You know to get there early. You know to order the Shrouded Roulette. And now you know Canon's Dustin Haarstad. When he's not at the impressively stocked Capitol Hill "whiskey and bitters emporium," Haarstad helps spread the good news of cocktail craftsmanship through Blind Tiger Cocktails Co., the booze-consulting company he founded.
Here, five questions for Dustin Haarstad:
What's the most underrated spirit?
Lately, I've really been enjoying Pisco, a grape brandy from Peru and Chile. There is a ton of history behind it, and it just tastes great in a cocktail.
What is everyone ordering right now?
At Canon, I'm pleasantly surprised to see people just ordering classics such as the Old Fashioned and Manhattans. I get orders for those all night long. Come to think of it, that might have something to do with all that whiskey on the shelf.
What is the craziest thing you've seen at a bar?
After the better part of a decade behind the bar, I've seen my fair share of crazy things from fights to marriage proposals. Overall, I would have to say the craziest thing I've seen behind a bar was in San Diego: I was working at a club where people weren't all that concerned about a good drink, but rather chewing their faces off and fist pumping to dub-step. I remember one guy in particular came up to me trying to order a vodka-Redbull but he was so high that he looked like a goat chewing food while he was trying to talk. I knew it was time to find another gig.
What exactly is it that you do with beverage consulting/education at Blind Tiger Cocktails?
Generally speaking I come across bar owners that really want to step up their game with cocktails. Between spirits education, cocktail program development, and staff training I am able to take a hands-on approach in elevating cocktail culture wherever I'm needed. It's truly an honor to be a part of something like this.
Where do you go when not at Canon?
I've been going to Sun Liquor since its inception over seven years ago. You won't find mustachioed, suspender wearing cocktail snobs anywhere near there. It's just a great neighborhood bar with great drinks, awesome staff, and a place to just duck into and relax. I think the world needs more of that.