Right across from Sts. Peter and Paul Church, the same chapel where Joe DiMaggio married Dorothy Arnold, is where you’ll find Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse — fitting for the ballplayer for whom it is named. And, of course, it follows suit that sports celebrities are naturally drawn to this eatery, such as Michael Jordan (who drank Glenlivet), Tiger Woods (Grey Goose and water) and “Happy Gilmore” star Adam Sandler (margaritas). But our favorite star of the show is bartender Elmer Mejicanos, who sprinkles his brand of stardust all over the restaurant’s cocktail menu. Some of his best ideas come while he is in the shower, which is where he hatched the idea of a cucumber-infused gin with touches of jalapeño and lime. We gave that one a standing ovation. 601 Union St., San Francisco, (415) 421-5633, www.joedimaggiosrestaurant.com
Tell us where you’re from. I am from Nicaragua. I came here about almost six years ago and as soon as I got here, my first job was in a restaurant.
Before you got into this industry, what did you used to drink? It was always like a shot and a beer for me; a shot of Jameson and a Bud Light, and still to this day, that’s what I get. But if I go out to dinner, I’ll probably have a manhattan.
What would you say is the biggest difference between drinking in Nicaragua versus drinking in the U.S.? For one, I wasn’t into the whole drinking thing when I was there. It wasn’t until I got here and started working in restaurants. I always had a passion for drinks, even when I was just the bar back, I always wanted to learn. I love what I do.
We understand that many of your cocktail recipes have been inspired by foods you’ve eaten. It’s funny how it happens. I could just be driving to work or watching a movie ... I’m always thinking about new drinks. [I thought of the gin, jalapeño and lime cocktail] while I think I was taking a shower.
What drink off this restaurant’s cocktail menu would you be most likely to order for yourself? Right now, it would be the Union and Stockton. It’s Hendrick’s gin, a little bit of cucumber, a little bit of lemon, a little bit of sugar. Served up with a slice of cucumber.
So, since we are in North Beach, what are some of the more Italian beverages on your menu? I have a couple. Back in Sicily, apparently, you can get chocolate-covered orange peels everywhere. That was one of my things I was going for with the Sicilian sunset. It’s pretty much vanilla, chocolate and orange. I have another one, which is the Italian cooler, where I used everything I could think of that was Italian: aperol, prosecco, and I use a little pear, a little lemon, a little sugar, on the rocks. It’s really refreshing.
Have more people ordered those drinks in light of “Jersey Shore” being on the air? I wouldn’t know that.
You don’t watch that show? We heard you even have your own Jersey-inspired name? The Juicebox.
How often do you fist-pump? All the time.
- 1½ oz. vodka
- 1½ strawberries
- 1 large basil leaf
- ¼ oz. balsamic reduction
- ¾ oz. simple syrup
Muddle strawberries, basil, balsamic reduction and simple syrup. Add vodka and ice, shake together. Strain into a martini glass drizzled with balsamic reduction. Add a slice of strawberry.