Within a 48-hour period last March, Angelenos had the chance to sip the handcrafted cocktails of nine of the most talented bartenders in the U.S. and England. Thanks to The Edison (edisondowntown.com) and First & Hope’s (firstandhope.com) group guest bartender events—called Radio Room and Red Rover, Red Rover, respectively— Los Angeles is home to two of the finest drinking nights in the country. Every month.
The venues attract marquee talent, thanks in part to liquor sponsors, who cover bartenders’ hotels and airfare, and “ treat them like rock stars,” says Marcos Tello of Tello/ Demarest, the consulting firm that launched both events. Proving the bartenders’ star status, cocktailians line up like Bourbon-besotted groupies to sample signature sips from the likes of Erick Castro (of Rickhouse in San Francisco) and Brian Miller (formerly of Death & Company in New York).
Customers might revel in the novelty of trying new cocktails, but it’s possible the visiting bartenders are the ones having the best time. Castro sees the events as a way for bartenders to share information about syrups, infusions and techniques. “ It’s a great way to spread knowledge really quickly. There hasn’t been one time we haven’t learned from each other.” Miller agrees. “ It’s not about who is better, it’s about getting better.”