SoCal’s Best Mixologist: Miguel Sandoval

No one could have anticipated the success of Mixology Masters, an evening of friendly competition presented by Porsche Irvine. The sophisticated event brought together Southern California’s best bartenders, food and beverage connoisseurs, and elite community members for an exciting collaboration to benefit Barks of Love Animal Rescue. As the night unfolded guests sampled the top mixology creations and voted for their favorite at the end of the event. Taking the win this time was Miguel Sandoval from Treehouse by Tanners in Huntington Beach.

Mixology is an exciting discipline that combines an appreciation of classic cocktails and cocktail culture with a desire to create new recipes using a forward-thinking approach. It all started with the curiosity of learning how to run and operate a restaurant. Using unique ingredients and techniques inspired by trips to Japan and Mexico he regularly creates new and innovative mixed drinks by experimenting and it has certainly turned him into an award-winning mixologist. Representing Pasea Hotel & Spa and Treehouse by Tanners, Miguel was born in NYC but raised in Mexico City. Living and working in the SoCal industry has really made him fall in love with the magic behind cocktail crafting. He has been Pasea Hotel’s Lead bartender since 2018. We sat down with the recent Mixology Master winner to discuss where his inspiration for mixology began, what continually inspires him to create and what his career goals for the future are.

How did you get into this industry and where did your love of mixology begin? At first, it all started because I was curious about learning how a restaurant operates. Nonetheless, I visited a bar in Mexico that happened to have a bartender that came over from Japan. The way he performed behind the bar that day was incredible. At that point, I knew I wanted to be a bartender and share that magic with more people.

What is your favorite part about your job as a mixologist? I love the idea of doing something that keeps me creative but seeing my guests’ reactions after unexpected great service and awesome drinks is my favorite part.

How did you come up with your winning cocktail? I wanted to create something loaded with full winter flavors, but at the same time, make it refreshing. I guess I was looking for the perfect transition cocktail for this beautiful year.

How do you find creativity and drive to create new libations and cocktails? I believe that as long as flavors are well-balanced and you are using the proper techniques any idea or concept is worth trying. Which other SoCal restaurants/bars do you like to visit for inspiration? The Normandie Club, Oriole, The Varnish and Death & Co.

Where are you dying to travel, and experience craft cocktails? Japan, I cannot wait to experience the culture, hospitality, and modern cocktails of the bartenders from there.

What are your career goals for 2023? I’d love to continue expanding my education into the business management aspects of hospitality, bars, restaurant, and hotels.

Photo by Michael Pascual