San Diego resident bartender, Dustin Haarstad, places in Classic Cocktail Competition
San Diego’s resident bartender, Dustin Haarstad, has been creating delicious drinks along the west coast for 7 years now. Haarstad currently bartends at the lively Prohibition and URBN restaurants.
Haarstad made it to the top 10 in the 4 Orange Premium Vodka Annual Classic Cocktail Competition at the prestigious South Beach Food & Wine Festival, an event sponsored by the Food Network. While unfortunately he did not win the competition, his passion and skills for the field are apparent.
The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine is a national, star-studded, four-day destination event showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities.
During the competition Haarstad served his “Blind Tiger Buck Fizz” to a panel of top industry leaders, competing against nine other mixologists and bartenders from throughout the nation for a prize of $3,000 and extensive bragging rights. His recipe is a mix of 4 Orange Premium Vodka, orange flavors, ginger beer and egg whites, creating a delicious, creamy cocktail of flavors.
“I’m doing what I want to do in life,” said Haarstad. His passion for mixology is apparent, especially when he describes working 7 days a week as “retirement”. When asked about his skill and love of mixology, he says, “I blame it on passion; once I get into something… it’s borderline obsession”. Haarstad has maintained his obsession with the art of drinks over the years, as he moved from Seattle to San Diego about a year and a half ago.
Haarstad described Seattle as “an established cocktail scene,” whereas San Diego’s food and wine scene is “discovering its own identity” still. He is contributing to this scene with his new take on cocktail culture and history. Influenced by classic, pre-prohibition cocktails in an effort to maintain the history behind cocktails, Haarstad’s creation are inspired in a way that ensures they are delicious and innovative. Haarstad was trained by Murray Stenson, “a living legend in the field” while he worked his way through college by bartending.
Haarstad described his experience in Florida as amazing and unforgettable; “I look forward to visiting all of my new friends on the east coast.” The Festival was an “amazing production” and just “surreal to be on the beach surrounded by like-minded individuals”. Haarstad’s focus is on finding the underlying cause of the mixology art by learning as much history as possible, then continuing to create a new mixology culture. Haarstad was able to meet new people from all over the country and is looking forward to meeting up with them.
27 year-old Haarstad is already well on his way to becoming a legendary mixologist, co-founding Blind Tiger Cocktail Company with Jennifer Queen, and being a cocktail artist at Prohibition Cocktail and Lounge and URBN in San Diego. Both spots are happening and laid-back; Haarstad is at Prohibition on Wednesdays, mixing delicious cocktails in a cool setting. The Company offers a wide array of services such as beverage program consulting, staff trainings, educational seminars and private events. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
…so yet another perk to living in sunny (but lately cold) San Diego — Dustin Haarstad and the Blind Tiger Cocktail Company are here and ready to take the mixology scene by storm.