Kevin Diedrich is the bar manager of Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen. The San Francisco Chronicle recently named him one of five Bay Area “Bar Stars.” Most recently seen behind the bar at the Burritt Room, Diedrich previously worked at Michael Mina’s Clock Bar and Cask in San Francisco, as well as the renowned PDT and Clover Club in New York City. Before his New York stints, Diedrich also worked at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak and the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C. BAB caught up with Diedrich via an email interview.
“I just started working with Plymouth/Beefeater for a couple months to do their Gin Connoisseur Program. It consists of pretty much increasing the knowledge and appreciation of gin. It’s like a mini-brand ambassador job, but specifically SF.
I also just started the Northern California USBG’s (United States Bartenders Guild) first flag football team. Our goal is go down and battle SoCal USBG (LA and San Diego)…I mean DESTROY them!”
How did Jasper’s come about?
“I was having beers with Jacques Bezuidenhout one night and he was talking about the new concept for Ponzu. It intrigued me and sounded like a great challenge—to build a gastro pub that’s really only known for beers, but to also oversee the entire bar program and to create some amazing cocktails.”
Where do you live?
“Nob Hill. It’s an easy commute for my wife. She works in the Financial District and Jasper’s is 3 blocks from our apartment.”
Where are you from?
“I was born in a little town outside of Manila, Philippines, but grew up in Northern Virginia, just 15 minutes from Washington DC.”
What are your favorite spots to shop for food?
“I’d have to say the Ferry Building on Saturdays are always fun. Just to walk around and see all the fresh fruits and herbs, it gets the mind going. Rainbow Grocery is also great. They have a huge selection of dried herbs and botanicals to make bitters and tinctures.
And then my all time favorite is a place in NYC that I use to go to all the time is called Kalustyans. We used to live a block away, and it’s a bartenders dream. Every spice imaginable! This place just inspires you to make a drink. I still order from them over the phone.”
What are your favorite local (off-night) food & drink spots?
“My wife and I love Gitane. The dishes are small, so you can order plenty, and Alex Smith does an amazing job with the cocktail list there. I love the flatbreads and the bacon bonbons. Hecho is also really good. It just opened up a few months ago, and the dishes are amazing. We love Japanese food, so any chance to get real good Japanese food, we’re in. They mix it with a Tequila bar theme and it’s all good!”
What are your favorite local joints?
“We go to Cantina quite often. It’s just down the street from us and they allow dogs. I usually stop by for a quick beer or a Negroni while walking the dog. Duggan, Aaron, Shaher and the guys there always are fun to talk to. Rye is another great spot and I love popping in quick for some beers and shots. I competed in my first cocktail competition when Rye was doing their Monthly Mixology Battles when I first lived here.”
What are your favorite date or off-night spots?
“My wife and I love doing brunch at Zero Zero … fried chicken and waffles, enough said. NOPA does a great brunch too, scrambled eggs are delicious there.”
What is your favorite meal to have with friends and/or family?
“My wife does a lot of cooking at home, and makes amazing food. She’s always got something good for me when I get home at 3 a.m. She does popovers with Gruyere cheese that are soooo good. She also makes some killer ramen and an amazing cheesecake.”
Guiltiest food pleasure?
“I’m a sucker for ice cream. I can eat it for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, dessert.”
How did you meet your wife?
“We met when we both lived and worked in DC. Arlene was a cocktail waitress at the club where I was bartending. She played hard to get and I used to call her and hang up. We dated briefly before I transferred with the Ritz Carlton out to SF (the first time I lived here). We kept in touch here and there, but reunited when I moved back to DC to work for Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak. She was living in NYC at the time. I called her and took the bus up to NYC to see her. That was it for us after the first trip. I would take the bus up on my 2 days off to see her and ended up proposing to her and moving up to NYC to be with her.” Diedrich noted that the two own a pit bull dog named Kona “after the big island; Arlene is Japanese/Hawaiian.”