If it weren't for one fateful late-night conversation with a regular when he was still just a bartender, Sidecar Cocktail Co. owner Josh Christensen may never have become one of the top purveyors of cocktails on California's central coast.
Christensen had been bartending at San Luis Obispo's Sidecar Cocktail Co. and was seriously considering joining the police academy—that is, until the night a customer walked in, tried one of Christensen's concoctions, and convinced him he should open a bar of his own. So it was that, by 2013, Christensen had purchased a stake in the bar; and it wasn't long before he fully bought out the previous owners.
Christensen got his start in mixology after graduating from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, when he moved down to Austin, Texas, and logged time as a bartender at beloved Lustre Pearl, the bar largely credited with invigorating that city's vibrant cocktail scene. While he enjoyed Austin, he found himself eager to return to San Luis Obispo. "It's an area known so much for wine, and now a really burgeoning beer scene as well," he says, "but I think in the not-too-distant future people are really going to view it as a place that's got a really great distilling scene, too."
Christensen takes great care to ensure that most of what he carries comes from smaller distilleries and producers. "I carry as much local stuff as I can," he says, "and we're fortunate—it feels like we've got distilleries jumping up every day now."
The Sidecar Cocktail Co. staff also go to great lengths to make as much of the additional cocktail ingredients as they can in-house, including nearly 20 syrups, four shrubs (beet, grapefruit-rosemary, orange, kimchi-miso), and a host of tinctures and tonics, employing ingredients ranging from schisandra berry to sarsaparilla to frankincense tincture. All of this comes in handy anytime someone orders the Bartender's Roulette (a.k.a. carte blanche for whomever is tending bar at the moment).
The Sidecar Cocktail Co. has a menu filled with drinks perfect for the summer—not the least of which is The Cure. See below to learn how to make this delightfully tangy concoction.
1¾ ounces blanco tequila (Sidecar Cocktail Co. uses Cimarrón)
1 ounce grapefruit-rosemary Shrub
½ ounce lime juice
How to Make It
Shake all ingredients with ice and then strain into a bucket glass over ice. Garnish with a charred sprig of rosemary!
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
the peels from one whole grapefruit
8 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized pot and place over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let the contents of the pot come down to room temperature. Pour all ingredients into a large mason jar, and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then strain the shrub through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and bottle. The shrub will keep for several months if refrigerated.
To see the full menu of delicious cocktails available at Sidecar Cocktail Co., visit sidecarcocktail.company.