2011 Most Inspired Bartender Winner (Interview)
2011's Most Inspired Bartender Spills the Best Bars and Local Cocktail Trends
GQ and Bombay Sapphire have long been teaming up and crowning the most inspired bartender in the country. This year's competition went down at Drai's and local bartender Mia Sarazen of Harvard & Stone (5221 Hollywood Blvd., 323-466-6063) and Black Market (11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-446-2533) beat out 29 other local talents. "The format was a la minute rather than contestants coming prepared with recipes in hand," Mia shared. "I for one thrive on this sort of challenge. Maybe it's from all my nights working at Harvard & Stone, making up drinks as I go? Either way I must have done something right, because I came out on top!" So what's Mia's story, and where does she go when she wants an amazing cocktail? Get the scoop below.
PopSugar LA: When did you move to LA and what brought you out here?
Mia Sarazen: I moved to LA in the Spring of 2010 when I came to open SoHo House in West Hollywood. I had worked for the New York SoHo House, and they asked me to come help train the staff for six weeks. I didn't think I was moving to LA, but three weeks into the training I was in love with this city.
PSLA: What are your favorite drinks at Black Market and Harvard & Stone?
MS: Some of my favorite drinks that I am making at Black Market right now are The Colombian, which is aguardiente (the national spirit of Colombia), lime juice, and sugar. It's really light, funky, and refreshing. The Smokin' Monk is also a great cocktail. Getting people to enjoy mezcal is so fun for me! We used Del Maguey Vida mezcal, lemon juice, orange juice, sugar, and yellow chartreuse, which offsets the mezcal nicely. This drink is very savory yet bright.
To hear more from Mia, .
At Harvard our best-selling cocktail is a marriage between mine and Pablo's creation, which I like to call Baby's First Bourbon. It is well balanced with orgeat, lemon, bourbon, bitters, and an orange twist. We are doing a really fun play on an apple martini, where we use moonshine, Has apple syrup, lemon, and bitters. It is a comfort drink in my opinion — a little sweet, a little bite, and a light cinnamon spice.
PSLA: What upcoming cocktail trends can we expect in LA?
MS: I definitely see more beer cocktails, locally sourced, product-inspired cocktails are running rampid, and I don't foresee that stopping. Also barrel-aging cocktails and health conscious cocktails — we do live in LA!
PSLA: What are the top bars in LA ,and what’s your favorite drink there?
MS: The Varnish (118 E. 6th St., 213-622-9999): I say go with the bartender's choice; they are some of the best barkeeps in the city. Trust, because they will blow your mind. La Descarga (1159 N. Western Ave., 323-466-0181): it's like being teleported to Old Havana! Be ballsy and ask for an aged rum of the bartender's choice or order Tapping the Admiral.
The Eveleigh (8752 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 424-239-1630): It's a very welcoming and comfortable space. Dave Kupchinsky and his team have come up with some amazing cocktails. The banana daiquiri blew my mind. The Spare Room (7000 Hollywood Blvd., 323-769-7296): you can't have a bad time there. You have Aiden working the floor, which means instant fun, Naomi behind the stick making killer cocktails, great DJs, and bowling. I highly recommend getting a punch bowl.