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Bar Director Steven Hayden

    Bar Director Steven Hayden
Bar Director Steve Hayden

“We want to emphasize our rich bar program at Bronze Quail and give our loyal guests who’ve been with us since the very beginning of Journeyman’s, an opportunity to see us more frequently to enjoy our imaginative à la carte dishes and highly creative beverages,” commented Bar Director Steven Hayden, who was part of the opening team at Journeyman’s. “My focus has been on creating innovative scratch-made cocktails and mocktails that follow the same culinary philosophy as our kitchen. I want to highlight our thoughtfully crafted drinks, house-made bitters, liqueurs and hand-carved ice.”

Hayden currently offers more than 30 signature drinks on his menu. The beverages include a selection of Aperitifs with low ABV, served with house citrus tonic; more intricate “Shaken Not Stirred” cocktails that highlight Hayden’s creativity, as well as takes on classic cocktails; Spirit Forward drinks that feature house-made bitters and are served over hand-carved ice or straight up; and nearly a dozen Old Fashioned variations, served with the appropriate citrus peels and house-made bitters.

His menu also features a thoughtful selection of Craft Mocktails, created for guests who wish to abstain from alcohol or who just want to partake in a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. Hayden makes a Faux Gin from scratch to utilize in a few of his mocktails to create cocktail-inspired beverages with universal appeal.

“I am always inspired by the dishes coming out of our kitchen and they give way to modernist-style cocktails are always evolving,” explained Hayden, who works with sustainability in mind, utilizing everything from leftover berries used for infusions to make alcoholic gelato, to using the pulp from juiced pineapples to make basil-salted pineapple chips for a tiki drink. “Recently, I created a Mezcal-Tomato cocktail featuring a clarified cocktail aspic, smoked chicken heart, eucalyptus-avocado-tomato liqueur granita, house-made cilantro-lime amaro meringue that was dehydrated, and garnished with mini chilies and coriander flowers from my back yard. It was a cocktail meant to be eaten with a spoon.”

After spending nearly a decade developing his skills as bartender and server at various restaurants, Hayden returned to his hometown of Fullerton looking for something new and exciting. Fate took him to Citizen Kitchen at the Hotel Fullerton. There, he deepened his understanding of craft cocktails, gastronomy and global, contemporary cooking. Working side-by-side with Chef Geerson opened his mind and allowed a deep passion to form. After two years of learning, growing and creating, Hayden stepped into the role of Bar Director at Journeyman’s and Citizen Kitchen.

“It’s hard to classify the style and vibe at Bronze Quail – the only limitations we have to creating and progressing are the ones set by ourselves,” continued Hayden. “We want to deliver a rich culinary experience. The goal is to have guests trust us and what we’re doing here, so that it gets them excited to try new things and partake in the adventure we set to create.”

s a close enough but easy transition. He found a love and appreciation for the outdoors and nature; something that was not offered growing up in the city. “My years spent in Mammoth were a time of seclusion and calm. There’s a peace to be had living in the mountains that so few of us have the chance to experience.” After spending nearly a decade bartending and serving Hayden moved back home to Fullerton. Looking for something new and exciting he wandered in to Citizen Kitchen. This is where he began to really learn and understand what craft cocktails, gastronomy and global / contemporary cooking can be. “Having the opportunity to work by and learn from Chef Zach Geerson really opened up my mind and brought a passion I’d never known before. From the first time we spoke I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of and it was something that I couldn’t stop thinking about.” Over the next 2 years Hayden studied cuisine and spirits trying in his free time to learn hands on how to cook and create dishes and classic cocktails. When the time came for someone to take over the position of Bar Director at what was Journeyman’s (now Bronze Quail), he was the obvious choice.
Having started making bitters and amaro’s in his free time as a bit of a hobby, house made bitters were the first big change that Hayden made. The next was tinkering and really understanding how to make and carve clear ice. From there it was finding the creative side of craft cocktail making and how to really immerse himself into the drinks in a creative and thoughtful way. Currently at the bar you’ll find 35 different signature aperitifs, old fashioneds, shaken and stirred cocktails and thoughtful mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails.) Those are just the items on the menu but there are many other things offered at the bar. Working with sustainability in mind Hayden tries to use as much as he can in different ways. “We take the scraps from syrups to make powders for garnishing; using the left over berries that are used to infuse spirits we make alcoholic gelato and serve it as a dessert; using the pulp from juicing pineapples we make basil salted pineapple chips for a tiki drink. All the aspects are taken into account when thinking about what goes with our cocktails and how we can utilize everything.” One of the newest concepts that Hayden has been working on lately is modernist style cocktails. Most recently you’ll find a Mezcal – Green Chili cocktail set as an aspic with smoked chicken heart, eucalyptus – avocado and tomato liqueur granita, house cilantro lime amaro meringue, garnished with coriander flower and mini chili’s; this cocktail you eat with a spoon.
As time moves on it becomes harder for Hayden to classify the style and setting for the bar at Bronze Quail. “Over the first year of taking over the beverage program to say – I’ve learned a lot, would be an understatement. In my heart there is no limit to creating and progressing here, the limitations we have are only set by ourselves and our own creativity. When guest’s come to the bar at the Bronze Quail, I want them to forget about why or how they came to find themselves in their seat. When they take a sip or a bite I want them to stop thinking about the outside world and try to find the layers that have been set before them. On my most hopeful days I’m able to offer something that has never been tried or tasted in that fashion. Those are the moments that keep me moving forward and those are the moments that give us the courage to try new and exciting things.”