What's your drink of choice? The Negroni. Partially because I like to eat and it’s a great aperitif. My recipe is one ounce of Campari, three-quarter ounces of Carpano Antico, an ounce and quarter of a strong London Dry—I’m big on Tanquerey. Give that a little stir, strain over a rock and toss in an orange peel.
What's your favorite bar tool? A bar spoon. A good bar spoon is actually this cheap bar spoon that comes from Barproducts.com. It has a disc at the bottom, kind of twirled and has a flapped surface. It’s not great for measuring but you can crack ice with it, stir with it, layer with it, mussle soft things with it. It’s $2.10, but it’s my go-to.
What's the most underrated ingredient or cocktail? A Manhattan. I’m all about going back to the basics. There are so many different vermouths and whiskeys out there nowadays. I’ve tried all different types of ryes and vermouths—matching a certain rye with a certain vermouth and a certain proportion of bitters—but Angostura bitters is my one constant. I think there is a lot of minutiae that can be explored.
What trend would you like to see go away? I’m all for "prep heavy, work light." But I’m not a big fan of cocktails that you don’t have to prepare—cocktails that don’t have to be shaken or stirred or built. There’s a famous quote: Someone asked “Can you keep a cocktail in the fridge?” and the reply was, “You can keep a cocktail in the fridge just as much as you can keep a kiss in the fridge.” The secret ingredient to every cocktail is love and you put in love when you build a cocktail, when you stir it, when you mess over it. I think that we’re getting to the point where we’re streamlining so much that we’re taking that love out of that.
What's the drink to order when you're behind the bar? I like learning new things, so I like obscure classics. It would be awesome if you ordered a drink from me and I didn’t know it to have the recipe. I’m not to the point where I think I’m above learning with my patrons. But please be kind and patient with me when it’s busy. If I have my tools, big rocks and egg whites, I’d go with a fizz. Any fizz will do like a gin or rye fizz, or if they have the patience, a Ramos Gin Fizz.
What's the best pick-up line you've ever heard? I’ve heard a lot of cheesy pick-up lines, especially because it’s LA. So, the most genuine one is “Hi. My name is…”
What's on your playlist? Something old time-y and jazz-y or old school hip-hop.
What are your favorite bars? I’m a big fan of the Corner Door and Eveleigh. I’m a huge fan of all the Julian Cox bars, especially if he’s actually behind it, and the Spare Room. The big key is the hospitality game, so I’m big on bars that have a lot of hospitality. I love 1886 because it feels like a living room and like I’m being hosted.
What your favorite late night spots? I live in Pasadena, so Wokcano. [laughs] It’s the only thing that’s open at 4am.
Where was your first kiss? My first kiss was behind the back stop. It was the last day of sixth street grade at Grazide elementary school in Hacienda Heights.