If you ask Gedeon Tsegaye, beverage production manager at Haven, about how arrived at the restaurant’s progressive cocktail list, his answer is simple. “Most success is team generated,” he says.
Even Parker Punch, a vibrant libation he created with cranberry, bourbon, Lillet, and orgeat syrup that he created for our “friendsgiving” celebration, was inspired by the close-knit staff at the restaurant. “We are brothers and sisters,” he says of his co-workers. “I dedicated that Parker Punch to my good friend Charlie Parker, and finished it with brut Champagne to temper the sweetness.”
As Tsegaye played around with drinks, testing the restaurant’s house-pressed cranberry juice in a sidecar and gimlet, we asked him to share his thoughts on Haven and the Oakland cocktail scene, the key to the perfect cocktail, and what he likes to drink when it’s his turn to host for the holidays.
I was a chef for 10 years. After mastering the flavors on the palate, harnessing the power of naturally amazing ingredients and transposing them into delicious beverages seemed like the next step.
What, in your opinion, makes Haven special?
Charlie Parker is an amazingly talented chef, and the team at Haven delivers maternal comfort. The ambience is totally dock boat marina — enjoy the plant life inside as you gaze at yachts and the Oakland Bay while sipping Parker Punch.
What’s been your approach to developing the drink menu at Haven?
I research and develop new, seasonal cocktails using local, organic fruits and vegetables — quite the amazing job. Each season, we purchase local fruits and process them for any and every texture and flavor profile possible. We have a wine director, our beer comes from local breweries, and the bartenders at Haven put their own spin on bar favorites as well.
In one word, characterize Oakland’s cocktail scene.
Growing. (Just don’t move to Oakland!)
What do you drink when you have people over for Thanksgiving?
More than likely, a bunch of whiskey and tequila, beer for chasing, and really good wine that no one lived long enough to enjoy.
Name one mixer that every bar enthusiast should have at home.
What’s your favorite kind of cocktail to make?
Any cocktail that shares equal parts of different spirits — for example, The Last Word. In my spare time behind the bar I search for perfect combinations of equal volume that create harmonious flavors.
To experience Friendsgiving at Haven firsthand, catch our video below.
For more, including Charlie Parker’s Northern California “friendsgiving” menu, head to our Open Kitchen: Haven page.