Caché’s Cocktails Showcase French Flavors
The Hillcrest speakeasy debuts five new drinks this week
Caché's decor features French influences. | Photo: Paul Body
The web address for Hillcrest restaurant Bo-Beau includes the word “caché” — but the website doesn’t actually tell you what Caché is. To add to the mystery, if you go to Bo-Beau looking for Caché, it’s not there. You’ll need to go next door, to Tacos Libertad, and walk through the door in the back that looks like a storage freezer (caché means “hidden” in French). Inside is the dimly lit, chandelier-filled, French-inspired bar that lured Joan Villanueva away from La Jolla’s The Hake, where he’d been the bar manager for more than three years. Villanueva still considers The Hake his baby, but says he couldn’t turn down the chance to head up the new Hillcrest bar.
Caché’s opening menu was created by Cervantes Magaña, whose Medicine Show Restaurant and Bar Consultants has helped launch spots like Bar by Red Door and Cloak & Petal. Magaña’s cocktail menu had won over regulars and Villanueva didn’t want to change it up entirely. So, he waited a few months to see what people liked and, this week, will introduce five new cocktails, but keep ones that have patrons coming back.
“We have a few people, as soon as they walk in, I know they want a Zombie,” he said, referring to Magaña’s French-Caribbean take on the classic tiki cocktail.
Villanueva wanted to stick with a French theme for the new cocktails. He came up with a Herbs de Provence-infused gin that’s amazing its own, in a martini, or in the Provençal Morning, which also includes Aperol and Giffard grapefruit liqueur. My favorite is the Old Fashioned Quack, which features a duck-fat-washed Cognac, Grand Marnier, cinnamon syrup, and Angostura bitters—Villanueva describes the cocktail as “Cognac meets Duck a l’Orange.” Also excellent is the Sage Advice, made with Uncle Val’s gin, sage, falernum, honey syrup, and cardamom bitters. Villanueva adds a sprig of sage, spritzes the cocktail with absinthe, and lights it on fire. It’s a fragrant, delicate sipper with a nice hint of sweetness.
Villanueva said he’s looking forward to building up his team of bartenders—he recently brought on Rachel Green from Craft & Commerce—and getting their input on new cocktails, “so everyone feels they’re part of the program,” he said.
On Tuesday, February 13, bartenders from Pacific Beach tiki bar The Grass Skirt are doing a bar takeover at Caché that will feature a special four-cocktail menu and and food by Bao St. Buns.
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