December 2014 Bartender of the Month: Christian Siglin
Name: Christian Siglin
Current Position: Head Bartender at Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant
Recent Gigs: Christian Siglin mixes things up with beach vibes and specialty cocktails as bar manager at Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant. The San Diego native is known for creating innovative cocktails using global ingredients to pair perfectly with BANKERS HILL’s award-winning cuisine.
Siglin boasts more than 11 years of experience in the bar and hospitality industry and draws inspiration from his travels throughout the world. Prior to Bankers Hill, Siglin most recently served as the bar manager at Craft & Commerce, which was selected as one of Food & Wine’s “Top 50 Bars in the Country” in 2011 and earned the coveted spot on Tales of the Cocktail’s list of Top-10 Finalists for the 2012 Spirited Awards. He also played a key role in the opening of Noble Experiment, where he trained with and worked under two of New York’s most highly-regarded bartenders; Sam Ross (Milk & Honey, Attaboy) and Phil Ward (Mayahuel, Death & Co.).
Siglin was recently awarded Eater San Diego’s “2014 Bartender of the Year” award and has been featured nationally via AskMen.com, Chilled Magazine, Imbibe and others.
Why did you become a bartender?
It seemed like a great job. I could surf and go to school during the day and I could make money at night. I took a 5 year break from bartending when I thought I needed to get a "real job". After being miserable behind a desk, I started picking up bar shifts again for fun, then I had the chance to work at Noble Experiment and learn from one of the best, Sam Ross (Attaboy). I ended up quitting my day job and became a bartender full-time and I haven't looked back.
What are some fun flavors you’re working with?
Being from San Diego, I love incorporating a lot of Tiki inspired flavors into classic cocktails. I love using teas in cocktails and my favorite lately is infusing passion fruit tea into Campari.
What are you doing different from the norm in your beverages?
I try not to reinvent the wheel with my cocktails as I have a deep respect for the classics. There is something to be said for drinks that have stood the test of time. However, the biggest thing for me is to make sure the cocktails are coming out as consistently as possible and I batch a lot of my drinks to take the guess work out of it for my bartenders.
What’s in the mixing glass or shaker for your customers?
I make subtle changes to my menu all the time, but I like using something familiar like Gin, Bourbon or Tequila and mixing it with something more obscure like Becherovka, Oloroso Sherry or some random liqueur. Luckily, I have some regulars that are very open minded and let me experiment on them.
What are you sipping on and why?
Since I make cocktails every day for a living, I usually crave a good cold beer. Aside from beer I find myself drinking quite a bit of Mezcal, Rum and shots of Cynar always seem make an appearance. I usually drink cocktails when I'm traveling to see what other people are doing and I always seem to get new ideas that I can hopefully incorporate into my bar.
What are you dancing to while mixing?
We always try to switch it up, but we seem to always put on Tribe Called Quest, Queen or some other random fun music. It makes for a better environment when the bartenders and guests are enjoying the music.
What are some quirks/quotes you are known for?
I am very particular about how I make drinks and I try to train my bartenders to be as detail oriented as I am. They probably hate me for it, but I try to push the people I work with to be as good as they can be while always thinking of ways to get better. When it comes to cocktails, I think the less is more philosophy is the best motto to follow.