Drinkers in the know may have already been to Saltbox to visit bartender Jen Queen since she took charge at the Hotel Palomar last month; tonight, the newly-elected head of the San Diego Bartender's Guild begins mixing her new cocktail list in the lobby bar.
Queen, a member of Queen-Conner-Ward Collective (curators of the cocktail programs at Gaijin and Puesto) has solo projects which include concocting the eminently drinkable vermouth at Monello and is known for crafting drinks with a culinary focus.
All of the 16 new drinks on her list contain at least one element that's housemade, from the rooibos tea-infused vodka in her boozy Arnold Palmer, called a John Daly, to the cinnamon back syrup that spices the Cinner's & Sage, a tiki-esque drink with gin and pineapple.
Among her versions of new classics is her twist on a penicillin cocktail, here called a Z-Pack, which blends scotch with nectarine coulis and a bracing dose of ginger puree and lemon; hers gets a float of sweet old vine zinfandel. Queen is also experimenting with different ice formats; her Eyes Wide is flavored and cooled with vanilla beans suspended in ice. The refreshingly dairy-free play on an espresso martini mixes the coffee with anejo tequila, curacao and Italian vermouth.
Look for Queen to start bringing in guest bartenders, and to launch a monthly tiki night in collaboration with Saltbox's kitchen, who will roast a whole pig to pair with her tropical drinks.
· Saltbox Dining & Drinking [Official Site]