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 bartender John Coltharp from Seven Grand in Los Angeles.
Josh Lurie: Do you consider yourself a bartender or a mixologist? What’s the difference?
John Coltharp: A mixologist-bartender. I prefer the two together. There is enough respect with just bartender, but I create drinks and research their history.
JL: How did you become interested in mixology?
JC: By drinking good drinks.
JL: What’s your first cocktail memory?
JC: Vodka and orange juice. Now I prefer Gin.
JL: What’s your current favorite spirit or liquor?
JC: Rye whiskey
JL: Which cocktail is past its prime?
JC: The ‘Apple-tini’
JL: What’s the cocktail of the future?
JC: The one in front of you.
JL: Describe one of your original cocktails. What’s it called and what was your approach?
JC: The Seven Sins- Rye, Applejack, lemon juice, house made grenadine, cinnamon on top. Fall flavor with a complex finish.
JL: Do you have a cocktail mentor, and what did they teach you?
JC: Sammy Ross. He started my education.
JL: Outside of your bar, what’s your favorite bar in town and why?
JC: The Association. Great style.
JL: Who’s another mixologist you respect and why?
JC: Marcos Tello and Eric Alperin. They know their stuff, and they’re humble about it.
JL: If you had a bar of your own, what would you call it?
JL: What’s the best simple cocktail for people to make at home, and what’s the recipe?
JC: The Bee’s Knees
2 oz Gin
3/4 honey (that is brought down to 75% strength)
Shake, strain, cocktail glass, no garnish.