The US
Grant is a historic, luxurious property.
But the meaning of luxury is shifting.
How does that translate to your bar
program and the type of customers
who come in?
I think luxury
means to exceed one’s expectations,
and it is the expectations that are shift-
ing. Our bar program aims to offer menu
concepts and ideas that you simply
can’t find anywhere else in terms of in-
novation, service and quality.
One of those concepts is Cocktails
Sur Lie (Sur lie is a French term that
means having been rested on its yeast.
Josenhans’s Cocktails Sur Lie are bottle-
conditioned; added yeast, sugar and
spirits create carbonation in accordance
with the Champagne method, while the
hopping process adds the brewer’s flair.)
What was the inspiration?
From a combination of wanting to
push the envelope in a competitive mar-
ket, needing to utilize my other skills
(sommelier, working on a corporate level)
and wanting to build upon the progres-
sion of cocktail programs put in place
previously. We currently serve the Mos-
cow Mule-inspired Mule (vodka, ginger,
Muscat, Cascade hops) and La Granade
(Cognac, hibiscus tea, pomegranate
juice, bay leaves, black pepper.)
What are some of the new
concepts you have planned for the
The next challenge is taking on the
Cosmopolitan. This worn-out classic is
due for a revamp. We are also moving on
to a raw cocktail menu concept where we
use one whole fruit, like a Granny Smith
apple, fresh-squeezed per cocktail.
You worked hand in hand with
the chef to develop a rooftop garden.
What are you growing up there that
find its way into cocktails?
We plant all of our cocktail ingredients
from seed and only use heirloom variet-
ies. Right now we are growing Atomic
Red carrots, Paquito squash, mini sun-
flowers, Chioggia Guardsmark beets, lav-
ender, Buddha’s Hand citron, kumquats,
Meyer lemons, chocolate mint and lemon
verbena. I like to be seasonal in all as-
pects when it comes to cocktails. Many
people will think along the lines of pro-
duce seasons, but I also like to incorpo-
rate culturally seasonal spices. Nutmeg,
for example, is great around Thanksgiv-
ing and Christmas even though it can be
purchased of equal quality year-round.
What trends are you noticing
among your guests?
One is that they are no longer gravitat-
ing towards brand comfort, but are more
interested in exploring new spirit (and
beverage) brands. I think the speakeasy-
driven cocktail scene has been around for
over a decade now and guests are primed
for new cocktail experiences. We typically
dabble very little in vintage cocktails and
try to have a modern approach with an
equally stringent devotion to quality.
What do you deem the biggest
challenge of working at a hotel bar?
The most obvious one is probably the
hardest challenge: that you have guests
in the hotel bar because they are hotel
guests, and therefore their primary interest
is the overall hotel stay. So the quality of
the bed and the food they ate for breakfast
all affect their evaluation of their bar experi-
ence. In many cases the bar experience is
just playing a supporting role of the entire
hotel experience. Beyond that, hotel bars
operate with a much leaner staff than most
private bars, so managing a sound bud-
get is an elevated skill to have at a hotel.
Stay the Night
Jeff Josenhans, the US Grant Hotel, San Diego
ince arriving at San Diego’s famed US Grant Hotel four years ago,
Jeff Josenhans, director of venues for the property, has rejuvenated
the Grant Grill’s beverage program. The beer list is flooded with local
micro-brews; half-bottles of wine from small producers are plentiful; and one
of the star libations is a Centennial Manhattan, barrel-aged in oak for 100 days.
Still, this talented sommelier and bartender is best known for his pioneering
“Cocktails Sur Lie”, which embrace the Champagne method. Here, Josenhans
reveals his flair for the bold at the hotel bar.
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