Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Enrique Sanchez dreamed of a life in the United States. At 21 he came to San Francisco and attended City College of San Francisco. In 2004, he began working as a bartender at Bacar, where he became interested in becoming a "mixologist." Over the last 12 years, he's been behind some of the best bars, and bar programs, the City has to offer. Enrique is now the Bar Director at Arguello Restaurant, located in the Presidio Officers' Club. He curates the types of spirits the restaurant carries, continually developing new cocktail menus, and he's an expert when it comes to creating special cocktails for private events.
What was the inspiration for Arguello's bar program?
The restaurant was named after Luis Antonio Arguello, commander of the Presidio from 1806 until 1822 when he became the first Mexican Governor of Alta California. As a way to keep that history alive, the restaurant menu and the bar program are inspired by authentic Mexican cuisine. So what you see behind the bar is fairly agave- and spirit-focused, which is pretty apparent since we have more than 100 types of tequila and mescal available.
How would you describe the drinks at Arguello?
Our cocktail menu features drinks that are 100% agave-based, and the menu completely changes four times each year. We use a combination of seasonal products and ingredients that are native to Mexico, like chile de árbol, hibiscus, chipotle, and corn. Most importantly, we try to strike a good balance to make sure everyone can find something they like, whether it's sweet, tart, or bitter.
What can people expect to see on the new summer 2016 menu?
The new menu launches June 21 and – as always – is driven by what's in season. You'll find a blackberry margarita, a raspberry-based cocktail, and another drink featuring grapefruit. We also know the weather in San Francisco can be hot one day and cold the next, which is why we have a daily special as well. If it's sunny in the Presidio, expect the daily cocktail to be refreshing. If it's cold and rainy, a warmer and cozier drink will be offered.
Tell us about the "Pride Cocktail"?
It's available throughout the month of June in celebration of Pride Month and it's made using orange juice, grenadine, Aperol, lime, and Tapatio Blanco 110 Tequila. It also has a colorful mixture of edible flowers and hibiscus powder on the rim, and it's served over crushed ice – perfect for a sunny day out on Arguello's patio.
What drinks do you have available for people who don't like tequila?
Though we definitely specialize in agave, we have a great selection of bourbon, rum, gin, and all the classic spirits, as well. Just because it's not on the menu, doesn't mean we can't make the more traditional drinks, like an Old Fashioned or a Sazerac. Just ask! The same goes for private events and weddings – we can tailor menus and create cocktail specials that are both authentic and unique for the event.
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