I’m hunting for an inspired cocktail in North County San Diego. Lucky for me, our community is filled with talented bartenders who can inspire me to level up my imbibing habits. So I’ve contacted local mixologists to find out what the professionals can offer.
This week, I checked in with Colin Berger at Rare Society in Solana Beach.
Bartender Name: Colin Berger
Years bartending: Very long time
Hometown: New York
Venue name: Rare Society (Solana Beach)
Cocktail Name: Rare Old Fashioned
Cheers!: What are the key Ingredients?
Colin: Rare Society’s signature Old Fashioned involves a dry-aged, fat-washed Bourbon, rosemary citrus oleo saccharum, and gentian bitters. [The drink] is garnished with charred rosemary, crispy bacon, Iberico Lardo (cured pork fat), and a Wagyu-bourbon cherry.
For the bourbon, the bar team renders dry-aged fat trimmings from the steaks, incorporating it into the bourbon. The process takes nearly 40 days, and the result is a primal spirit, transforming what otherwise would be a familiar experience into something utterly extraordinary.
The garnish is truly a work of art. A rosemary sprig is stripped almost completely clean (save for the tip), charred, and skewered with crispy bacon from The Wise Ox and thinly-sliced Iberico Lardo. An Amarena cherry soaked in Wagyu bourbon adds a quick hit of sweetness to the drink.
Cheers!: How would you describe the cocktail?
Colin: Our Old Fashioned is a representation of all the things we do in the restaurant—a meat-eater’s old fashioned if there ever was one. [It is a] balanced and nuanced take on a steakhouse staple.
Cheers!: What inspired it?
Colin: This cocktail draws from the bold and unique flavors that define Rare Society. While concocting our signature cocktail, I kept finding myself staring at the dry ager in our dining room. By using our house dry-aged beef to fat-wash bourbon and rosemary oleo as a sweetener for the cocktail, we are mirroring the flavors of our herb-brushed, wood-fired, dry-aged beef.
Cheers!: What does it pair well with?
Colin: The obvious answer would be steak. And it certainly pairs well with the food that inspired it. However, I believe this cocktail should be your first sip when sitting down for dinner. The garnish works as an amuse bouche to prepare the palate for all the decadent flavors to follow, and the cocktail itself is deserving of your full attention.
Take a big sip, then dip the smoldering garnish in the cocktail before devouring it. My favorite sip is the one immediately following the first bite of garnish.
Cheers!: What’s the best thing about bartending at Rare Society?
Colin: Bartending at Rare Society is like few other bar gigs in the industry. [It is] equal parts craft cocktail bartending and high-end food service. There is nary a dull moment at any of our locations.
Cheers!: What’s one thing readers should know about you?
Colin: Given the opportunity, I will talk about American whiskey until I am blue in the face. It is both my favorite thing to drink and discuss. If I am doing both simultaneously, I am truly in my happy place.
Cheers!: Anything else you’d like to share about the cocktail or venue?
Colin: Rare Society is a great bar to sit at; whether you are popping in for a quick old-fashioned or joining us for the full dining experience, the bartop is the best seat in the house. You find yourself having a great conversation with our very talented bar team while taking in the entirety of the space. Stop by and have a cocktail when you have a chance — it won’t be your last.
Stay tuned to Rare Society on Instagram @aresocietysteakhouse, or visit www.raresociety.com to make a reservation or review their menu. Visit Colin at Rare Society at 330 South Cedros in Solana Beach. Restaurant hours are Wednesday through Monday from 5:00 – Close. Rare Society also has locations in Santa Barbara and University Heights (San Diego). In addition, a new location in Mill Creek is on the horizon.
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