Interview: dolphin trainer-bartender Damian Gray Windsor

Bartender Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Damian Windsor

Cocktail culture is thriving in large part due to a passionate contingent of exceptional bartenders and mixologists. This feature places a spotlight on the craftspeople behind the bar, and not just the structure itself. Meet Damian Gray Windsor, 33, Aquarius, Partida Tequila Ambassador and a bartender Monday nights in the back room at Bar Lubitsch.

JL: Do you consider yourself a bartender or a mixologist? What’s the difference?

DGW: Bartender. Mixology is only part of the job specific to cocktails, there’s ingredient selection, pouring and measuring. Just a fancy word for a small part of the job that sounds better than bottle selector or proportionator.

JL: How did you become interested in mixology?

DGW: I’m not sure i was interested in mixology! I wanted to make cash money and pick up chicks!

JL: What’s your first cocktail memory?

DGW: Mixing frozen banana daiquiris at the promenade cafe at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra, Australia.

JL: What’s your current favorite spirit or liquor?

DGW: Partida tequila… but i’m really fond of ‘the scarlet ibis’ 100-proof rum from Trinidad.

JL: Which cocktail is past its prime?

DGW: That thing they make in Hollywood when they don’t know the recipe that’s part Manhattan, part Old Fashioned, all wrong!

JL: What’s the cocktail of the future?

DGW: Anything with rum. it’s still relatively cheap, flavorful and versatile.

JL: Describe one of your original cocktails. What’s it called and what was your approach?

DGW: grosso sbagliato – big mistake

It’s a Hennessy cognac Negroni with crushed strawberries and a pastis rinse. I was thirsty and these were the ingredients on the table, little would I know, it won me a trip to Cognac! Hooray.

JL: Do you have a cocktail mentor, and what did they teach you?

DGW: I didn’t have a mentor as such but I’ve taken a little bit from everyone i’ve worked with.

JL: Outside of your bar, what’s your favorite bar in town and why?

DGW: Due to the highly sensitive nature of my work it’s usually the bar that i’m sitting at, or the bar that can make a passable margarita.

JL: Who’s another mixologist you respect and why?

DGW: Apart from the guys and girls in LA bringing it up, Jeffery Morgenthaler in Portland and Jacques Bezuidenhout in SF. They’re both focused on beverage and experience, with experience and wisdom beyond their years.

JL: If you had a bar of your own, what would you call it?

DGW: For Medicinal Purposes

JL: What’s the best simple cocktail for people to make at home, and what’s the recipe?

DGW: The Tommy’s Margarita

1 1/2 – 2 oz partida reposado tequila (to taste)
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz agave nectar
3/4 oz water

Add all ingredients to a shaker, and shake with ice, strain onto fresh ice and drink. Repeat as necessary.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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