Spotlight: Danny Ojinaga, Bartender & General Manager, Mario & John’s, Petaluma, CA

Danny Ojinaga, Bartender & General Manager, Mario & John’s, Petaluma, CA

Bartender Danny Ojinaga enjoys spontaneous requests from customers at Mario & John’s in Petaluma, CA, and sparks conversation with different references to books, movies and TV shows.

“I’m kind of known for making stuff up on the fly and I really like to play on words but naming the cocktails I swear is actually harder than making the cocktails,” he says, laughing.

Making the drinks is easy in part because Danny relies on flavors from The Perfect Purée to complement his favorite spirits, like mezcal with smoky-sweet Carmelized Pineapple Concentrate, Campari, lime juice and edible flower garnish in a drink he called “If Loving You Is Wrong…”

“It’s something I whipped up for a gal who used to work for us who came in with a couple of girlfriends,” he says.

For his boss, who’s a big Seinfeld fan, he concocted “No Soup for You” with The Perfect Purée Pomegranate Concentrate, Tapatio Tequila Blanco and pumpkin bitters.

Mario & John’s has been a lively gathering place since 1946 and, since reopening after a hiatus four years ago, is an emerging craft cocktail destination with more than 500 spirits and a passion for fresh, local ingredients.

“It’s unassuming from the outside but you come in and it’s just this wonderland,” says Danny, raving about ingredients from neighboring gardens like pineapple sage, chocolate mint and honey.

Danny began mixing with The Perfect Purée in 2004 when he worked at Monti’s in Santa Rosa. He won first place at the June, 2013, Wine Country Cocktail Competition with his Zest Tea Fizz, a foamy tropical-citrus concoction featuring The Perfect Purée Coconut Puree, Charbay Green Tea Vodka, lemon juice infused with kaffir lime leaves, orange zest, egg white and ginger beer.

He also competed in the Wizards of Elixirs Cocktail Competition sponsored by The Perfect Purée and Charbay to benefit people affected by the Northern California fires in October, 2017.

Thanks A Latte featured The Perfect Purée Yuzu Luxe Sour blend, Charbay Green Tea Vodka and Tequila Tapatio Blanco. For autumn flavor, Danny added pecan-infused Campari, ginger syrup, cold-brew coffee and a dash of pumpkin spice.

Danny was profiled in Chilled Magazine for a signature gin cocktail featuring apple and fennel syrup, which he makes by adding fennel to macerated apple.

“I’m big into making syrups but even though we’re a craft cocktail bar, we don’t make every syrup and a ton of tinctures and infusions, or the syrups don’t always turn out great, so we try to find quality stuff that we can bring into the bar,” says Danny. “The purées are always consistent, so you can use the flavors you need without adding other stuff on top of that. I love cocktails that have layers.”