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 Chris Bostick, bartender at Beverly Hills Hotel.
Do you consider yourself a bartender or a mixologist? What’s the difference?
Without question, Bartender. Having been in this industry for well over a decade, I’ve learned first and foremost what it means to tend bar. I feel that bartending encompasses every aspect of the guest’s overall experience. True hospitality is where it’s at for me. Mixology on the other hand, is but one very important aspect of bartending if you wish to be regarded as a consummate professional. That being said, mixology to me is the method, education, technique and panache used to create memorable cocktails. Famed bartender and cocktail historian Gary Regan calls us Cocktailians. I like that. Sounds a bit like aliens.
How did you become interested in bartending?
I was a food expeditor at a high volume restaurant right out of high school. The GM noticed that I was fast, organized, precise, and could handle an enormous amount of pressure. Next thing I know he has me training behind the bar where I could really put those skills to work. Back then you could bartend before you could drink. Crazy concept. Over time, especially after a 3 year stint in NYC, I started to realize that working behind the stick was not just a means to an end, but a true passion.
What’s your first cocktail memory?
I remember mixing orange juice and sugar with some of my moms jug Gallo wine when I was a kid. It was more experiment than anything. I think this was around 6th or 7th grade. The folks were out of town and there was minimal supervision. Little did I know that I was mixing up some absolute ghetto sangria. I’ve never been sicker.
What’s your current favorite spirit or liquor?
I really love gin cocktails. Hendricks and Martin Miller’s Westbourne strength are delicious. I was drinking gin back when my friends called me an old man for doing so. Gin, in my humble opinion, is the original flavored vodka and has so much more soul. It’s so versatile. Also, being from Texas, tequila and bourbon will always have a special place in my heart.
Which cocktail is past its prime?
Any drink that is called a martini and is not actually a martini. I’m referring to the overly sweetened, artificially flavored, pre-made mix incorporating swill that passes for a cocktail in this town.
What’s the cocktail of the future?
Modern classics. Knowing the classic cocktails and the proper methodology is akin to a jazz musician learning the standards. Once you are comfortable with the structure and construct of a proper cocktail then you can improvise and riff on a theme endlessly.
Describe one of your original cocktails. What’s it called and what was your approach?
La Guera (White Lady or Blondie)
This was a cocktail I did for Grand Marnier. My idea behind this was to take the classic White Lady (gin, cointreau, lemon juice) and update it with a culinary approach. I used Hendricks Gin, Grand Marnier in place of the Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, and muddled cucumber. I muddle the cucumber and agave nectar together, then add the remainder of ingredients, a scoop of ice and shake. I then fine strain it into a chilled coupe rinsed with St. Germaine elderflower liqueur. Since she’s a pretty lady I decided to garnish with beautiful edible blue Borage flowers for their cucumber herbaceous character.
Do you have a cocktail mentor, and what did they teach you?
There are bits of advice that I was taught by the first guy who trained me that I still use to this day. Also, David Embury’s “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” has been an invaluable resource for learning how to do things the right way. I also have to mention Dale DeGroff for showing that bartending can be a profession and Gary Regan for his knowledge and humor.
Outside of your bar, what’s your favorite bar in town and why?
When it comes to drinking I’m pretty simple. The Daily Pint out in Santa Monica has got the coldest bottles of Samuel Smiths and as much Lagavulin as I can put back all at a pretty good price. If I feel like switching it up, their selection of beer and scotch is amazing. I have always loved the dive bar and LA has a whole slew of them. When I need a proper cocktail I’ll go see the pros at The Varnish.
Who’s another mixologist you respect and why?
Having just seen him speak I have to say Steven Olson. Steven has forgotten more about tasting spirits and wine than you and I would ever hope to know. He’s an encyclopedia of all beverage knowledge without being pretentious or a snob. His dedication to serving people and making them happy is at the very root of what we do. His passion is contagious and inspiring. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for my fellow Los Angeles bartenders. Guys like Matty Eggleston and Damian Windsor both have that unending spirit and creativity. There’s a renaissance happening here and I feel honored to be a part of it.
If you had a bar of your own, what would you call it?
What’s the best simple cocktail for people to make at home, and what’s the recipe?
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and offer up a Blood & Sand. I feel this is a very simple way to introduce someone to both a classic as well as a cocktail containing scotch. When made properly it has the ability to convert even the most hardened vodka drinkers. I like to use Macallan 12 here, because it’s sherry wood aging helps the scotch play well with the other ingredients.
1oz. Macallan 12yr scotch
1oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4oz. Cherry Heering (cherry brandy)
3/4oz. sweet vermouth
Shake all ingredients well with cracked ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with house-made brandied cherry and enjoy!
September 2, 2009 at 6:55 PM
Wow I found you!!! Hope I can see you in November when you come to Texas
Q&A with bartender Chris Bostick (Beverly Hills Hotel) < It’s all about the trends
May 4, 2009 at 10:50 AM
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April 14, 2009 at 3:18 PM
Chris seems passionate and knowledgeable about cocktails. I’d like to get some of his libations at the Beverly Hills Hotel some time…if I can manage to drive out there. Used to do it every day..why couldn’t I know about this when I worked in BH?