Mastering Home Mixology at San Diego’s Newest Bar Supply Store
Whipping up a complex cocktail at home can seem intimidating at best, impossible at worst to the novice bartender. However, there’s something undeniably eye-catching about fully stocked bars and home bar carts. The glistening jiggers, clinking ice cubes, and dazzling array of bottles that gleam in the sun—it’s enough to entice almost anyone to give mixology a shot.
Home bartending is on the rise, and not just by those inspired by the aesthetic. When you search “bar cart” in Pinterest, there are thousands upon thousands of images to drool over. But of course, bar carts are nothing but fancy shelves if they aren’t stocked with proper equipment. That’s where cocktail supply shops like San Diego’s Collins & Coupe come in. They’re the latest in a burgeoning trend geared towards people who want to learn how to recreate classic cocktails or invent their own.
“Cocktails don’t have to be this exclusive thing that only hipster bartenders get to make,” says Gary McIntire, co-owner of Collins & Coupe with spouse Logan McIntire Mitchell. “Whatever you enjoy drinking, there’s no reason why you can’t make it yourself.”
The shop’s goal, according to McIntire, is to be a resource for both home and professional bartenders. “It’s a place where people can come and find the things they need, but also come and talk about being nerds about drinking.”
McIntire and Mitchell are no strangers to the San Diego bar and culinary scene. Six years ago, they founded Cellar Door, a private supper club that matches cocktails to themed menus. Mitchell handles the food and McIntire pairs each course with a beverage (mostly cocktails). Through the years and after many trips to L.A. store Bar Keeper to source supplies, McIntire realized San Diego needed a resource of its own.
Collins & Coupe is small, but well curated to provide the essentials every bartender should have, plus some fancy gadgets for the cocktail connoisseurs. Located in the heart of North Park—San Diego’s food and drink epicenter—they’re near acclaimed cocktail programs like Sycamore Den, Polite Provisions, and Kindred. They source tools and provisions to a few bars around town, but what sets Collins & Coupe apart is their educational initiative. They’ve dedicated a large chunk of time each month to encourage home bartenders of all levels to come hone their craft in a structured and stocked environment. Classes and workshops range from beginner to advanced classes every month, as well as regular tasting events with local vendors.
McIntire explains: “Classes will be more one-on-one, kind of, here are some basic techniques, here’s how you use a shaker, here’s how a strainer works, here’s why you should stir a drink not shake it, etc.”
February 25 marked their first “Cocktail 101” class with Trevor Bowles from You & Yours Distilling Company, San Diego’s first urban distillery. Class sizes are limited in size to ensure hands-on guidance from the pros, which McIntire believes will entice curious neophytes to the cocktail world. New classes will be announced each month.
“I think cocktails can seem really intimidating, [so] part of the reason why we opened our store was to empower people to pick up a shaker and make a delicious drink,” explains McIntire. He hopes to soon offer a barrel-aging cocktail workshop as well as a Negroni basics class. Students at these classes and workshops can expect tutorials on the history of particular cocktails, modern iterations, the bar tools required (for sale in the shop), and the process of making each one.
“We’re still a small enough industry scene that people can still support each other and it doesn’t feel too competitive. I think that’s really cool.”
Collins & Coupe is located at 2876 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite #100, San Diego.