Tag Archives: Neat

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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Drink of the Week

The Akira Kurasawa

  • 2 Japanese cucumber slices
  • 1 Shiso Leaf
  • 1 1/2 oz Pisco
  • 1/2 oz Negori Sake (unfiltered)
  • 1/2 oz Agave
  • 3/4oz Lime juice
  • Dash of Yuzu essence
  • Top off with Aloe Vera juice

Muddle fruit, Shake and Serve on the Rocks

Garnish: A cucumber slice

Created by Yuval Soffer of Neat, I had this drink for the first time this week-end and loved it. Yuval has chosen to play with some different Japanese flavors- the Sake, Yuzu essence, Shiso leaves and Japanese cucumbers create an interesting combination.  The event I attended had him using Pisco Porton which is actually a great Pisco with complex flavors, slightly earthy but smooth with residual sugars. It complemented this drink beautifully.  The drink is refreshing, light and sweet.  The Aloe Vera juice adds something really different and was a taste I don’t think i’d ever actually experienced before.  I know it’s a lot of fairly unusual ingredients to find for this recipe, but if you get a chance I strongly recommend trying it.

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Big Bar Prom = Big Success!

Event: “Midnight in Paris” Prom 2012

Big Bar and Alcove Cafe  

1929 Hillhurst Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90027

(323) 644-0100

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For the second year in a row the Valentines Day Prom at Big Bar was a huge success.  Hosted by Eugene Lee and Dan Long, they also had Aidan Demarest of Neat returning as MC. This year the party theme was “Midnight in Paris”, and they went all out transforming their great space in to a Parisian paradise.

I should mention in advance I enjoyed the night even more when I was voted to be a member of the Royal Court, and later in the night was fortunate enough to go on and win (with my boyfriend FG) the title of PROM KING AND QUEEN!! It wasn’t fixed I swear, I just made sure to include the words “World Peace” in my speech, and tell the crowd Aidan would be buying everyone a drink if we won! Worked a charm.

I want to start with a big thanks to Eugene and Dan for making the evening such a success as well as the judges Jessica Borges (City Sip) and Whitney Olschwanger for picking us as Prom King and Queen. We really appreciated our prize of the beautifully romantic horse drawn carriage ride! I always enjoy meeting new and fun people in the cocktail community and the carriage ride was just an additional treat to an already great Valentines Day.

I had such a fun night (even before I won a crown!) and was impressed with the overall set up of the place.  They had a number of interesting drink concoctions, activities and foods. There really was something for everyone. There was a Punch Garden, a make-your-own-cocktail setup (partnering with Miracle Mile Bitters), and a French inspired specialty cocktail list created by Daniel Long.

There were Mimes, an Accordion player, French singers, Characuture Artists and a Prom picture station set up. Everything you could want to feel whisked away to France!

The courtyard was beautiful with fairy lights adorning the trees and the 17ft Eiffel Tower in the middle really added to the overall atmosphere of the night.  I can imagine that even without the tower the courtyard is a beautiful space to sit and enjoy cocktails. I hear they have a wonderful Sunday brunch with Mimosas and I can totally see this place being great in the day time too.  It was a chilly night, but they have a lot of heat lamps so we survived outside.

If you’ve never been to Big Bar or Alcove Cafe & Bakery (which I hadn’t until this event) let me paint a quick picture of the venue.  After passing through the  beautifully lit courtyard you enter a building which divides in to two spaces, Alcove Bakery on the right and Big Bar on the left. I couldn’t help but think “What an interesting mix of two genres…pastries and cocktails!”

            

It does feel like two distinct spaces but they complement each other in their diversity. Also, I can’t imagine anything better than stumbling out of a bar in to a bakery at 1 o’clock in the morning… It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘Bartenders Breakfast!’

I do plan to review this place again on a ‘normal’ night, because it had such a great feel to it and i’m told the food is very good. I would imagine this to be true as the ‘French themed’ Hors d’oeuvres I had at the event were truly delicious.  We ordered a selection of food items which included the Croque Monsieur (little cheese and ham baguettes-Delicious!), Angus Beef Sliders with avocado and crispy bacon (I believe they have these on the regular menu and I highly recommend. We ended up ordering 3 servings!), Crab cakes (a little spicy, but lots of flavor) and Goat Cheese stuffed Medjool Dates wrapped in Bacon (need I say more! Yum!).

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COCKTAILS

As I mentioned above, Dan Long (Originally of First & Hope) put together a cocktail list inspired by the French theme of the night.  I started with the “Le Vie En Rose’.

First off, it was an attractive looking drink with lots of color, a large ice cube (I always love) and a  beautiful rose petal garnish.  It had a distinct floral taste throughout, was light but flavorful.  It was a pleasent drink overall, but just a little sour for my liking. I’m not sure what their ratio is at Big Bar but I found the majority of drinks to be a little on the sour side for me.  Having said that, ‘Le Vie En Rose’ definitely grew on me the more I sipped it and I found myself finishing the whole thing with no concern for a lack of sweetness!

Le Vie En Rose: Hudson white Whiskey, Rhuby Liqueur, Lime, Honey, Rose Essence

FG had ‘Le Cercle Rouge’. I enjoyed certain aspects of this drink. Hendricks Gin is one of my favorites, and like the ‘Le Vie En Rose’ drink this too had subtle floral flavorings in it, although was slightly more citric from the lemon.  It was a well balanced and interesting mix of flavors, sadly I just cannot get myself to like the taste of absinthe no matter how hard I try! FG certainly liked it though and devoured it quickly.

Le Cercle Rouge: Hendricks Gin, Solerno, Lillet rouge, Lemon, Absinthe

The champagne cocktail section was the most interesting to me and one of my favorite ‘areas’ of the event.  You had to pick your sugar cube (brown or white), then your bitters (from a large selection of Miracle Mile Bitters. that included Chocolate/Chili, Castilian, Gingerbread, Peach, Forbidden, Valentine and Orange)  and then decide between Rosé or Sparkling wine.  FG created a drink for me and decided to go for the ‘Valentine Bitters’.

The flavors were strawberry and rose, they smelt romantic and girlie to me, like strawberry blossom. These particular bitters were created especially for Big Bar by Louis Anderman (founder or Miracle Mile Bitters Co.) and were a “first attempt” he says, created just weeks earlier specifically for Prom.  In my opinion they turned out pretty darn good for a first shot! The strawberry notes and floral elements complimented the bubbles perfectly. It ended up being the simplest, but possibly the best drink I had all evening. I will be doing an interview with Louis in the next few days, so be sure to check back to the site for that!

After my deliciously simple champagne cocktail I used my drink ticket (which was a bargain at just $8) to try the punch bowl in the back courtyard.  The punch was refreshing and had a splash of prosseco on top. It was also a little sweeter (from the Disaronno) than all the other drinks of the night, which is always a plus for me and my sweet tooth!

Le Punch Drunk Love: Disaronno, Bourbon, Lemon, Cinnamon, Fig Tea, Bubbles

In conclusion, even if I hadn’t won a crown, I would have thoroughly enjoyed my evening at the Big Bar Prom and I know all the friends and colleagues that came with me had a great time too. We all got charactures done, (which were hilarious because they looked nothing like us) and had ‘prom style’ photos taken. I will be at Prom 2013 handing my crown over to the next King and Queen!

For those of you who came to the event and had Prom style photos taken, be sure to collect them HERE. Coming soon!

I’m giving Big Bar Valentines Prom (and this is a rating JUST for the event):

 

3.5 out of 5 Clover clubs for Drinks.

I liked the cocktails a lot and the variety was good, but they were all a little too sour for my palette and I preferred the champagne cocktail bar and punch to the cocktails I had. The service was super slow (although to be fair it WAS an event so it’s to be expected) but overall the drinks were balanced and well thought out selections, Dan Long always does a good job with that, and FG enjoyed everything he tried. I’m sure the regular bar on a ‘non-event’ night is excellent and I will be sure to comment on that in my next review.

 

4 out of 5 Platters for Food.

The food rating is one of the highest because the bar bites we got to try were all excellent, especially the sliders. I am excited to return to order food off the regular menu and also get my hands on some of those pastry, cakes and chocolates!

I will be returning again to see this location in the day time soon. If this event was anything to go by, the place is worthy of a second visit and I recommend you to give it a try!

Here are some photos that I borrowed from the Big Bar website…check out more on their facebook page.

Above photo Left to Right: Dan Long, Eugene Lee, Aidan Demarest

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