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Bar Shift: Two San Francisco Bartenders Rocked One of Mexico City’s Best Bars | Partner Tip

For the first time ever, Bar Shift went international last week.

On Monday, August 17, two—that’s right, two—San Francisco bartenders, Caitlin Laman and John Codd, traveled to Mexico City to work a guest shift at the Mexican capital’s celebrated bar Limantour.  


One of the two had been to Mexico recently; the other hadn’t been in ages. Both had singular experiences during their time in the D.F. (Distrito Federal), as the locals call Mexico City.


Laman grew up in Portland, Oregon, and her first bartending gig was at a divey sports bar in Boston. From there, she worked in boutique hotels in New York and a ski resort in Utah before landing in San Francisco in 2009. She now runs the lauded bar Trick Dog in San Francisco’s Mission district and snagged the 2014 crown at the annual Speed Rack competition.

Earlier this year, Laman visited Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, and, in addition to drinking a whole lot of mezcal, became a huge fan of agua de jamaica, a refreshing beverage made with hibiscus flowers. As an homage to that experience, Laman created Calle Las Dalias, a cocktail made with Bacardi Superior, lime juice and hibiscus syrup. Think Daiquiri with a layover in Mexico.  

John Codd, unlike Laman, needed to get a new passport for the trip.

Codd was raised in Texas then Monterey, California, before settling in Oakland, California, at the age of 17. There, he started working at Grand Tavern, before being hired as senior bartender at San Francisco’s high-volume North Beach bar 15 Romolo. Stints at The Slanted Door and the now-shuttered Coachman followed and Codd is currently the beverage director for Gaspar Brasserie, whose upstairs space, The Cognac Room, features the largest selection of brandy cocktails in San Francisco.

Because “everyone loves a brown, bitter and stirred cocktail,” Codd poured his BBS drink, made with Bacardi 8 Años Rum, Dewar’s 12-Year-Old Scotch and Martini Rosso. This was Codd’s most popular drink of the night at Bar Shift Mexico City, proving his point that, yes, people do love a drink that’s BBS.


No bartender works in precisely the same way. And Bar Shift Mexico City proved that adage.

Upstairs at Limantour, Laman manned the upper-level bar, along with Limantour bartender Jose Luis Leon. In addition to her Calle Las Dalias, Laman poured two other cocktails: Goodnight Bern with Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años and Fernet-Vallet; and Bake n’ Shark with Bacardi Añejo Rum, amontillado Sherry, orgeat and a lively hit of guava juice. At Trick Dog, where the drinks come fast and furious, Laman wears an apron to cope with the inevitable spillage. Codd gently poked fun at Laman, dubbing her “messy.”

Downstairs, working with Limantour’s Adrian Borgaro and Oscar Valle, Codd worked at a more deliberate pace—so deliberate that Laman, in retribution, jokingly called him “slow.” Codd stirred loads of the best-selling BBS, plus his two additional cocktails which had a different set of flavor profiles. The Final Judgment featured Bombay Sapphire, pear puree and absinthe served in a coupe, and the Summer Shorts blended Bacardi Añejo, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and fresh cantaloupe—all loaded into a Collins glass.

And the two also had a surprise come their way while they were in Mexico City: a visit to Bacardi’s nearby distillery, a place of rich history that houses a 17th-century church—all hosted by the Bacardi team and Bacardi Maestro Jose Sanchez. The two San Francisco bartenders were walked through the fermentation and distillation processes, observing the fermentation tanks and column stills. They also learned about the water, molasses and yeast used in the production of Bacardi Rums. After the tour, everyone was served a delicious poolside lunch, accompanied—of course—by superb Bacardi Mojitos and Daiquiris.


If you missed this round in Mexico City, don’t panic. Liquor.com’s Bar Shift program sponsored by BACARDÍ® USA has one more city swap in the works this year—in New York. At every Bar Shift, guests have the rare opportunity to watch a top bartender work the shift of a lifetime that will forever influence his or her craft behind the bar. The best part of being a guest? You get to drink the results.
Learn all about Liquor.com’s Bar Shift program sponsored by BACARDÍ® USA now: where one night can change a bartender’s career.

Check out these videos from Bar Shift Mexico City

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