Each month we feature an Apron Ace. If you love your Chef Works apron and wear it outside of the traditional kitchen setting – makeup artist, potter, florist, barista – we want to know! To be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictured above is our November Apron Ace, Christian Siglin, photographed last month at WASTED: A Celebration of Sustainable Food in San Diego wearing his Berkeley Apron.
Mixologist Christian Siglin follows a rudimentary tack with his cocktails and bar environment: “Simplicity — executed well — and done in a casual, fun environment.”
That doctrine paid off for him last month when he took home the title of Top Mixologist at WASTED: A Celebration of Sustainable Food. The event, sponsored by Chef Works to benefit Kitchens for Good, drew more than 250 guests who voted on the best savory dish, desert and cocktail containing ingredients that would otherwise be discarded.
The veteran bartender of the San Diego area took some time to chat with the Chef Works Blog about the inspiration behind his winning drink, his new restaurant Fernside and why he loves his Berkeley Apron!
Tell us about your winning cocktail and the inspiration behind it.
Christian Siglin: It was a Tepache Highball. It was actually a drink that I put on the menu at El Jardin. Everywhere I’ve been – including Fernside – we always make sure we’re mixing with freshly-squeezed juices. So you have the fresh-squeezed pineapple juice. Then we took the skin and pulp from the leftover pineapples, fermented it with some piloncillo sugar, brown sugar and water. Then we added a couple of things from the kitchen – some leftover mint, some jalapeño stems – to add a little more depth and complexity. Then it’s lime juice and tequila. It’s super, super simple. I was a little surprised that I won, but I’m glad everyone liked it.
How did you get started in mixology?
CS: I had no idea this is what I was going to be doing for a living. I had bartended forever and I was always interested in finding creative ways to make drinks taste better. Around 2007 I had taken a few trips to Arizona, New York and San Francisco and was visiting bars and watching some of these guys make drinks in ways I’d never seen before. It really opened my eyes to what I didn’t know. From there it snowballed and here I am today.
What does mixology mean to you?
CS: I think that’s a two-prong answer. Mixology is the act of making drinks. To me, that’s the easier side of it. The bartender side is being hospitable, engaging and being able to multi-task. Making drinks is only one part of it. As for the mixology side, I would say technique and making sure you’re doing things consistently and accurately are the most important aspects. Being able to do that, at volume, under pressure, adds more to someone doing cocktails versus someone not doing cocktails.
Tell us about Fernside.
CS: We just opened [in September]. I was looking at the space with a few other people in town and Shane Gerde and I went in together as the two on-site partners. It has a really fun, corner-hangout kind of feel. He’ll handle the beer side of it and I’ll handle all of the cocktails, spirits and wines – and probably all of the bartending for the foreseeable future. But when you’re involved in a restaurant, you really end up doing a little bit of everything at some point.
Why do you love your Chef Works Berkeley Apron?
CS: It’s super comfortable. I really like the elastic suspender straps. Having a cross-back apron is huge for me because that means I don’t need to be wearing a collar. It’s really comfortable and really user-friendly.