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 Eric Tecosky from Jones Hollywood in Los Angeles, who recently launched the Dirty Sue premium olive juice company.
Josh Lurie: Do you consider yourself a bartender or a mixologist? What’s the difference?
Eric Tecosky: Bartender. I dig the fact that bartenders are starting to get noticed for what they do (assuming they actually know what they are doing), but mixologist is a term that is better used by others as description. If someone asks me what I do, I say “bartend.” If someone asks my boss what I do, he says, “Oh, that’s our mixologist.”
JL: How did you become interested in mixology?
ET: Books and movies. If you ever watch a Bogart movie or read Raymond Chandler novels, the bartender is always the guy who knows what’s going on. He’s on the inside. And the bar is where everything goes down. Deal are made, love is lost and found, friends solve the world’s problems, etc… The romantic side of the business first sparked my interest. The crafting of cocktails and the origins of the classics came later.
JL: What’s your first cocktail memory?
ET: When I was barbacking in Hollywood in the early nineties (Yes. That’s why Marcos and Alperin call me Grandpa), I finally got the chance to pour. A couple of chicks ordered some drink I’d never heard of so I asked one of the guys what was in it. He imparted some fantastic words of wisdom. “If a girl in her early twenties orders a drink that you don’t know, make it red and I guarantee they’ll be happy.” That advice has never failed me.
JL: What’s your current favorite spirit or liquor?
ET: I am always happy with a Jack on the rocks and an ice cold can of Budweiser. But in the past year or so, gin and rum have been making many appearances at the home bar.
JL: Which cocktail is past its prime?
ET: There are too many to list. I would welcome the day when no one orders a Long Island Iced Tea or his cousins (Long Beach, Electric etc) or any kind of “bomb” or a Scooby Snack (I’m upset with myself for even writing the last one). The problem is, there is time and place for everything. If you go to college you will drink dumb cocktails. If you go to Bourbon Street you will drink a Hurricane, which by the way, on a hungover happy hour, they really do the trick. At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the bartender to grow people out of what they know and into new, interesting and great tasting cocktails.
JL: What’s the cocktail of the future?