Queensborough

San Diego Cocktail Lounge

Aiming to open next week, Queensborough is the Gaslamp’s newest bar and eatery. Set inside a 1920s-era building on Fifth Avenue, the project is from group of industry vets who include nightlife pros Shane Brennan (Omnia, Searsucker) and Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, Bang Bang) and designer Matthew Ellis (Juniper & Ivy, Kettner Exchange).

The sleek 1,800-square-foot cocktail bar and dining area, which includes a marble bar and tabletops, a vintage phone booth, subway turnstiles and a floor studded with subway token, is the first element of Queensborough’s two-story downtown drinking and dining destination. The final component, 6,000-square-foot subterranean lounge that has been described as a “nightclub alternative”, is scheduled to be unveiled next month.

Cur8eur: East Coast Styling In The Heart Of The Gaslamp

By: A Gal & Her Fork, Marie Daniels | October 13th, 2017

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I rarely prefer to go to a newly opened restaurant. Having been in the industry for so long, I do know that it takes time to fine tune things a bit once doors open and I feel it unfair to subconsciously rank a place in my mind before giving it a chance to get through the beta stage.

I was invited to Queensborough to check things out in an informal setting where I had a chance to chat with my bartender, the chef (Taylor Houseman), and partner (Mike Vizcarra). The new spot is beautiful and has kept much of the charm of the old building. OH THE STORIES that must be trapped in these walls!

It can be tricky finding the location’s entrances, as there are two. The lounge entrance is on Fifth Avenue and the restaurant entrance is next door to the William Penn on F Street. The high ceilings, marble and gold touches and beautifully lit bar are stunning. The design features alone make you covet the details for your own home.

THE PUZZLE

To be transparent, I was really excited to go check things out at Queensborough because I’ve worked with these guys before. I handled PR for COMÚN & their chef, Chad White (TOP CHEF contestant) when he was partnered with Queensborough partner Shane Brennan. The new Queensborough venture includes Mike Vizcarra who, along with Queensborough chef Taylor Houseman, also worked at COMÚN. I was curious to see what goodness they had created.

Though the lounge was not open, Partner Mike Vizcarra gave me a little tour below ground. With the absence of the music, light shows, chatter of people and clamoring of glassware, one could stand in near silence and feel the “oldness” of the underground space that extended under the above restaurant, old hotel lobby and brick sidewalk at the corner of Fifth & F. Details like the old elevator, bare brick walls and sunken bar floor make for a very special place. I’m told that in time, Queensborough will be adding live Jazz entertainment to the line up. I can see it and can’t wait!

Currently, musical talents are your typical expectations of DJ’s but what a place to play! The DJ area is a pretty good size here… for the entourage I suppose. 

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EAT & DRINK

I was curious to find out how young chef, Taylor Houseman would interpret food for the new concept and I was pleasantly surprised. Remember, I said I stopped in for an informal chat? Well, chatting means one might also snack and imbibe simultaneously, which I did.

Taylor sent out a lovely cheese board to start that included a Red Dragon Cheddar, Sheeplehorn Swiss and a Beamster Gouda that complemented the fun accoutrements such as the seasoned popcorn, nuts and compotes. TheAlbondigas, made of smoked pig head meatballs was well seasoned, moist and soft. A nice addition to the plates I shared with my host was the Chicken Board. The chicken board was a simple display of moist, brined chicken slices, house-made pickled vegetables, potatoes and more. The menu certainly lends itself for groups to share and enjoy a bit of everything.

My bartender (whose name escapes me) was not terribly busy at the moment of my visit since they had just opened the doors at 4pm, so I was grateful I could speak with her about her recommendations. One of the best take aways was the way to drink a Mint Julep. I told her that I have never liked the Mint Julep (though I love bourbon) because I always find them to be a bit too strong. She informed me that they are to be sipped AFTER allowing the ice to melt a bit which is meant to then create a perfectly balanced cocktail. (See the photo to the left.)

Since I needed to wait for a few minutes in order to properly enjoy my Mint Julep, I ordered the “I Only Do Brooklyn On the Weekends” which is a spiced whiskey and vermouth cocktail. This was my favorite especially since they didn’t skimp on the good cherries. Luxardo Maraschino’s are the only way to go in my book. #somethingsowrongwithflourescentcherries

I will return in the next few months so that I can experience their full menu… perhaps when they begin the Jazz series but for now, I can say I would definitely recommend a visit. Maybe someone could go and let me know how their boozy desserts are! I really wanted to try them but I just didn’t have the space available for it.  Cheers!

Modern Luxury: Big Apple Bites

By: Brandon Matzek | Photography by Tim Melideo | September 25th, 2017

Designer Matthew Ellis of Bluemotif Architecture brought the retro cocktail lounge to life.

Designer Matthew Ellis of Bluemotif Architecture brought the retro cocktail lounge to life.

A two-level, New York City-inspired bar and lounge opens in downtown San Diego.

AS YOU MAKE your way into the cocktail lounge and eatery at Queensborough—located on F Street in downtown San Diego—you’ll immediately take in an abundance of sophisticated details. Lofty ceilings are illuminated by chandeliers and gilded pendant lamps. Mosaic tile floors ground wingback chairs and tufted leather banquettes. A cozy back corner draws the eye with ornate ceiling tiles, exposed brick walls and shelves lined with old books. All are just the beginning of the enchanting eats and drinks you’ll soon be noshing on and imbibing from chef Taylor Houseman and cocktail consultant Travis Carter. Throw in owners Mike Vizcarra and Shane Brennan of Brethren Collective and you’ve got S.D.’s newest dream team.

Begin your evening at Queensborough with a cocktail and a series of handcrafted snacks like curry spiced bar nuts, chili-dusted popcorn and peach cobbler fruit leather. Chef Houseman switches up these sweet and savory treats on the daily, bringing seasonal sophistication to the humble bar snack. They’re perfect with one of Queensborough’s inventive yet approachable cocktails. The New Yorker pairs bacon fat-washed bourbon with lemon, Demerara sugar and cabernet sauvignon. An egg white shaken into the mix rounds out flavors while lightening the texture. Topped with a mound of shaved ice, the Matcha Julep is presented similar to a classic mint julep with the addition of housemade matcha green tea syrup.

For a more substantial starter, opt for the surf and turf sliders. Charred slices of rare hangar steak are topped with Schnebelhorn Swiss and fresh scallops painted with a vibrant chimichurri sauce—an irresistible combination of savory smoke and crisp ocean stacked between a buttery brioche bun. Queensborough’s golden fried Brussels sprouts arrive at the table amidst a mound of tasty rubble—crunchy bits of in-house pancetta, melting prosciutto, smoked asiago cheese and a dusting of vegetable ash. Swirls of balsamic reduction on top offer contrasting moments of sweet and tart and take the dish to heavenly new levels. 

Queensborough’s meat board featuring assorted seasonal meats and mustards, house nuts and fruit leathers ($16).

Queensborough’s meat board featuring assorted seasonal meats and mustards, house nuts and fruit leathers ($16).

Chef Houseman approaches his entrees at Queensborough similarly to the rest of the menu—bar classics with the volume turned way up. The Caesar starts with two halves of grilled romaine dabbed with a rich, anchovy-free dressing. On top, a flurry of smoked asiago and breadcrumbs infused with umami-rich bonito flakes add crunch. Finished with a dusting of black vegetable ash, the dish inspires future cravings that are sure to bring you back for more. Albondigas soup, a traditional Mexican dish, features supple meatballs made with house-smoked pig’s head and long-grain rice. Light yet robust, the accompanying broth floats tender bites of celery, chayote and rainbow carrot. The steak board is one of Queensborough’s shareable mains, and it’s a triumph. Slices of blushing dry-aged steak donning a crust of golden char are served with punchy pickles, chimichurri and a vibrant gremolata made with fresh horseradish, parsley, lemon and smoked sea salt. The salt-roasted potatoes on the side are tossed in a buttermilk-based sauce set ablaze with five different chilies.

If you’re more of a sugar addict than meat lover, try Queensborough’s cookies and booze milk. Dusted with celery sugar, the peanut butter cookie dunks like a dream in a chilled glass of housemade banana milk spiked with dark rum. The steel-cut oatmeal chocolate cookie, thin and lacy in texture, pairs well with chocolate milk and coffee liqueur. Cookie flavors change seasonally, and you can adjust flavored milk and booze combinations to taste.

After dinner, take the subway-esque stairway located in the middle of the space to Downtown, Queensborough’s 6,000-square-foot social club. This industrial-chic space offers a menu of unique libations along with a build-your-own cocktail program. These custom concoctions are built by the 5-liter barrel, aged four to six weeks, and then tapped for consumption­—think bottle service with a twist. How’s that for one-of-a-kind? Two thumbs all the way up.  

The New Yorker cocktail featuring bacon fat-washed Elijah Craig, lemon, Demerara, egg white and float of cabernet sauvignon ($12)

The New Yorker cocktail featuring bacon fat-washed Elijah Craig, lemon, Demerara, egg white and float of cabernet sauvignon ($12)

QUEENSBOROUGH
777 Fifth Ave., downtown S.D., 619.546.4995

Appetizers, $6-$16; entrees, $10-$26; dessert, $8-$10

Uptown: Tues.-Thurs., 4pm-midnight; Fri.-Sat., 4pm-2am
Downtown: Thurs.-Sat., 8pm-2am 

San Diego Magazine: First Look: Queensborough, Part 2

Underground 1920s NYC-style social club is now open

By: Troy Johnson | Photography By: Paul Body | Published: 2017.09.18 04:29 PM

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Two months ago, we showed you the first half of the ambitious Gaslamp project, Queensborough, an ode to 1920s cocktail culture from the Brethren Collective. Designed by Bluemotif Architecture’sMatthew Ellis (Cowboy Star, Kettner Exchange), it’s a classy throwback to F. Scott Fitzgerald romanticism. But the downstairs, deemed Downtown Queensborough, is even more elaborate, and is now open.

Here we’ve got the first photos of the 6,000 square-foot underground social club designed like an NYC subway with white tiled walls, subway-inspired signs, metro booth seats, a custom DJ booth, private whiskey lockers, full-service bar, roving cocktail cart, live jazz (starting in October, on Wednesdays), and build-your-own barrel-aged cocktail program. It’s a beauty. Take a gander. Queensborough, 777 Fifth Ave., queensboroughsd.com.

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Gaslamp Quarter Association: Gaslamp's New Queenborough Celebrates Its Grand Opening!

The “Queensborough” nightclub and bar had their grand opening last night on Fifth Ave. complete with searchlights, dapper gents, sophisticated ladies, and swanky cocktails.  The F street side of the venue has been open to the public for a few weeks, but last night marked the evening that the night club and fifth Ave. entrance was unveiled to the world!

Named for New York City’s largest borough, the sleek 1,800-square-foot cocktail bar and dining area, which includes a marble bar and tabletops, a vintage phone booth, subway turnstiles and a library of books, is the first element of Queensborough’s two-story downtown drinking and dining destination. The, 6,000-square-foot subterranean lounge was unveiled last night, with glitering chandeliers, and a swanky night club.

he Executive chef Taylor Houseman has put together a menu of casual, shareable plates ranging from smoked pig head meatballs with long grain rice, broth and mint crystals to surf and turf sliders that pair scallops with hanger steak.  Classic salads, and burgers are a standout for the entrees and the dessert menu is packed with goodness, like the warm cookies served with flavored milk spiked with booze. Upstairs and downstairs, its patrons will be able to order off this menu. Open starting at 4 p.m. daily, Queensborough’s craft cocktails include the The Big Apple, a mix of red apple-infused Elijah Craig, cinnamon and clove demerara syrup and Angostura bitters and the refreshing Matcha Julep made with Woodford Reserve Rye, matcha, syrup, mint and crushed ice.

The 1920s-era building, which will also house the incoming Tacos El Gordo, served as jumping off point for the design for the 1,800 square-foot street-level cocktail bar and dining room. With an entryway off F Street, the space includes a vintage phone booth-turned-photo booth from one of the owner’s cousin in Queens along with authentic subway turnstiles.  New York subway tokens are also set into the flooring of this hip bar. Mixed with swanky new elements, including diamond-tufted leather booths and custom-made suspended white marble tabletops, will be the original brick walls and brass fixtures of the site’s previous longterm tenant, Maloney’s Tavern.

This is definitely a place to come and experience a swanky cocktail, delectable bite, and dance the night away.  Guests can get reservations at reservations@queensboroughsd.com or call 619-546-4995.  Queensboroughhours are Tuesday through Saturday 4pm-Close and they are closed Sunday and Monday.

San Diego Eater: Queensborough Unveils 6,000-Square-Foot Underground Social Club

The Gaslamp cocktail bar has a luxe new companion

By: Candice Woo | Published: September 15th, 2017, 2:35pm PDT

Phillip Silverstein

Phillip Silverstein

The “downtown” companion to Queensborough’s “uptown” cocktail parlor is now welcoming drinkers into its subterranean 6,000 square-foot lounge which offers a fresh option for Gaslamp revelers. Continuing the 1920s New York City-theme of the upstairs cocktail bar, which launched in July, the just-opened downstairs social club is a sleek space designed by partner Matthew Ellis of Bluemotif Architecture (Juniper & Ivy, Crack Shack, Kettner Exchange) with white tiled walls, vintage mosaic subway signs and a white marble-topped bar.

Reservations are encouraged at Downtown Queensborough, open Thursday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until late night, which will also offer the menu created for the Uptown Queensborough space by executive chef/partner Taylor Houseman (Lionfish, Ironside Fish & Oyster). The venue has a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system for the visiting roster of DJs that will take the stage, and future entertainment options may also include a live jazz night.

Paul Body

Paul Body

Traditional bottle service will be available, as well as a dedicated list of classic craft cocktails, but a new feature that will rolling out soon is a build-your-own barrel aged cocktail option, developed by Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, Searsucker, Bang Bang), whose hospitality group Brethren Collective, co-founded with Shane Brennan (Holsem, Omnia, Stingaree, Searsucker) is part of the team behind the two-level space. Guests will be able to work with bar staff to customize a 5-liter barrel filled with a drink of their choosing, which will rest for four to six weeks before it is tapped for each party; prices will start at one hundred dollars and go up depending on the spirits used.

Pacific San Diego: Meet Your Bartender: Zack Ball

By: Michael Benninger | August 29th, 2017

Zack Ball from the new Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

Zack Ball from the new Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

Since bursting onto the scene in late July, filling the Fifth Avenue building that long housed Maloney’s Tavern, Queensborough Cocktail Lounge has been bringing a bite of the Big Apple to the Gaslamp.

Taking its name from the largest and easternmost of New York City’s five boroughs, the new two-level bar and lounge offers East Coast-inspired cocktails and shareable plates in an atmosphere that boasts a marble bar, plush leather booths and suspended tabletops among other high-end amenities. The addition of transit turnstiles, a subway token-studded floor and a vintage phone booth transformed into a photo booth further up the authenticity of this venue.

PACIFIC recently caught up with Queensborough’s bartender, Zack Ball, for a quick chat about working at the Gaslamp’s swanky new watering hole.

PACIFIC: Where are you from?

I was originally born in San Diego, but when I was 4, my family moved to Shelton, Washington, and I lived there until I moved back to San Diego seven years ago.

What neighborhood do you live in?

I’ve lived in Golden Hill for the past three years. I originally moved to the neighborhood due to its proximity to downtown, but after moving there, I realized it’s filled with a lot of friends I’ve made in the industry. It’s the perfect location to be close to my job and surrounded by like-minded individuals who share the same passion as me.

Zack Ball from the new Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

Zack Ball from the new Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

How did you get started in hospitality?

I got my start in the industry as a broke college student and applied for a summer job as a busser at Bleu Boheme in Kensington. I made some friends there who went on to work for Brian Malarkey (Searsucker, Herb & Wood) as he was opening up concepts all over the city, and I got a job at his former restaurant Gingham in La Mesa. The experience was exciting and challenging and eventually exposed me to bartenders Jen Queen (Juniper & Ivy, Searsucker), Ian Ward (Snake Oil Cocktail Co., Addison) and Lucian Connor (Snake Oil Cocktail Co., Puesto), who have each inspired me to pursue this as a career and helped me explore bartending as a creative passion.

Where else in S.D. have you worked?

Prior to Queensborough, I worked at Searsucker in the Gaslamp for five years. I was introduced to Brian Malarkey when I worked at Gingham and moved over to Searsucker. I had the opportunity to work as a corporate trainer for the brand and assist in the opening of his other locations, including Herringbone in San Diego, Searsucker in Las Vegas and Herringbone in Santa Monica. I’ve also done work with Ian Ward for Snake Oil Cocktails and chef Chad White’s former concept Común.

How did you land the job at Queensborough?

Owner Shane Brennan and I both worked at Hakkasan entities. I worked at Searsucker, and he was at Omnia. When he and Mike Vizcarra (managing partner at Queensborough) told me about this project and walked me through the building, I was immediately interested and wanted to be a part of it.

What’s your role at Queensborough?

As lead bartender, I assist in managing and executing the bar program at Queensborough. Because I have experience opening restaurants, I help train the staff and work on some operational duties as well. Opening restaurants is a team effort, and Shane and Mike have created a family environment here. I’m grateful to work alongside some of the best names in San Diego and deliver excellent cocktails to everyone who comes through the door.

How does Queensborough compare to other cocktail bars in the Gaslamp?

Not many bars have the energy and ambiance Queensborough has. You can feel it right when you walk in. It’s like being teleported to New York City — the cocktails are proper and the origins can be traced back to different boroughs of New York City. It sticks out downtown in the best way possible.

Zack Ball from the new Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

Zack Ball from the new Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

What’s your favorite thing about working at Queensborough?

The staff. Their passion is contagious; they keep me energized and alert. Even on a stressful day, they are guaranteed to put a smile on my face within seconds.

What are your favorite items on the food menu?

My favorite, by far, is the Surf & Turf Sliders with hanger steak and scallops, and the baked-to-order pretzels never let me down either. Chef Taylor Houseman (Común Kitchen & Tavern, Ironside Fish & Oyster) is a creative genius with the way he mixes unique ingredients.

What food/drink pairing do you recommend first-time visitors try?

The New Yorker cocktail, made with bacon fat, washed Elijah Craig, lemon, Demerara, egg white, with a flat cabernet Sauvignon at Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

Our kitchen and bar work side by side to play off of each other, so there are a ton of opportunities for pairings. My favorite is the Steak Board (dry-aged grilled N.Y. steak, seasonal vegetables, ash butter, chimichurri, horseradish gremolata, papas bravas) alongside the New Yorker cocktail (bacon fat-washed Elijah Craig bourbon, lemon, demerara, egg white, float Cabernet Sauvignon). And I always recommend a shot of Fernet.

What do you get into when you’re not working?

I love to try new bars and restaurants around town, go to concerts and go on day-trips to Mexico.

What’s the most important thing to you as a bartender?

I can make someone’s day by creating something they will enjoy or by giving them the opportunity to try something new, or simply being a listener to each guest that comes in.

Are you working on any long-term goals?

I’d love to create, own and manage my own project one day, but that’s far into the future. Right now, my focus is on the success of Queensborough, and I couldn’t be happier to have this opportunity.

Queensborough Cocktail Lounge: Open daily at 4 p.m., 777 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp, queensboroughsd.com

Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

Queensborough Cocktail Lounge in the Gaslamp. (Nancee E. Lewis)

San Diego Magazine: Queensborough Brings 1920s New York to the Gaslamp

The two-story cocktail lounge is serving elevated pub grub and NYC classics

By: Troy Johnson | Published 2017.08.29 11:01 AM

Photo: Paul Body

Photo: Paul Body

Who doesn’t romanticize 1920s New York? The Great Gatsby, the great cocktails. Now the Gaslamp has an ode to the Roaring ’20s in Queensborough, a two-story cocktail lounge and social club. Designer Matthew Ellis (Cowboy Star, Kettner Exchange) imported original subway tokens to build a floor element, separated the upstairs from downstairs with an original subway turnstile, and turned an old wooden phone booth into a photo booth.

Chef Taylor Houseman (ex-Lionfish, Ironside) is elevating pub grub (dry-aged meat boards, burgers, designer popcorns), and bartender Travis Carter is riffing on classic NYC gems (a “Matcha Julep” has Woodford Reserve, matcha syrup, and mint). It’s a welcome bit of geographic whiplash from a team of San Diego nightlife vets.

The Nardcast: Behind the Stick with Mike Vizcarra of Queensborough

By: Jarnard Sutton | August 25th, 2017

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Queensborough, a 1920s New York City-inspired cocktail lounge, is downtown’s newest destination brought to you by San Diego-based hospitality group Brethren Collective.  If you like the classic Negroni, then you're going to love this twist on the well-balanced cocktail.  Mike Vizcarra, managing partner, shares his take on the classic cocktail on Behind the Stick.

Negroni, My Way

$12

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1 oz Carpano Antica
1 oz St. George Bruto Americano
1 oz St. George Dry Rye Reposado Gin
Garnish: Orange Peel

Stirred and poured over 1 large cube from Penny Pound Ice

What's the story behind Negroni, My Way?  

My good friend and colleague Travis Carter (GM of Harvest by the Patio) came up with the name as an homage to Frank Sinatra who sang "New York, New York."

Describe the taste.  

Boozy yet balanced with big spice from the 100% rye, assertive bitterness from the Bruto Americano and sweetness from the Carpano Antica.

What's the key component of this drink?  

The St. George Dry Rye Reposado.  It's 99 proof, so it has some heat but those harsh edges of the spirit are rounded off since it's "rested" (reposado) in ex red wine barrels.  

What reactions are you expecting to get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?

A slight tweak to a familiar old friend.

If you had to pair this cocktail with a dish, what would you pair it with?  

Our QB Burger.  The booziness helps cut the savory fattiness of the dish.

Watch as Mike Vizcarra makes his Negroni, My Way cocktail.

What kind of experience can guests get at Queensborough?  

A neighborhood cocktail bar with a beverage program that's interesting enough to satisfy the palates of people who frequent some of San Diego's amazing cocktail bars but at the same time approachable enough to appeal to someone who's just scratching the surface of spirits and craft cocktails.

About Mike Vizcarra

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Are you from San Diego?   

Originally from San Francisco, I spent my childhood years in Dallas before moving back to the West Coast after high school.  I've been in San Diego for almost 20 years now.

How did you get into bartending?

As many people do, I got into the hospitality industry while I was in college starting out as a busser and moving my way up to get behind the bar.  I probably have just as much management experience as I do bartending but I've always gravitated back to my original craft.

What's your favorite thing about bartending?  

I enjoy the ability to work with the products first hand.  At one point, I thought about culinary school back in my junior college days so bartending is the next best thing.  Working with spirits, produce and ingredients and seeing people enjoy the final product is really fulfilling.  

What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?  

I Only do Brooklyn on the Weekends.  For whatever reason, I've never been a huge fan of dry vermouth but I can't get enough of this cocktail.  It's well-balanced so it's not too astringent but the drink definitely lets you know there's a decent amount of Dolin Dry on the finish.  Plus the great spices still come through from the Henebery Whiskey which is one of my favorite local products.

What's your favorite spirit?  

Japanese Whisky.

Define the 'perfect cocktail.'  

The perfect cocktail for me just needs to be balanced.  Whether it's direct or shaken regardless of spirit, every component needs to play well together.

If you're going out for a cocktail, what are some spots you like to go in San Diego?  

Seven Grand, Bang Bang, anywhere Travis Carter is working and anywhere Gareth Moore is working.

What do you love about the cocktail scene in San Diego?  

This is one of the best cocktail scenes in the country.  There are nationally-recognized bars and bartenders here so we're very fortunate.

Do you have any mentors in the industry?  

After years of monotony in the nightclub world early on in my career, I ended up opening Seven Grand in North Park.  Being around the 213 Nightlife guys like Cedd Moses, Eric Alperin and Pedro Shanahan and some of the Seven Grand staff like Brett Winfield and Juan Sanchez really helped revitalize my passion for this industry.

What advice would you give an inspiring bartender about being successful in the industry?  

Take pride in it, the craft world is all or nothing.  If you want to make proper cocktails then you have to commit to it and make perfect drinks every single time and don't cut corners.  It's like a chef at a farm to table restaurant putting locally-sourced proteins on a dish and then pairing it with frozen french fries.  Don't just half-ass it, take it all the way.  Proper glassware, proper ice, when to stir/when to shake, fresh ingredients always, no artificial ingredients (i.e. Red Bull), etc. etc.

What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?  

Try to stay as active as I can with a hectic work schedule and also spend time with my family.

What's next for you?  

Open Queensborough Downtown in September and hopefully with enough success, look towards future products with my Brethren Collective business partner Shane Brennan.

Queensborough

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777 5th Avenue, downtown. 619-546-4995 or queensboroughsd.com

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There San Diego: Your NYC Fix Right in San Diego

FOOD & DRINK

by Megan Edmiston

In 2005, award-winning mixologist, Sam Ross, changed my world forever when he created the Scotch-based cocktail known as the Penicillin.

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As a former resident of New York City, I spent many nights sipping on one—or two—of these smoky, spicy drinks, and while the recipe isn’t complicated, I quickly learned that there was nothing more satisfying than finding a bar that also appreciated a well-made Penicillin.

It was my love of a Penicillin and my former home that drew me to Gaslamp’s newest addition, Queensborough.

Photo credit: Phillip Silverstein

Photo credit: Phillip Silverstein

A nod to 1920s New York City, the two-story space features custom-made white marble table tops, diamond-tufted leather booths, authentic subway turnstiles, and New York subway tokens set into the tile flooring. They even procured a vintage phone booth-turned-photo booth.

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“Brethren Collective,” made of Shane Brennan (Holsem, Searsucker) and Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand, Bang Bang), are the team behind Queensborough. Brennan actually grew up in Queens. Matthew Ellis of Blue Motif Architecture (Juniper & Ivy, Crack Shack, Kettner Exchange) is the designer and a partner alongside brothers James and Edward Kaen, who own the Keating Hotel and the building where Queensborough is located.

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Following the theme, the cocktail program features drinks created in New York City, from the classic Manhattan and Ramos Gin Fizz to the Cosmopolitan and my one true love, the Penicillin. With my Penicillin-craving fully satisfied, I tried the, “I only do Brooklyn on the weekends” cocktail, which features Henebery Spiced Whiskey, Amaro Montenegro, Dolin Dry, and Luxardo Maraschino cherries.

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My friend, a lover of gin fizz, switched her drink up to try the QB Buck— white peach-infused Russian Standard, lemon, ginger, peach bitters, and soda. If drinking neat is more your style, you’ll find a large collection of hard-to-find bourbons and ryes, Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskeys and a few gin varieties. Alongside Travis Carter (Harvest by The Patio), Mike Vizcarra highlights California craft distilleries with 18 taps of local beer.

If you are coming for the cocktails, definitely stay for the food. In his first executive chef role, Taylor Houseman has designed a menu that pairs perfectly with the cocktail list and is made for sharing.

Photo credit: Paul Body

Photo credit: Paul Body

The red bell pepper citrus chilled soup was the exact thing we needed on an unseasonably humid summer day—the hibiscus crystals on top gave the dish the perfect crunch.

Photo credit: Paul Body

Photo credit: Paul Body

Between the surf and turf sliders, the fried brussels, and the cheese board, my taste buds were thanking me and my stomach was along for the ride.

Photo credit: Paul Body

Photo credit: Paul Body

The champagne vinaigrette and white balsamic reduction on the Brussel sprouts was a pleasant change from the heavier dressings that so often accompany the dish.

The dessert menu is aptly named Save Room—and so we did. Inspired by a NYC trend, you can find cookies and booze milk on the menu alongside beignets, and a fresh-from-the-oven peach cobbler. Lured by the butter toffee gelato on the cobbler, we indulged ourselves and enjoyed every last bite.

Queensborough Downtown, the underground lounge, is expected to open in September. While the details are still under wraps, if the current menu is any indication, it’s sure to become a Gaslamp hot spot.

San Diego Magazine: First Look: Queensborough

SD nightlife vets do ode to 1920s NYC

BY TROY JOHNSON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL BODY
Published: 2017.07.26 03:19 PM

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It used to bug me when new restaurants or bars were built to evoke some other city. Felt like San Diego was having an identity crisis. But some of the city’s best design, food, and cocktail movements have been based on cultural dysmorphia—like tiki bars (False Idol), London-style gastropubs (Jayne’s), Texas-style BBQ lots (Grand Ole BBQ).

And holy hell does Matthew Ellis of bluemotif architecture know how to build a room. My favorite of his might still be Cowboy Star, or Kettner Exchange. And now he’s designed Queensborough, which debuts this week in the Gaslamp—an ode to 1920s New York cocktail culture.

The team behind Queensborough—Brethren Collective—comes by the NYC-love honestly, since Shane Brennan (Holsem, Searsucker) grew up there. It’s an impressive, two-level project from him and partner Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand, Bang Bang).

Today we take a look at the first part, Uptown Queensborough, an 1,800 square-foot cocktail lounge with diamond-tufted leather booths, cantilevered marble tabletops, vintage brass light fixtures, wrought iron railings, and exposed brick walls. They made a floor element out of original subway tokens, turned an old wooden phone booth from Queens into a photo booth, and installed a subway turnstile that will usher guests into the second part of the project—the subterranean Downtown Queensborough (opening in late August).

At the bar, Vizcarra and bartender Travis Carter (Sommelier, Harvest by The Patio) are doing riffs on NYC classics with housemade infusions, syrups, and tinctures. “The New Yorker” starts with Elijah Craig (washed with bacon fat), then adds lemon, Demerara sugar, egg white, and a float of cabernet sauvignon. The “Matcha Julep” tackles green tea mania with Woodford Reserve, matcha syrup, mint and crushed ice. And “I Only Do Brooklyn on the Weekends” a mix of Henebery spiced whiskey, amaro Montenegro, Dolin dry vermouth and Luxardo Maraschino. They’ll also have 18 taps with craft beer.

For food, executive chef and partner Taylor Houseman (Lionfish, Ironside) is doing elevated pub grub. He’ll have nine apps, including seasonal bar nuts, designer popcorn, pretzels, and surf & turf sliders, and a cold soup of red bell peppers and citrus. For the entrées, expect a dry-aged meat board, a chicken board, albondigas (Mexican meatball soup) with smoked pig head and meatballs in a broth, plus grilled cheese, chicken panini, and burgers.

Coming next: the downstairs half of the project, which will be a 6,000 square-foot social club lair designed like NYC’s subways, with white tiled walls, vintage subway signs, metro booth seats, overhead subway grip handles, a custom DJ booth, private whiskey lockers, full service bar, roving cocktail cart, live jazz, and a build-your-own-barrel-aged-cocktail program. Stay tuned.

For now, check out Uptown Queensborough, which opens July 27, and will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 4pm until close. And enjoy the first photos of Uptown Queenborough.

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San Diego Eater: New York-Inspired Gaslamp Bar & Lounge Launching Next Week

Queensborough reveals its food and drink offerings

by Candice Woo  Jul 20, 2017, 9:20am PDT

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Slated to open Thursday, July 27, Queensborough is the Gaslamp’s newest bar and eatery. Set inside a 1920s-era building on Fifth Avenue, the project is from group of industry vets who include nightlife pros Shane Brennan (Omnia, Searsucker) and Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, Bang Bang) and designer Matthew Ellis (Juniper & Ivy, Kettner Exchange).

The sleek 1,800-square-foot cocktail bar and dining area, which includes a marble bar and tabletops, a vintage phone booth, subway turnstiles and a floor studded with subway token, is the first element of Queensborough’s two-story downtown drinking and dining destination. The final component, 6,000-square-foot subterranean lounge that has been described as a “nightclub alternative”, is scheduled to be unveiled next month.

Executive chef Taylor Houseman (Común Kitchen & Tavern and Ironside Fish & Oyster) says his menu reflects the melting pot of New York City cuisine through casual, shareable plates ranging from smoked pig head meatballs with long grain rice, broth and mint crystals to surf and turf sliders that pair scallops with hanger steak that will be augmented with specials. Houseman predicts his burger will be a standout thanks to a freshly ground patty of chuck and tri tip. For dessert, there are warm cookies served with flavored milk spiked with booze. When the downstairs lounge opens, its patrons will also be able to order off this menu. Open starting at 4 p.m. daily, Queensborough’s craft cocktails include the The Big Apple, a mix of red apple-infused Elijah Craig, cinnamon and clove demerara syrup and Angostura bitters and the refreshing Matcha Julep made with Woodford Reserve Rye, matcha, syrup, mint and crushed ice.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

San Diego Eater: Two-Level Gaslamp Bar and Lounge Time-Travels to 1920s NYC

Step into Queensborough starting next month

by Candice Woo  Jun 15, 2017, 1:33pm PDT

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Heading to the heart of the Gaslamp is Queensborough, which will unveil the first component of its ambitious bi-level bar and lounge on 5th Avenue next month. Named for New York City’s largest district, Queens is also the hometown of Shane Brennan (Omnia, Searsucker, Herringbone, Holsem Coffee), co-founder of hospitality group Brethren Collective along with Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, Searsucker, Bang Bang)The longtime friends, both veterans of downtown San Diego’s nightlife industry, are teaming up with designer Matthew Ellis of Bluemotif Architecture (Juniper & Ivy, Crack Shack, Kettner Exchange), who is also a partner in the project, and brothers James and Edward Kaen, who own the Gaslamp’s Keating Hotel in addition to this 5th Avenue building.

Logo by Gretchen Kamp Design

Logo by Gretchen Kamp Design

The 1920s-era building, which will also house the incoming Tacos El Gordo, served as jumping off point for the design for the 1,800 square-foot street-level cocktail bar and dining room. With an entryway off F Street, the space will include a vintage phone booth-turned-photo booth from Brennan’s cousin in Queens along with authentic subway turnstiles and New York subway tokens set into the flooring. Mixed with swanky new elements, including diamond-tufted leather booths and custom-made suspended white marble tabletops, will be the original brick walls and brass fixtures of the site’s previous longterm tenant, Maloney’s Tavern.

Due in early July, Queensborough’s upstairs cocktail parlor will be open daily from 4 p.m. onwards. At the 22-foot-long marble bar, the cocktail program will focus on riffs on drinks created in New York City, from the classic Manhattan to newer mainstays such as the Gold Rush and the Penicillin, along with a large spirit collection of hard-to-find bourbons and ryes, Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskeys plus select gin varieties. In collaboration with Travis Carter (Harvest by The Patio), Vizcarra will also showcase California-based craft distilleries along with 18 taps of San Diego-made beer.

Leading the kitchen is Taylor Houseman in his first executive chef role. Houseman, who attended culinary school at San Diego's Art Institute of California, cooked alongside Chad White at Común Kitchen & Tavern and Ironside Fish & Oyster’s Jason McLeod. His menu, designed to pair well with drinks, includes snacks and shareable plates ranging from spicy housemade popcorn dusted with morita chile ash to whipped goat cheese bruschetta with creamed mushrooms and crispy onions, New York steak sliders with caramelized onion and chipotle aioli, and beignets with Holsem coffee chocolate sauce and strawberry powdered sugar.

L: Shane Brennan; R: Mike Vizcarra

L: Shane Brennan; R: Mike Vizcarra

The second part of the project, a 6,000-square-foot underground lounge below the upstairs “lobby bar”, will launch in August. Details are still under wraps, but the space will offer stirred and direct cocktails and a nightclub alternative to the downtown audience.