Hugo Vazquez now at home in one of city’s hottest bars

Hugo Vazquez, the mixologist at several top bars in San Francisco, is one of several bartenders at San Francisco’s hottest hot spot. The 2-year-old Infusion Lounge is so hopping that the line to get in snakes around the block, and the doormen enforce a strict dress code and a girl-to-guy ratio. Located within the Hotel Fusion, the nightclub boasts two bars, two DJs, two dance floors and a Pan-Asian restaurant. Designed by Hong Kong’s Kinney Chan, the well-appointed club hosts its annual New Year’s Eve event this year, “NYE 2011: Ice.”

Infusion Lounge, 124 Ellis St., San Francisco, (415) 421-8700

How long have you been a bartender?
I started at Home Restaurant [2100 Market St.] when I came here five years ago from Acapulco. I started at Infusion four months ago and I work here Fridays and Saturdays.

They named a drink after you at Home, right?
That was one of my first inventions. We took it off the menu but a lot of people kept asking for it so they brought it back. It’s a tropical drink. Vodka, triple sec, ginger ale, pineapple, cranberry, lime juice and love.

What’s your drink philosophy?
When you’re young, you might drink just to get drunk. But nowadays, I think that we should enjoy what we drink.

Why did you come to San Francisco? I needed a fresh thing and San Francisco is the kind of place you can find yourself. I love it. It’s an amazing city.

How did you become a bartender? I had never worked in a restaurant before, but I got a job as a busboy. I saw the bartenders and said, “I want to be that guy.” Little by little, I got promoted. I was a food runner, an expediter, a host and then a bartender.

What do you think of the bars here? Sometimes I go to bars and meet really nice bartenders, but they don’t have any skills. I went to one expensive four- or five-star place and asked for a Sazerac, but the bartender wasn’t familiar with it. I like places where they know how to make a cocktail.

What do you like about bartending? I love to be creative and try new things. It’s a cool job and I’m doing it for a living now.

Tell me about Infusion. It is a Vegas-style bar. I’ve never seen anything like Infusion before. There’s a lot of people here, a lot of money, and a lot of things going on.

What’s the clientele like? On Friday and Saturday, it’s almost impossible to get in. We get 400 to 500 people those nights and it climaxes from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Most people are 21 to 35 years old.

Do you get famous people here? Always. It’s like the hottest spot in The City. We have had LeBron James, Shaq [O’Neal], the Wayans brothers. We got all of the Giants baseball players after the World Series.

Which celebrity would you like to serve, alive or dead?
The Dos Equis guy if he were real. He seems like such a cool person to talk to.

The Sazerac

 

  • 4 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 cubes of sugar
  • 2 oz. (ri)1
  • Splash La Muse Verte Absinthe

Muddle sugar and bitters in a pint glass. Add whiskey. In a bucket glass, stir absinthe and ice so that the absinthe coats the glass, then pour out the excess. Shake pint glass with ice and strain into the bucket glass. Squeeze a lemon twist around the rim and drop into drink.

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