s a position that really requires you to be flexible and willing to put your ego aside and learn from those around you.
What should everyone stock in their home bar?
A good whisky to sip on.
What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?
Spending time with friends, visiting other bartenders at work. I’ve got a stack of books that I’ve been trying to get through lately. Finding a nice spot to grab a coffee, put some music on and just diving into books on Japanese whisky has been really relaxing.
What's next for you?
There’s still a lot for me to do at Cloak & Petal. I’ve finally got my own menu and I think that’s the first step in furthering my career. Down the road I’d love to eventually spend some time in Japan, really take in the culture & hospitality with the hopes of bringing that back to San Diego and possibly open my own concept.