Ryan Andrews is the beverage director of San Diego-based GBOD Hospitality Group and lead bartender at Prohibition.
Better Bartending: What was your first bartending job?
Ryan Andrews: My first bartending job was in San Francisco, about 12 years ago. at a Cajun party spot called PJ’s Oyster Bed.
BB: A recent menu at Prohibition was inspired by international travels. What were some of the cocktails and places they evoke?
RA: The Jesse Didn’t Die (spiced orange tea-infused gin, Pimm’s lemon and curaçao) and Sleepy Keech (Jägermeister, lemon, apple cider, R&D sarsaparilla bitters) were both based on a trip I took to Europe with a few local bartenders and Jägermeister. We went out there for Bar Convent Berlin, the biggest international bar and beverage trade show—it was a blast.
The Pink Chevy Convertible (Havana Club Añejo rum, lime, mint, caramelized pineapple and R&D smoked bitters) was based on a trip I took to Cuba with friends a few years back. There are others, like Sawadee, that are based on the travels of our other bartenders.
BB: For the new spring menu, the menu features cocktails inspired by different cities in California—what are some examples?
RA: The Don’t Look Starboard (dashi-infused Cutwater Old Grove gin, lemon, honey, ginger and sesame oil) was inspired by my time working as a divemaster in Monterey, CA, and a close call we had with a 12-ft.-long Great White shark.
Happy Little Trees (St. George Terroir gin, lime, forest-infused demerara and R&D smoked bitters) was inspired by all of the time that I spent around Lake Tahoe growing up. I found an essential oil made from the distillates of six different evergreen trees and their needles. This combined with my R&D smoked bitters (hickory, Applewood and mesquite) tastes and smells like being in the mountains.
BB: What are you looking at doing for Prohibition’s summer cocktail menu?
RA: The final menu of the “Regional Experiences” series will be inspired by the Prohibition team’s time in San Diego. It will feature many refreshing beach-worthy cocktails and also drinks inspired by America’s Finest City!
BB: You also serve as the beverage director for GBOD Hospitality Group, which operates Havana 1920, El Chingon and Mezé Greek Fusion restaurants. How do you create cocktails that fit each restaurants’ personality?
RA: I always look for ways that the bar and its offerings can to enhance the atmosphere, ambience and the food of the establishment. I start with a base idea and let the space and the vibe dictate how it evolves from there.
BB: You’re also a cofounder of R&D Bitters. What’s been the most popular flavor so far?
RA: Our flagship Aromatic #7 is by far our biggest seller, but our newest line (House, Smoke and Fire) have all been very well received and we’re excited to see what the rest of this year has in store. We have a line of Tiki-inspired liqueurs and a couple new bitters coming out later this year, including a Spicy Falernum, Allspice liqueur and Caribbean Jerk Bitters, which was inspired by a recent trip I took to Belize.