Bartender Hall of Fame: Jose Reyes, Black Magic Bartender
Jose Reyes: Black Magic Bartender
“A fresh mind creates a fresh cocktail …”
… says Jose, who prefers to swing by the kitchen on his way to his bar. Because, no matter what style of drink he’s asked to whip up, he finds a way to focus its flavors with whatever’s fresh right now.
[See below for his ridiculously delicious Tahoe Cosmic Crush!]
Jose attributes his creative-yet-systematic, traditional-yet-fresh, all-about-the-taste-buds style to a career marked by diversity and balance. And as he enters his tenth year of slingin’ drinks, it’s in these last four at North Carson’s San Marcos Grill that he’s found the bartending gig of his dreams … sometimes literally.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night and think of different things I can do to classic cocktails,” Jose explains, “both to appeal to our guests’ tastes and to pair with our cuisine. It’s usually all of a sudden like, ‘YES! That’s it! I’ll mix ancho chiles, poblano, and … hmmm … how about fresh pomegranate seeds for the base of this margarita or martini?’” Then he gets to work.
Jose loves infusing spirits with spices and fresh ingredients to create some seriously great tastes. Even when it requires him to go to some seriously great lengths.
For instance. Once, while working at Maria Maria–a swanky Bay Area joint owned by Carlos Santana–a group of five came in … including the famous guitarist himself. Immediately, the manager rushed to change the music, set the lighting, ran into the kitchen and asked, frantically, “DO YOU HAVE ANY FRESH MINT?” Jose knew he didn’t; he’d used it all up the day before. “Also, you gotta take Santana. The server’s on break.” Jose approached the celebrity’s table, greeted them, and asked this group for their drink orders … dreading their orders. “Two Clase Azul margaritas … and THREE fresh mojitos, please.”
“Right away, Mr. Santana,” Jose replied, before sprinting out of the restaurant and down the street to a supermarket, returning with an entire mint plant. Good thing he did, too; Santana loved those perfectly-executed mojitos … and ordered two more.
OK, so maybe that’s less “black magic” and more “just good bartending.” But (A) Santana never wrote a song about “just good bartending” (B) if he had, that would’ve been a way less fun thing to call Jose and (C) just thinking about the Jose’s recipe below is making us thirsty, so the dude’s got some power. See for yourself!
“Keep working, my friends.”
Jose Reyes’ Tahoe Cosmo Crush
Stuff You’ll Need:
- 1.5 oz Tahoe Blue Vodka
- 1/2 oz Villa Massa Liqueur
- 1 tsp homemade cranberry-pomegranate mash (ingredients below)
- 1/2 tsp Agave nectar (light)
- 1 tsp pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 lime (juiced)
- 1/2 orange (juiced)
What You’ll Do:
In pint glass add pomegranate seeds and muddle. Fill pint with ice. Add rest of ingredients. Shake vigorously. Double strain content into chilled martini glass. Squeeze orange oils to coat surface, garnish with lemon or lime boat wheel (fill boat with pomegranate seeds) and serve!
More of Jose Reyes expert concoctions: