Keeping Good Cocktail Company: My Fave L.A. Bartenders

— by Caroline on Crack

Bar Lubitsch

Last night I judged a Martin Miller’s Gin & tonic competition at The Edison (fun!), more on that in a future post, but I ran into Marcos Tello and Michel Dozois, old friends/fave bartenders, after having not seen them since “the incident.” Anyhow they caught me up on what they’re up to and more importantly where I can now visit them if I want a cocktail done right.

Well, I can’t keep everyone’s schedules in my head so thought it best to write them down. While I’m at it, I thought it was the best time to finally share a list of my favorite L.A. bartenders so you, my dear crackheads, can enjoy their company and cocktails, too. Damn, I love these guys. They just know how to make a damn tasty cocktail (sorry for all the swearing) whether with creative mixology or a heavy pour, plus they are such darlings.

Adam Milstein of South: I know what you’re thinking, “How can a Santa Monica sports bar know anything about making a good cocktail?” Well Adam, part-owner of South and a sweetheart to boot, does. And the specialty cocktail menu at this Southern-themed bar is delightful — from the mint julep to the pineapple upside down cake — especially to cool down those long hot summer days. Obviously, Adam is invested in keeping his customers happy and coming back for more and that’s just why I keep coming back to South; the hush puppies and mac and cheese help, too. Plus, did I already mention that Adam’s a sweetheart? I always go during the early hours of the evening, like right after work as I really hate it when it gets crowded.

  • Hours: Thursdays and Fridays 6pm to close.

Chris Ojeda of Osteria Mozza: OK, honestly I just met Chris last night when he was judging the gin and tonic contest alongside me but just watching him and listening to him talk about what goes into a great cocktail, I could tell his cocktail knowledge was vast. Plus, he runs For Medicinal Purposes with my other fave mixologists Damian Windsor (Gordon Ramsay at the London) and Marcos Tello (Comme Ca and The Edison). Sold! Chris’ favorite cocktails to make are the classics but you can also ask him for Osteria’s specialty, Amaro cocktails (these incorporate the Italian digestivo), or for their newest cocktail which combines balsamic vinegar and housemade foam. Fancy.

  • Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights til close.

Christine D’Abrosca of Malo: I just blogged about the tasty tequila cocktails at Malo but if you want to have them made from one of the best there, check Christine out. Her favorite drink to make is the Rosita, a little number that’s only on the special menu. This cocktail comes with some pyrotechnics in the form of a flaming orange peel. In the drink you’ll enjoy Gran Centenario Reposado, Aperol, Carpano Antica, dry Vermouth and a couple dashes of orange bitters. Caliente!

  • Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.

Jared Meisler of Bar Lubitsch: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Bar Lubitsch is THE place to go to for some great vodka cocktails. A big deal to me considering I’m first and foremost a whiskey gal. But there, they have none of those frou-frou over-the-top juicy-liqueurs-creams-flavored-vodka concoctions. Just tasty, straightforward and potent goodness. Mmm, Ninotchka — Jared’s other specialties are the cucumber gimlet and the Lubitsch Touch. As owner of BL, Jared obviously knows how to make his special cocktails — how they should taste and how they should be presented. He takes the cocktailing seriously and that’s why I’m more than excited to have my blogiversary party at this hip West Hollywood bar this August 5th. Woo hoo! Can’t wait!

  • Hours: Friday nights til close.

Marcos Tellos of Comme Ca and The Edison: This uber-talented cocktail connoisseur runs cocktail catering company For Medicinal Purposes where he, along with Damian Windsor and Chris Ojeda (Osteria Mozza), reinvents and creates cocktail menus for restaurants and high-profile events. Now he works the cocktail shaker at two really high-end places, one a hip WeHo restaurant and the other a swank downtown hot spot.

  • Hours: Comme Ca on Mondays and Tuesdays 7-10pm and The Edison on Wednesdays and Thursdays til close.

Michel Dozois of Comme Ca: When he’s not running his gourmet ice company La Glace — shotglass ice cubes, rosemary sprigs on ice, etc. — he’s slinging drinks at Comme Ca. Unfortunately Michel and Marcos don’t work the same nights but I guess that just assures you’ll get a good cocktail made regardless what night you go. In any case, Michel suggests that would-be bar diners call ahead the day they intend to go and ask for however many seats at the bar and he’ll reserve them. Usually there are only five bar stools available (five!) but Michel always manages to squeeze one more in. He’s a character, that one.

  • Hours: Wednesday and Saturday nights.

Stephen Smith of The Griffin: I remember the first drink Stephen ever made for me like it was yesterday. Actually it was just this past April but it sealed the deal for making this Atwater bar one of my faves. Stephen is the bar manager here and can pour a mean Manhattan. Mmm. Very charismatic and chatty, he keeps his customers laughing and well taken care of.

  • Hours: Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Steve Taschler of Rush Street: This new Chicago-esque restaurant/bar in Culver City hasn’t opened yet (its public opening is scheduled for July 11) but Steve, my ol’ buddy bartender from Ford’s Filling Station, has confirmed that he will in fact be putting in the hours there. I met Steve at Ford’s and followed him to Kumo. Bartending may not be his first love but he has the creativity and the listening skills to make you just the drink you want to suit your mood. He’s kept me entertained by my simple request to “make me something sweet but not too sweet.”

  • Hours: Wednesday-Saturday nights.

Still waiting to hear back from some of my other faves, but I’ll update this post when I do.