How long have you been bartending and how did you get started?
I started working bars in early 2003, just before I started culinary school for patissiere and baking. I had just left a seven year career in animation and needed to find something new, so I jumped into food and beverage. As it turned out, I preferred front of house to being in front of an oven or dough sheeter.
What is your favorite bar right now?
That’s a good question. I think I’d have to go with the Black Forest because it’s casual and unpretentious. My friends do events there often so I find myself there for some of those and always end up in some wacky conversation over pear brandy or a huge beer. Sounds cliche but if I want a really good drink I’ll walk a bit further to Eat Street Social. It’s one of the benefits of living in Whittier.
Where can readers find your drinks?
For the last few years I’ve been with Chowgirls Killer Catering so you’d either have to be invited to a wedding or come by one of our gallery openings for a beverage. I just started with Scena, which will open in the next month or so, and I’m looking forward to the cocktail magic I’ll be turned on to there. That’s going to be the place to be this fall.
What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
Invest in some good bar tools—they’re not just for geeks and professionals. You’ll be surprised at how good your concoctions will be, and your friends and party guests will notice, too.
What is a memorable moment of your bartending career?
Not long after I started tending bar, our cantina hosted the first Burning Man Decompression party in Los Angeles. We were the only bar open in a gated event that had some 2000 or so people and we were not properly prepared for this. It was a blur; I remember being the only bartender at one point and I was running out of cups and ice and I later discovered my barbacks were too busy outside gawking at women in barely-there Playa wear. There were so many people I felt like I’d never get to them all. My friend, Paul, who had worked the bar in a past life, saw I was freaking out and totally overwhelmed and said, “You’re in the weeds, brother, you just have to be there.” And it was true. You just gotta make one drink at a time and that’s that. It’s a very important lesson for newbie bartenders.
So a recipe? Ok. I recently have been loving swapping whiskey for my gin in my negronis—a boulevardier. Then I ran out of Campari and decided to use Aperol, like they do at the Sample Room.
1.5 oz Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon
.75 oz Dolin sweet vermouth
.75 oz Aperol
2 eye droppers Bittercube Blackstrap bitters
Add all over ice, stir to perfection, strain into your favorite cocktail glass.