Category Archives: Interview with a bartender!

Interview with a Bartender: Jaymee Mandeville

This week I am pleased to be putting up an interview with one of the successful female Bartenders here in Los Angeles.  If you find yourself in Downtown LA any time soon, I recommend you head in to Drago Centro (Review coming soon) and check out the bar program put together by Jaymee Mandeville. This vibrant and talented lady has created an interesting and well executed drinks list with unusual ingredients such as Dill Meringue and Squid Ink Syrup.  Head in any night other than Tuesday or Sunday and you can enjoy a drink made by Jaymee herself.

Jaymee Mandeville

Official Job Title: Bar Manager
Born: South Korea, adopted at 16 mos. Grew up in Orange County, CA
Currently Resides:  Los Angeles, CA
Current Work locations:  Drago Centro Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri & Sat nights
Touring 2012 with Cari Hah (Neat Bar) “Lil’ Twisted Sangrita Tour”
May 29 Las Perlas
June 24 City Tavern
 

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Q & A

Where was the first bar you worked at, and what was your position there?
At age 19 I worked as a beverage cart girl in college….(they thought I was 21) so I made Manhattans at 6 am with mini-bottles of Martini Rossi and Jim Beam on the golf course.
 
Who is/was your mentor? Who do you feel trained you in your area of expertise?
Michael Shearin has been a huge inspiration to me in wine and spirits, and continues to be a close friend.
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
I don’t think so.  I think I am open to trying anything. I just dislike all creamy salad dressings, most white condiments (i.e. mayonnaise, aioli,  Alfredo sauce, hollandaise (to name a few)…..actually we should open it up to most condiments, ketchup, mustard, relish.  1000 dressing is my worst nightmare. Oh and I don’t like sweets…I don’t hate them, but I could definitely live without them.
 
What is the most unusual dish or ingredient you’ve ever tasted?
Worm salt  (so weird, but surprisingly good, it tastes like sea salt and pepper combined.) I think Cari and I will be using it in one of our upcoming sangritas.
 
What is your favorite “Classic” Drink/Cocktail?
Negroni
 
As a female bartender have you ever felt like you’re not being taken as seriously by the male dominating Cocktail community?
Honestly, no, but I always welcome any challenge. I think the females in this city are very strong.  We just started a LUPEC chapter here in LA and it has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing and talented females in our industry.
 
What is the best thing about what you do? 
Making drinks…..I love it….I love creating, imbibing, and sharing the love with others
 
What is the Worst thing about what you do?
Evenings…I feel like I never really have an evening off to do silly things like take a sunset hike or cook a normal dinner
 
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
I really wanted to be a super model and travel the world….unfortunately my height topped out at 5’2
 
Do you see yourself bartending forever or are there other career avenues you plan to explore?
I feel that bartending is a great creative and social outlet, I don’t see myself doing it forever, but I do see myself using this skill set in many ways moving forward.  I love traveling…if I could be like the jet-setter Angus Winchester, that would be amazing.
 

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If you would like to be considered for this segment of my site please send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!Please note: I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who think ‘Sweet and Sour Mix’ is a great product, bartend only for the joy of extra cash and have no interest in the cocktail community itself, need not apply!

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Interview with a Bartender: Giovanni Martinez

Today my Bartender of choice is former Chivas Regal Brand Ambassador (2007), Bar Consultant and Spirits Director Giovanni Martinez.  Consultant for both the New York and Los Angeles Fig & Olive Restaurants, as well as Buffalo Club in Santa Monica, he can now be found working on drinks at Sadie in Hollywood.

I have known Gio personally for a couple of years now, due to his close friendship with his work colleague, my boyfriend, Greg Bryson (AKA FutureGreg.)   He is extremely passionate about alcohol and creating drinks, he’s entertaining, friendly and always the life of the party!

Giovanni Martinez

AKA: Gio
Official Job Title: Spirits Director
Born: Los Angeles, California
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, California
Current Work locations: Sadie, Hollywood


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Q & A

What is the best thing about what you do? 
Opening the door for people and watching them step into a new World of drinking which they never expected to be in but now enjoy being a part of.
 
What is the Worst thing about what you do?
Cleaning out clogged floor sinks
 
Who would you say is your mentor? Who do you feel trained you in your area of expertise?
Max Warner and Colin Appiah probably influenced me the most in regards to dealing with having a commitment to  excellence whilst keeping the customer the number one priority.
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA?
I have a great time at Harvard and Stone.
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
Not much. I won’t eat Domestic animals or Animals of high intelligence (except the occasional pork, they’re just so tasty).
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
Unusual is so relative….Crickets.
  
What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice?
Umm….. In a Punch or Sour- Gin, in a Cocktail- Rye, Neat- Scotch or Tequila.
  
What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
I really like Martinez’s and Last Word’s.
  
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
Teach history.
  
If you could live anywhere in the World where would it be? and Why?
London or Bora Bora.  London because I’ve always had a stupendous time there, and Bora Bora cause, well, duh. But I couldn’t live anywhere but Los Angeles for very long, after all this is, to quote Steve Martin falsely quoting Shakespeare:
 
“This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
The envy of less happier lands, 
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this Los Angeles”
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this segment of my site please send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!

Please note: I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who think ‘Sweet and Sour Mix’ is a great product, bartend only for the joy of extra cash and have no interest in the cocktail community itself, need not apply!

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Interview with a Bartender: Arash Pakzad

I have mentioned Neat bar a few times in previous posts, for two distinct reasons. One, the owner Aidan Demarest is one of the most interesting, funny and charismatic people you will ever meet. Two, the drinks are always great and the bartenders really know what they’re doing there.

I have plenty to say about this place and it’s innovative concept, so be sure to check back in the next few weeks when I will be putting up a review of the bar itself. For now, here is a little interview with one of their top barmen Arash Pakzad.  (Please note the photo used below is copyright to Raul Villarreal of rAwkfoto.)

Arash Pakzad

Official Job Title: Head Bartender
Born: San Francisco, California
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, California
Current Work locations:
Neat Bar, Glendale CA (Basically all the time)
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*****

 Q & A


What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice?
High Proof Rye Whiskey and Islay Scotch, also a good Reposado Tequila
 
What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
Sazerac
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
Not too fussy, I’ll try anything as long as I kill it or it’s been killed for me.
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
Cow Tongue Stew, Brain tacos, Rocky Mountain Oysters – all great.
 
What is the best thing about what you do?
Everything. Pleasing people around me and pleasing myself.

What is the Worst thing about what you do?
I get people nice and tipsy, then I have to stop serving at 2am!
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA?
Mixology bar? You mean a bar that the bartenders know how to make excellent drinks? Tough choice.  I feel like there are only a select number of people in the World that are true mixologists and the term mixology is overused and under-appreciated.  There are some great places in LA though.
 
Who would you say is your mentor? Who trained you in your area of expertise?
Aidan Demarest, Jon Ojinaga, Laurel Sather, Fred Pakzad, John-Eric Sanchez, Ashley Afferino, Edgar Monsivais, All my fellow bartenders that I have had the opportunity to work beside.
 
Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night?
Neat bar in Glendale!
 
If you could live anywhere in the World where would it be? & Why?
San Francisco, CA. Do you have a couple pages of space for me to use to explain why? I have my friends, it’s my birthplace, all that food and the awesome homeless people to give my leftovers to.
 
 

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If you would like to be considered for this new segment send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!  Please note, I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who bartend for extra cash but have no actual interest in the cocktail community need not apply!

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Interview with a Bartender: Gregory Westcott

Today my bartender of choice can be found, more often than not, in the South Bay area at the highly acclaimed ‘Manhattan Beach Post.’  

I went to MB Post when it first opened and liked everything about it.  I loved the decor, the innovative exciting dishes and the creative drinks list. The talented and knowledgeable Chef David LeFevre visited us during our meal there and impressed me not only with the glorious food but with his extremely hospitable attitude and friendly interaction with customers.

I will be back to review this restaurant in coming weeks, but for now here is an informal interview with Gregory Westcott, who is one of the great men behind the bar at MB Post and was featured on NBC’s Television Show (Season 1) of ‘Americas Next Great Restaurant.’ (Please note the photo used below was sent directly from Gregory but is copyright to NBC)

Gregory Westcott

Official Job Title: Mixologist/Bartender
Born: San Dimas, California
Currently resides: Manhattan Beach, California
Current Work locations:
Tuesday-Saturday 5-10.30pm
 

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Q & A


What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
 
Old Fashioned closely followed by a Sazerac, and when I say Old Fashioned, I mean the pre-prohibition cocktail…not the 1970’s ‘Whiskey Sangria” recipe.
 
What is your ‘Go-to’ liquor of choice?
Bourbon or Rye. I just love the complexity of the heat with the caramel and toffee notes meeting a nice barrel char. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. And I just feel like a man when I drink it. I don’t think you can feel that way with vodka.
 
Who is your mentor? or Who do you feel trained you in your area of expertise?
I learned this craft from every bartender who has ever made me a cocktail. I’m obsessive  so I do all the research I can on the cocktails that I enjoy and even the ones I don’t.  The team at the Post also heavily influences my cocktail progression; Sal Roses, Beau du Bois, GM Jerry Garbus and Chef David LeFevre. Every drink idea that we toss around has a little bit of each person in it by the time it reaches the menu…not literally though.
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
I’m fussy when it comes to eating on a daily basis; I try to eat pretty healthy, but when I go out all restrictions are off and there isn’t something I won’t try at least once…except Rocky Mnt. Oysters…I won’t try those!
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
There have been a few at the Post but the Lamb’s Tongue Salad stands out (it was amazing). I also tried a raw pig’s ear once (not so amazing). I love the Rattlesnake and Rabbit sausage at Wurstküche, which doesn’t sound unusual at all anymore.
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA? and Why?
Oldfields in Culver City. They do everything right there. The bartenders are humble and the product they give you is always inventive yet approachable. It feels good to be able to put the responsibility of your good time in a bartender’s hand and have them achieve that with consistency.
 
What is the best thing about what you do? 
There’s a moment when you are engaging someone at your bar and it transcends from the act of putting liquid in a glass to an understanding of my passion for making cocktails. People deserve to have the best drinks I can make and I strive for the connection we share when they appreciate that.
 
What is the Worst thing about what you do?
When someone asks if I’m a bartender or a mixologist and I have to justify a title. If I say Mixologist then I’m pretentious but if I say Bartender then I might not be qualified to design a cocktail menu and might lose some credibility in their eyes.  I’m trying to coin the term “Mixie” but you have to say it with a 1920’s accent.
 
If you were stuck on a desert island and could have a barrel of just one spirit, what would you want it to be?
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 yr old bourbon and hopefully Lindsay Nader would be stuck there too…only to make us cocktails of course.
 
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
I moved to LA to be a writer and the only writing I’ve been paid for are cocktail recipes but I really can’t complain about that.
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this new segment send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!

Please note: I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who think ‘Sweet and Sour Mix’ is a great product, bartend only for the joy of extra cash and have no interest in the cocktail community, need not apply!

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Interview with a Bartender: Daniel Parino

By the powers of photoshop I finally have a cover for this segment! Hooray!

Ok, so I thought it would be fun to interview Bartenders/Mixologists across the City in a really informal way.  In the past few weeks when I meet someone who interests me behind the bar, or I know of their talents through word of mouth etc I send a questionnaire of 14 questions (my lucky number) for them to answer at their leisure.  I won’t put up all the answers they give me, just a handful of my favorites.

I am so  grateful to everyone who replied so far, I will make sure you all make it to the website within the coming months.  This is the first one that arrived in my inbox and therefore gets to go before everyone else!  It comes from the ever so sweet and always friendly Daniel Parino… Enjoy!

Daniel Parino

Official Job Title: Bartender
Born: San Francisco, California
Currently resides: Los Angeles, California
Current Work locations:
Sadie: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Father’s Office: Tuesday and Sunday

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Q & A

Who would you say is your mentor/trained you in your area of expertise?

Giovanni Martinez and FutureGreg (Greg Bryson)

What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?

The Manhattan

What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice?

Tequila.  I like tequila because it wrestles alligators in the morning and takes the princess to the ball in the evening.  It can be as high or as low class as you want it.  It can punch you in the face, or massage out your smallest woe.

Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?

No, there’s pretty much nothing I won’t try.  I don’t like mushrooms and I really wish I did, ’cause everyone else seems to think they are so awesome.  I keep trying them and keep not liking them.  It’s sad.

What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?

Fish head curry…or sweet and sour veal brains….. I don’t know, I grew up in Thailand, so to be honest, I’ve eaten a lot of things I’m pretty glad I don’t know what was in them.

What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA? and Why?

Sadie cause the bar staff is so handsome!!!!  Just kidding.  I would say either The Varnish, because they just do everything right, or MBPost, because everyone in LA is working on the classics, and then on their own creative ingredient focused drinks, and MBPost combines the two. 

Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night?

My Saturday night’s have a pretty big swing, I love a night of Old Tom Gin with cucumber/celery bitters and kumquats, but I also like a solid night of PBR and Jameson shots.  I think it’s important to be a well-rounded drinker, it makes it easier to serve the “Fussy Ones”

What is the best thing about what you do? 

Surprising people.  The look on their faces when they never realized a drink could taste like that is definitely the best part of the job.  Or tricking vodka drinkers into drinking gin, cause its funny and they should branch out.

What is the Worst thing about what you do?

“No, man, I’m sorry, we don’t use Red Bull here”

If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?

Write the great American novel

*****
If you would like to be considered for this new segment send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!  Please note, I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who bartend just for extra cash but with no interest in the cocktail community  need not apply!

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