Off Duty Drinking: Los Angeles Chefs

Chef Los Angeles

Buy this man Jameson on the rocks if you see him away from Rustic Canyon.

I recently asked five of L.A.’s top chefs one simple question: “Where and what do you like to drink when you’re not at work?” Read their responses.

Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill)

What do I like to drink when I’m not working? It’s the same thing I like to drink when I am working. One of my favorite things, I like really light, crisp Sancerre wine. I like European wines because they’re lower in alcohol and I can drink more of them without feeling crappy. I don’t drink a lot of hard alcohol, but I do like tequila. I like a really good silver tequila. I don’t like reposado as much, or añejo. I like to drink it on ice. I love it with a squeeze of tangerine or kumquat, any kind of unusual citrus. In addition to, usually, some lime…a lot lime juice, but a little squeeze of an orange citrus too, that’s in season and gorgeous. Other than that, I love a Negroni. If I’m going to seriously drink, I’ll have a Negroni to start. It’s not that often. Probably three times a year, maybe, because they’re lethal, in my estimation. In summertime I also love Campari and soda. I’m a pretty equal opportunity drinker. And I like non alcoholic things too. If I drink beer, it’s always an IPA, really, really hoppy and really bitter.

I usually decide what I’m going to drink based on what I’m eating. If I’m eating casual burgers or pizza or something really spicy, I’ll want beer. And if I’m going to have oysters or seafood, I’ll want that crisp white wine. If I’m going to eat at a Japanese restaurant, and I do that a lot, I’m going to have really dry sake. I’ll drink a Sapporo. It’s the only time I won’t drink an IPA because I don’t want it to be too heavy with my Japanese food. It’s all kind of predicated around the food.

Matt Molina (Mozza)

I like to drink, first and foremost, so if I’m going to drink or make an effort to do so, I’m definitely going to go downtown in a cab and drink at The Varnish. I think The Varnish is fantastic. They’ve definitely done their homework when it comes to the study of cocktail making and spirits. The Manhattan there is just amazing with rye. It’s a great all around drink. I’m a big fan of a sours too. I love having a bit of acidity. That breaks up everything.

Brendan Collins (Waterloo & City)

I like to drink it when I’m at Waterloo & City too. We have a beer that we have in bottles right now, and they’re just about to put it into barrels for us as well. It’s called Fin du Monde. It’s from Unibroue brewery in Canada. It’s absolutely delicious, one of the best beers on the market right now, better than some of the stuff that’s coming out of Belgium. That’s what I drink a lot of.

I’m a traditional Englishman, so I do like to drink beer. If I’m having dinner, there’s a really great wine that I’ve been drinking a lot of right now. It’s Prisoner. That’s pretty much it. I’m kind of two-horse man, Fin du Monde and Prisoner.

Steve Samson (Sotto)

I love the whole mixology revolution. I love Julian [Cox]’s work. I think he’s amazing. And Eric Alperin. La Descarga, that’s a fun place. But mostly it’s at home, having a glass of wine with dinner. It’s not like New York, where you go down to the subway and go to as many bars as you want.

Evan Funke (Rustic Canyon)

I actually like to drink at Pacific Dining Car on Wilshire. It’s quiet. The bartender is hilarious, and I like to drink Jameson on the rocks.

This is the third in a series of “Off Duty Drinking” posts with bartenders and chefs.


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

Loved this piece. Chefs can always point you to the best spot to park and enjoy a few. I’m a New Yorker and lament the lack ‘o subway too, but at least now I know somewhere worth the $$ cab ride.

This is a great feature. Looking forward to seeing more installments. Sadly Samson is right, that “It’s not like New York, where you go down to the subway and go to as many bars as you want.”

Thanks, TreasureLA. Any other segment of the food and drink population you’d like to hear from?

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