While the rest of the Señor Bear restaurant team went to Peru to study food, barman Shawn Williams (formally of Sarto's and El Diablo) hit up Nicaragua and Cuba to garner some cocktail inspiration for the soon-to-open Highland restaurant. His takeaway? Rum — lots of rum — as well as a bit of Central American style and a cache of island-themed recipes ready for when the group behind Bar Dough and Highland Tap & Burger open the venue at 3301 Tejon Street this April.
"The way of life is so different in those countries. They really have an ownership of what they are doing," says Williams, talking about the drinks and spirits he sampled abroad. "You could taste the quality of the spirit, and, it might be in my head, but you could taste the love and work that went into it."
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That emotion and care is exactly what Williams plans to pour into his drinks. The menu will consist of a list of about twenty rums selected by Williams himself, the same amount of tequila and a few bottles of pisco, a Peruvian spirit made from grapes. The latter is perhaps the most unusual part of Señor Bear's cocktail program, given the spirit's rarity and lack of hype here in the U.S. While the restaurant will import some pisco from Peru, it has also teamed up with Jack Rabbit Hill on Colorado's Western Slope to make its own brand of the stuff. In fact, Williams has a trip to the Hotchkiss distillery and winery in the works with his co-workers to sample the product and discuss future production.
Once Señor Bear opens, try the pisco in a traditional pisco sour, a creamy and refreshing drink made with egg white, lemon and sugar. Guests will also get to sip samples of Williams's research in the form of a magenta-hued prickly-pear margarita and a traditional daiquiri made with light and dark rums. The cocktail menu will feature around twelve to fifteen specialty drinks as well as some classic tipples. The barman is also excited at the prospect of a frozen-drink machine, the perfect tool for making Señor Bear a sweet spot for summer imbibing.