Overseeing a duo of restaurants in Laguna Beach, Dave Anderson and Dylan Pugh not only serve The Deck and soon-to-open Hendrix Restaurant and Bar (respectively), they were competitors over the weekend at OC Weekly’s Fresh Toast Bloody Battle! I spend this week’s interview pinging and ponging between the two beverage experts.
Indispensable tool in the bar:
Dave Anderson.: A great bar back!
Dylan Pugh: A personality!
Hardest lesson you’ve learned:
D.A.: Not being prepared for a wrestling match in college. . . .
D.P.: Don’t take anything personally.
Tell us where The Deck is located (that view!) as well as where Hendrix will be when it opens.
D.A.: The Deck is situated on beautiful Laguna Beach, on Sleepy Hollow Lane. The view is breathtaking— regardless of the time of year.
D.P.: Hendrix has a prime location for South County locals, allowing the opportunity of dinner then a movie.
What was in your Bloody Battle cocktails?
Both: Ancho Reyes-infused Reyka Vodka and house Mary mix with touch of atomic horseradish and celery bitters.
Most popular cocktails at your establishments?
D.A.: The Red Tide— also referred to as “the red one” by guests! The Red Tide has watermelon and mint with a cranberry-lime sour and Reyka Icelandic Vodka.
D.P.: We will keep you posted, since we open soon!
One stereotype about the industry, and whether it’s true.
D.A.: One stereotype is that ever Mixologist has a beard or mustache— to be honest, for the most part, I would say it’s true!
Most important quality you look for in a bartender:
D.A.: The smile— we put it in every drink!
You’re making breakfast; what are you having?
D.A.: Probably a scramble with tomatoes, spinach, feta and my favorite salsa!
D.P.: Two eggs over easy, with pancakes and bacon. I like to keep it traditional.
Are there any bites that I can order while having a cocktail?
D.A.: Of course! Whether it’s our Cheese & Charcuterie Board, Shrimp & Chorizo Tacos, or Meatballs with Burrata Cheese, everyone can find something to their liking.
D.P.: Stay tuned!
Advice for an aspiring bartender.
D.A.: Start off as a bar back first; don’t rush, have fun with it and take the opportunity to study the craft!
D.P.: Start small, study other bartenders, then create your own style.
How practical is it to go to bartending school before becoming a bartender?
D.A.: I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary if you get great training and have a family atmosphere. In the right environment, you will learn everything you need to know.
D.P.: I also don’t think it’s necessary— learning under an experienced bartender with great training can have more benefits.
Where did you grow up?
D.A.: I am OC born and raised in beautiful San Clemente.
D.P.: I am from Georgia. I came to Orange County for the opportunities here.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
D.A.: Winning the Junior All-American Southern California Super Bowl!
D.P.: Catching the game-winning interception during the payoffs.
Favorite meal growing up:
D.A.: “Chicken and Rice with the Sauce” as I used to call it. My mom knew exactly what I meant every time!
D.P.: My Mom’s homemade Chicken and Dumplings.
Last thing you looked up online:
D.A.: The best places to honeymoon in the Caribbean!
D.P.: Plane tickets— I love to travel!
Favorite places to drink.
D.A.: We like to drink at Vaca— fun Spanish wines and great cocktails.
D.P.: I like to drink at Three Seventy Common— the bartenders are fun, and the drinks are consistent and seasonal.
What did you study in school, and what did you originally want to do as a career?
D.A.: Business Marketing. I have always wanted to help either run or own my very own restaurant. I get to do that every day with Sentinel Restaurant Group, owners of The Deck on Laguna, Driftwood Kitchen and Hendrix.
D.P.: I studied to be an Emergency Medical Technician. I had my sights set on becoming a firefighter.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
D.A.: I spent three years at Fork Union Military Academy for high school in Fork Union, Virginia.
D.P.: I fixed the brake system in my car from watching a YouTube video when I was 16!
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.