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Cache — Hillcrest's proto-Parisian salon

Cervantes Magana: “I’m not just building cocktails”

“I’m looking for ways in which to translate information through a beverage."
“I’m looking for ways in which to translate information through a beverage."

A trip to modern speakeasy cache is a trip through time. From the moment you discover its entrance disguised as a walk-in freezer by the bathrooms of not-for-profit Tacos Libertad (the latest offering from Cohn Restaurant Group, adjacent to their fourth BO-beau kitchen), you feel as though you’ve uncovered an archaeological dig.

Place

BO-beau kitchen + caché

1027 University Avenue, San Diego

Like shovel-broken earth, cache tells its story in fractured layers: chandeliers and fleur-de-lis curtains suggestive of Marie Antionette’s Versailles, murals inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge–era showbills, ancient cognac presses repurposed as liquor racks, expired marriage contracts and trade agreements, Japanese bone brushes and English typeset preserved under the glass of a wabi sabi credenza, a Grecian statue depicting a woman in grape-leaf crown cradling a sacrificial lamb, and three live olive trees sprouting smack in the middle of an early evening crowd.

It’s a proto-Parisian salon but flaunting another century-and-then-some of cocktail craft, gastronomy, context, and Caravan Palace on the stereo. The batched cocktail menu — featuring flips, egg sours, swizzles, juleps, bourbons, gins, and French-Caribbean tiki influences — reads like a forgotten pirate manuscript. Passages of esoteric bottle talk create a call-and-response chorus with jubilant outbursts of interpretation.

“Everything is ancient,” says Cervantes Magaña, whose visionary prowess with Medicine Show Restaurant and Bar Consultants is already well-evinced by locales such as Bar by Red Door, Double Standard, Roseville Cozinha, and Masters. He pours a Pistachio Milk Punch into a vintage milkman’s bottle and garnishes it with a sprig of fresh mint. It’s strong and sweet, the brandy mouth of Pisco punctuated by the distant anise of Arak. It hits like a Caribbean rum-and-coconut, somehow, and leaves the mouth feeling coated and lactic, yet it’s 100 percent vegan. The menu describes it as “highly quaffable” and, at an easy $9 per high-powered bottle, I’m not inclined to disagree.

“I’m not just building cocktails,” Magana later introspects. “I’m looking for ways in which to translate information through a beverage to you. I think about the feel of the neighborhood and what the community’s looking for. Drinks like the Party Boi, University Avenue Zombie, Love Thy Neighbor — it’s all the shit we’ve been through as a community looking for gay acceptance. Pride. All these words and cocktails speak a lot about the community.”

The community, a look in any direction confirms, is listening.

Prices: beer, $7–$8; cocktails, $9–$10; wine $10–$16.

Food: Bring in your order from BO-beau kitchen or Tacos Libertad.

Hours: 4 p.m.–1 a.m. daily.

Happy: 4–6:30 p.m. daily next door at BO-beau kitchen, $6 select appetizers and cocktails.

Parking: Metered on street.

Capacity: 200 or so.

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“I’m looking for ways in which to translate information through a beverage."
“I’m looking for ways in which to translate information through a beverage."

A trip to modern speakeasy cache is a trip through time. From the moment you discover its entrance disguised as a walk-in freezer by the bathrooms of not-for-profit Tacos Libertad (the latest offering from Cohn Restaurant Group, adjacent to their fourth BO-beau kitchen), you feel as though you’ve uncovered an archaeological dig.

Place

BO-beau kitchen + caché

1027 University Avenue, San Diego

Like shovel-broken earth, cache tells its story in fractured layers: chandeliers and fleur-de-lis curtains suggestive of Marie Antionette’s Versailles, murals inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge–era showbills, ancient cognac presses repurposed as liquor racks, expired marriage contracts and trade agreements, Japanese bone brushes and English typeset preserved under the glass of a wabi sabi credenza, a Grecian statue depicting a woman in grape-leaf crown cradling a sacrificial lamb, and three live olive trees sprouting smack in the middle of an early evening crowd.

It’s a proto-Parisian salon but flaunting another century-and-then-some of cocktail craft, gastronomy, context, and Caravan Palace on the stereo. The batched cocktail menu — featuring flips, egg sours, swizzles, juleps, bourbons, gins, and French-Caribbean tiki influences — reads like a forgotten pirate manuscript. Passages of esoteric bottle talk create a call-and-response chorus with jubilant outbursts of interpretation.

“Everything is ancient,” says Cervantes Magaña, whose visionary prowess with Medicine Show Restaurant and Bar Consultants is already well-evinced by locales such as Bar by Red Door, Double Standard, Roseville Cozinha, and Masters. He pours a Pistachio Milk Punch into a vintage milkman’s bottle and garnishes it with a sprig of fresh mint. It’s strong and sweet, the brandy mouth of Pisco punctuated by the distant anise of Arak. It hits like a Caribbean rum-and-coconut, somehow, and leaves the mouth feeling coated and lactic, yet it’s 100 percent vegan. The menu describes it as “highly quaffable” and, at an easy $9 per high-powered bottle, I’m not inclined to disagree.

“I’m not just building cocktails,” Magana later introspects. “I’m looking for ways in which to translate information through a beverage to you. I think about the feel of the neighborhood and what the community’s looking for. Drinks like the Party Boi, University Avenue Zombie, Love Thy Neighbor — it’s all the shit we’ve been through as a community looking for gay acceptance. Pride. All these words and cocktails speak a lot about the community.”

The community, a look in any direction confirms, is listening.

Prices: beer, $7–$8; cocktails, $9–$10; wine $10–$16.

Food: Bring in your order from BO-beau kitchen or Tacos Libertad.

Hours: 4 p.m.–1 a.m. daily.

Happy: 4–6:30 p.m. daily next door at BO-beau kitchen, $6 select appetizers and cocktails.

Parking: Metered on street.

Capacity: 200 or so.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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