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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!