Danny Kuehner

Danny Kuehner

  • Danny Kuehner
  • Madison
  • 4622 Park Boulevard
  • University Heights

“What’s your most interesting drink?” I ask Danny Kuehner, bartender for Madison in University Heights. His answer, the Queen of Crowns, does not disappoint, in part because it includes a tarot card coaster and a palo santo cleanse. “When you get it served to you, they let you pick the card, they light the stick on fire for you, and they open up the book and tell you what the card means — it’s a whole thing! It’s really fun and interactive. Makes it more of an experience than just getting a drink.” And the lit palo santo contributes to the Queen of Crowns’ spiritual vibes. “It’s kind of like an incense — in Spanish, it means ‘holy wood.’ It’s almost like if you were to burn sage… it has a cleansing effect to it.”



4622 Park Boulevard, San Diego

There’s plenty to unpack with this dainty purple-hued coup cocktail. “Butterfly pea powder is blue,” Kuehner explains, “but then when you add citrus to it, it turns purple. It gives the drink this really beautiful purple color. It’s like a natural dye that people used for thousands of years. It kind of fell off when we invented food coloring. And now it’s making a resurgence. It’s cool to get back to the more natural.”

Kuehner breaks down the body of the cocktail. “The fennel seed liqueur has a very light black licorice flavor, but it’s mellow, not really in the forefront. And it plays really well with the peach liqueur. And lemon juice gives it that tart, refreshing feeling.” Fee Brothers Fee Foam, an egg white substitute, creates the foamy finishing touch. “It gives it a frothiness on top and a nice soft mouthfeel.”

The gin he uses is sourced from You & Yours, based in East Village. “We try to use small and interesting producers, local if possible,” he says, adding, “This is their Sunday gin, which is a lot lighter of a gin. It doesn’t have super pronounced gin flavors, so it’s not super juniper-y or piney. That’s why it works really well in this cocktail, because it lets all the flavors come to the top. It’s really nuanced.” It’s also infused with amethyst. “On the full moon, we leave the crystals out, so they can get charged. And then we take them and drop them in the gin. It doesn’t impart any flavor, it’s just the energy — as much as you want to believe.”

I’m not sure how to feel about the card I’ve picked — the Seven of Swords, alluding to secrecy or self-interest, according to the book. “Now that we’ve done it for a while,” says Kuehner, “everyone knows that there’s a million different ways to interpret a tarot card. For the most part, they’re all good, or they all can be good. It’s all a learning process.” (But just for the record, he states, “We’re not tarot readers.”)

Queen of Crowns

  • Madison’s
  • Queen of Crowns
  • 3/4 oz. butterfly pea powder syrup
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. fennel seed liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. peach liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz. You & Yours Sunday Gin (infused with amethyst crystal)
  • 3 dashes Fee Brothers Fee Foam (vegan egg white substitute)
  • Mix ingredients in a tin shaker with ice, strain into a coupe glass and top with egg white foam. Garnish with a lit palo santo stick and serve on a tarot card coaster.

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