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, The Sav’s Fave is Matthew Schaefer of Things That Fly Collective.
Matt’s bartending career had an interesting start, to say the least. His first job slinging cocktails was at an off-track betting bar in Chicago. There were no cocktails to be made; mostly just derelict scotches were served. He had his first experience with muddling fresh ingredients at a place called Zed 451, also in Chicago. But it wasn’t until he arrived in Los Angeles and began to tend bar at Big Bar at the Alcove in Los Feliz that he truly learned about spirits, mixing and flavor profiles. Schaefer has gone on to work and manage multiple bars throughout Los Angeles, but is now focusing on his passion project: Things That Fly Collective.
Matthew Schaefer’s Things That Fly Collective is a company with two main focuses: spirits and events. The spirits part of the company involves consulting, brand development and even his own high-end bottled cocktail line aimed toward luxury markets. He is also spearheading multiple events including a monthly, members only, pop up speakeasy.
We asked Matthew what his mantra behind the bar is and he said, “Consistency, quality and accessibility. I like to make sure people know what they are drinking. It’s all about education. Not cramming down their throats and insulting them, but instead opening their eyes to the world that is out there.” This is the reason why Schaefer only carries small batch liquors at his events.
Where does Matthew see the cocktail movement heading? Well (without paying him to say this), he thinks that it has a lot to do with The Savory. Schaefer states, “Because of the education provided behind most cocktail bars, consumers want to recreate that feeling at home. People’s palates are changing for the better and their expectations are high.” He goes on, “There will always be your high-volume bars, but craft cocktail bars are leading to an actual home bar scene.”
What Does Your Bartender Drink?:
With fall on its way, Matt prefers a dark spirit and his current drink of choice is the Affinity. The Affinity is essentially a “perfect” Rob Roy.
2 oz Bank Note Blended Scotch
½ oz Sweet Vermouth
½ oz Dry Vermouth
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain with a julep strainer into a chilled cocktail glass.