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Know Your Bartender: SoCal Cantina's Leo Holtzman

Virginia Gil
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Virginia Gil

Leo Holtzman is the wizard behind SoCal Cantina—literally. The 28-year-old mixologist and bar owner is also a trained magician. He recently opened a second location of his Brickell bar inside South Beach's Rock Hostel (1351 Collins Ave), where on most days you'll find him serving up all sorts of tequila-based drinks ("it's the best spirit") and entertaining customers with his whimsical talents. We caught up with Holtzman for the spring issue of Time Out Miami and here's what he had to say about life as a bartender and the elusive hangover cure.   

How’d you get into bartending?

I was in college, working as a magician part-time, and I wanted extra money. Bartenders are kings when you’re in college, and I wanted to be part of that. I memorized all the [bar’s] cocktails and said I had bartended before, but I lied. I learned as I went and was managing the bar by the third week.

Did you consider pursuing magic full-time?

I never enjoyed the stage. I enjoyed that one-on-one interaction. SoCal Cantina is the perfect place; it only holds 30 people, so whenever I do magic, it’s like I’m performing for the whole bar. It feels like Cheers.

Do you have a favorite local bar?

I hop around; there are so many great places. I will say that I recently went to Glass & Vine and had the most refreshing drinks I’d had in a while. All of their cocktails were light and citrusy, which is the style of cocktail I like.

What’s your hangover cure?

It’s foolproof but difficult to do: Before bed, drink one glass of water, eat a banana, drink eight ounces of milk and then two more glasses of water. It’s hard to stomach, but the water hydrates you, the banana gives you potassium and the milk is a lactose protein. All humans are lactose intolerant to an extent, so it takes your body longer to process [the milk]. Every time I’ve done that, I’ve never had a hangover.

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