Welcome to Industry Dish, a new bi-weekly feature for Eater San Diego. In this space, our town's restaurant and bar pros will weigh in on their favorite eats and drinks, give their thoughts on local trends and talk about what it's like to work in the San Diego community. In this installment, we catch up with Jason O'Bryan, head bartender at the Gaslamp's new GANG Kitchen and URBN Coal Fired Pizza in North Park. Know an industry pro who wants to do some sharing? Let us know.[Jason O'Bryan, courtesy photo]
What's your favorite drink on your menu right now and why?
My favorite right now has to be the East Asian Tonic at GANG. It was the hardest to get right, and the most satisfying once I did. It's a great aperitif cocktail, something like 8 different ingredients resting on each other in delicate balance, which we carbonate and bottle ourselves. It's incredibly laborious to prepare, but that's all before the doors open. Once it's ordered, all we have to do pop the top.
Where do you like to eat and drink when you're off the clock?
The last profoundly good meal I had was ordering omakase (chef's whim) at Hane Sushi on 5th. As for drinks, I think the guys at Prohibition have the perfect blend of expertise and irreverence. Their drink, Some Sweet Chin Music (Cynar, Bourbon, Benedictine, salt), is particularly amazing.
Anything that you're "over", in terms of played-out bar trends or cocktail ingredients?
Pretense, in any of its forms. I think people are starting to realize that waxed mustaches, arm garters, and secret doors are requisite for neither the creation nor the enjoyment of a well-made drink. That's one of the things I love about URBN and GANG. We make great cocktails even though some of us don't even have mustaches.
Do you have a wish or request for the San Diego bar scene or local drinkers?
For the love of God, please don't flag me down on a busy night only to stare blankly at the menu when I get there. I'll take an order or answer a question, but I won't just stand there like an idiot while you wonder aloud if a mojito has too many calories.
What makes bartending in San Diego different than other cities you've worked in?
San Diegans love mules. They're down with whiskey but seem to have a chronic fear of gin. Aside from that, it's more or less the same as anywhere else, except when people say things like "can you believe this weather?", they mean it in a good way.
How is San Diego unique as far as the bar community?
The cocktail community is still new here, and we all more or less know each other, and it's all still very exciting. San Diego is still an up and coming cocktail city, and it's pretty cool to be a small brick in that foundation.
· Gang Kitchen [Official Site]
· URBN Coal Fired Pizza [Official Site]