Sipping Tiki drinks with Hillary Hestead

Meet Hillary Hestead, bartender at False Idol, as she shares her love for tiki drinks in the city.

Hillary Hestead moved to San Diego in 2014, starting off as a barista at a local coffee shop, where she made friends with some bartenders from cocktail bar Noble Experiment. “They’d come in and get triple shot espressos before their shift” reminisced Hillary. 

Her bartender friends were the masterminds behind Rare Form in San Diego, where she made the cut and moved up from counter service to barback to bartender. Today, Hillary is a bartender at False Idol, San Diego, where she’s known for her delicious tiki cocktails - especially the blue ones.


What inspired you to get into bartending?

For me, it was all the learning.  Rare Form taught me everything I needed to know to be successful behind the bar. Once False Idol was close to opening I was again trained by the best. And Tiki drinks sealed the deal! 

Tiki drinks are a whole other realm. There are no rules.. just memorization and fast hands. The community on both sides of the bar is something I’m very grateful for. 

What are some of the most important skills for a bartender to have?

Dedication, ability to adapt, memorization, genuine connection, and patience. 

What is your favorite cocktail to make at home? 

Gin n Tonics! 

What's one essential barware that everyone should have at home?

Ice cube tray! Ice is the most important ingredient in a cocktail.

What are your favorite places to drink at when you’re not working?

Cantina Mayahuel, best Happy Hour. I also frequent Ironside for Happy Hour and their everything raw bar. 

The funniest story you heard at the bar?

I don’t know if this qualifies as a ‘story’ but when a bachelor party sang Take Me Home, County Road off and on for the majority of their stay, it was hilarious!

What has been your most bizarre client request?

Music requests.

What are your favorite TV shows right now? Or your favorite movie?

The Challenge on MTV & most Bravo reality shows. 


False Idol, source: Facebook

Is False Idol open? What are some of the safety measures you’re taking?

Yes! False Idol is open 7 days a week. We have partitions in place and are pacing out our walk-in guests. 

What are you drinking right now?

Iced coffee from yesterday. 

What’s the most underrated cocktail ingredient or spirit?

I think Gin can be underrated. Same with Rum. 

What’s the last good book you read that stuck with you?

Ninety Years Of Classic San Diego Tiki by Martin S. Lindsay.

What are some upcoming drinks trends to look out for?

Frozen drinks are making a comeback, just in time for the summer. 

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