Is there a bartender you haven’t worked with that you’d really like to work with?
Yeah, Sam Ross. His cocktails are some of my favorites. The Left Hand and the Penicillin are two of my favorite cocktails, and he created both of those. I would love to work with him. And I still have a yearning to be back in New York. I feel like I’ll end up there one day, and hopefully I’ll get to work with him.
In L.A., I’d really like to work with Dave Kaplan and Alex Day. I think their cocktail programs are very parallel with mine, and I can just relate to them. I think Death & Co. is the most stellar cocktail list I’ve ever seen. It would be really nice to work with them.
When you say it’s in line with your idea of cocktails, what would you say some of the hallmarks of your style are?
I just like things to be clean and not too complicated, but bringing in interesting flavors, making it complex, but not overly complicated. I feel that’s a really hard thing to do, and they carry it off well.
Where and what do you like to drink when you’re not working?
If I’ve worked that night, I’ve generally been tasting cocktails all night and I kind of just want to go and get a shot of rye or a shot of Fernet, and I’ll just chill out and not have too many crazy flavors going on in my mouth. That’s usually what I’ll do. I’ll usually hit up Wood & Vine or Harvard & Stone. If I want to get a good cocktail, definitely The Varnish. I just wish it was closer to my house. Downtown is kind of a trek.
What’s a cocktail that you recommend people make at home?
What I do, which I think is easiest, is very simple to do at home. I always have a bottle of Campari and a bottle of sweet vermouth in my cabinet, and then I’ll usually have a bottle of tequila, a bottle of gin and a bottle of bourbon. I can make Pancho Villa, Boulevardier or Negroni, depending on what mood I’m in. I always have the Campari and sweet vermouth as my two go-tos. So that’s simple, easy, five bottles in my cabinet.
What are your preferences on your Boulevardier, in terms of proportion and brand?
I always used to make it 1:1:1, but since working here, Dave uses 1 ½ bourbon, 1 Campari and 1 Carpano. Actually, Rittenhouse is really good, Rittenhouse rye. That way, you get the spirit shining through. The base spirit shines through instead of getting covered up with the Campari and Carpano.
If you could only have one more cocktail, what would be in the glass?
I’m kind of on this Little Italy kick right now. I think I could go out with a Little Italy.
Who would you let make it for you?
Definitely Dave Kupchinsky.