You watch in awe as they carefully craft your cocktail with the precision and speed of a fighter pilot. Dressed to the nines, they barely break a sweat as they muddle, shake and strain to perfection. They are encyclopedias of cocktailia, as they can name every drink from an Aviation to a Zombie Punch. They are bartenders and they are the blood, sweat and tears of the cocktail revolution. So the question we all have is, when they put down the shaker and unstrap the suspenders, what do these superheroes behind the stick actually drink?
The Savory took to the best craft cocktail bars in Los Angeles to talk to some of our favorite, most talented bar chefs to find out just what it is that they order at the bar. Each week we will feature one of the nation’s top bartenders and their drink of choice.
This week’s Sav’s Fave is Aidan Demarest. If you talk to anyone who is "in the know" in the LA cocktail scene, they will tell you that the cocktail movement was begun, in part, by Aidan; though he’ll deny it up and down. A Massachusetts native, Demarest starting bartending when he was underage in the North End section of Boston. When he was 24-years-old he began bartending in the Los Angeles club scene. At that point, “cocktails were not even a blip on the screen,” says Aidan. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that Mojitos started making their way onto the scene and into in high-end LA bars.
When asked how he started his love and knowledge of cocktails, Demarest says, “It started with a huge agenda with spirits.” While on a recon trip to San Francisco to visit a whiskey distillery, he saw that cocktails were everywhere in the city. “I was opening Seven Grand in downtown LA as a GM, and after that trip I came back determined to bring cocktails to Los Angeles.” He had no idea that it would be as successful as it was.
Aidan quickly discovered that as much as he loved being behind the bar and setting up a bar for success, he didn’t love staying in one place. So he and his partner, Marcos Tello, started Liquid Assets, a cocktail consulting firm. He loves the idea that consultants are hired for their opinions, so you don’t have to battle with bar owners to get your creativity across. “LA’s success in the cocktail world is based on the fact that consultants are bringing in great programs,” says Demarest. “There is also such a sense of community in the bar scene here. The cast of characters behind the bars in Los Angeles is like a Vaudeville show...and we love it.”
Aidan’s mantra? “Without risk, there is no room for success. I love risky projects. Leap and a net shall appear.” He says that if he understood and could apply that when he first came to LA all those years ago to become an actor, maybe he would have been a movie star instead.
We asked Aidan his thoughts on the future of cocktail and he said, “The consumer is heading towards craving knowledge of spirits. This trend will only continue. A more educated drinker means even better cocktails.”
What Does Your Bartender Drink?:
Aidan has noted the transition into the fall season when choosing his cocktail of choice. With the colder weather quickly approaching, he battles the chill with an Anejo Old Fashioned.
Aidan Demarest’s Anejo Old Fashioned
2 oz 2007 Ultra Anejo Tequila
½ tsp Simple Syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
Orange Peel Garnish
Build in a rocks glass and enjoy.