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Understory’s Satanic Nightjar: sweet, spicy and herbal

A year-round drink that fits the holiday in name and color

Understory's Satanic Nightjar
Understory's Satanic Nightjar
Scott Slater
  • Scott Slater
  • Understory
  • 12841 El Camino Real, Suite 209-210
  • Carmel Valley

The hunt for a spooky cocktail brought me to Understory, the central bar within Sky Deck at Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Explains bartender Scott Slater, “The Sky Deck, if you haven’t heard before, is a collection of full-service restaurants. Unlike most food halls you’ve been to, which are typically take-out restaurants.”

On the day I visit, it’s a bit too early to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, but he informs me of the party set for October 30th. “It’s going to be Squid Game-themed. There will be $4.56 shots, we’re starting at 4:56pm, and they’ll be a little more themed to Halloween.” To appease my seasonal thirst in the meantime, he suggests the Satanic Nightjar, a year-round drink that fits the holiday in name and color, at least. “It’s orange. ‘Satanic.’ ... Halloween,” observes Slater.

He explains the whole vibe of Understory. “The understory is the layer of the forest — not the forest floor, not the canopy — it’s that in-between layer. And that’s the dimly lit space within the forest that has all the action, all the life. So, all of our cocktails are all named after species that thrive within the understory layer of the forest.”

Place

Understory

12841 El Camino Real Suite 209-210, San Diego

The Satanic Nightjar cocktail is named after “a species of bird, in Indonesia I believe,” he says, sliding me a tall orange drink, decorated with a dehydrated grapefruit slice and an aromatic kaffir lime leaf. “It features flavors of turmeric, ginger, tamarind, chile and lemongrass… And these are all ingredients you would find in that southeast Asia, tropical part of the world.”

He continues, “I started with the names of the species that we wanted to use [for drink names], and then tried to find ingredients and inspirations that go with that cocktail. All those flavors came together and it’s a really fun drink. It’s a sweet, spicy and herbal cocktail all in one. This has a few different layers that you’ll get from start to finish. You’ll get that botanical, the sweet, and right at the end you’ll get a little bit of that small, smoky kick from the chile.”

Slater uses cocktail syrup made by local company Curious Juniper. “They literally started when we opened up. We were their first customers,” he says. “This syrup she made specifically for us.”

Gin is the spirit of choice for this recipe. “It’s not a typical gin drink that’s overwhelming with either tonic or heavy alcohol. Fords gin is a more botanical gin, so the florals of the gin are what come through. It definitely has some sweet, it definitely has some spicy. Anybody who’s looking to enjoy some complexities in a cocktail, this is a good experimental cocktail for you.”

Understory's Satanic Nightjar
  • Understory’s
  • Satanic Nightjar
  • 2 oz. Fords gin
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup
  • 1/2 oz. ginger-tumeric syrup
  • 1/2 oz. tamarindo-chile syrup
  • Mix ingredients in a shaker tin with crushed ice, then dirty dump into glass. Spritz with lemongrass and top with soda water. Garnish with grapefruit wheel and kaffir lime leaf.
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Understory's Satanic Nightjar
Understory's Satanic Nightjar
Scott Slater
  • Scott Slater
  • Understory
  • 12841 El Camino Real, Suite 209-210
  • Carmel Valley

The hunt for a spooky cocktail brought me to Understory, the central bar within Sky Deck at Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Explains bartender Scott Slater, “The Sky Deck, if you haven’t heard before, is a collection of full-service restaurants. Unlike most food halls you’ve been to, which are typically take-out restaurants.”

On the day I visit, it’s a bit too early to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, but he informs me of the party set for October 30th. “It’s going to be Squid Game-themed. There will be $4.56 shots, we’re starting at 4:56pm, and they’ll be a little more themed to Halloween.” To appease my seasonal thirst in the meantime, he suggests the Satanic Nightjar, a year-round drink that fits the holiday in name and color, at least. “It’s orange. ‘Satanic.’ ... Halloween,” observes Slater.

He explains the whole vibe of Understory. “The understory is the layer of the forest — not the forest floor, not the canopy — it’s that in-between layer. And that’s the dimly lit space within the forest that has all the action, all the life. So, all of our cocktails are all named after species that thrive within the understory layer of the forest.”

Place

Understory

12841 El Camino Real Suite 209-210, San Diego

The Satanic Nightjar cocktail is named after “a species of bird, in Indonesia I believe,” he says, sliding me a tall orange drink, decorated with a dehydrated grapefruit slice and an aromatic kaffir lime leaf. “It features flavors of turmeric, ginger, tamarind, chile and lemongrass… And these are all ingredients you would find in that southeast Asia, tropical part of the world.”

He continues, “I started with the names of the species that we wanted to use [for drink names], and then tried to find ingredients and inspirations that go with that cocktail. All those flavors came together and it’s a really fun drink. It’s a sweet, spicy and herbal cocktail all in one. This has a few different layers that you’ll get from start to finish. You’ll get that botanical, the sweet, and right at the end you’ll get a little bit of that small, smoky kick from the chile.”

Slater uses cocktail syrup made by local company Curious Juniper. “They literally started when we opened up. We were their first customers,” he says. “This syrup she made specifically for us.”

Gin is the spirit of choice for this recipe. “It’s not a typical gin drink that’s overwhelming with either tonic or heavy alcohol. Fords gin is a more botanical gin, so the florals of the gin are what come through. It definitely has some sweet, it definitely has some spicy. Anybody who’s looking to enjoy some complexities in a cocktail, this is a good experimental cocktail for you.”

Understory's Satanic Nightjar
  • Understory’s
  • Satanic Nightjar
  • 2 oz. Fords gin
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup
  • 1/2 oz. ginger-tumeric syrup
  • 1/2 oz. tamarindo-chile syrup
  • Mix ingredients in a shaker tin with crushed ice, then dirty dump into glass. Spritz with lemongrass and top with soda water. Garnish with grapefruit wheel and kaffir lime leaf.
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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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