Los Angeles Bar Mavens Have Simple Solutions for the Non-(Alcohol)-Drinking Bar Patron
by Zachary Bernstein
What’s your drink of preference after a long day at the office? Do you go out for a beer? A glass of wine? What would you say to a Citrus Spritzer mocktail? While they don’t make up the majority of bar customers, non-alcoholic drinkers regularly show up at bars asking for a little something beyond a Shirley Temple they can gulp down for themselves. Bartenders would be wise not to discount those who don’t drink alcohol; the teetotalers who nonetheless insist on an active social life, those adjusting to recent news of their gluten-intolerance, the good Samaritans who volunteer to be the designated driver. But what do these anomalous creatures of sobriety crave?
“At the end of the day, people want a damn good-tasting drink," says Justin Fix, Bar Manager of The Blind Barber, Culver City, CA’s premiere combination cocktail bar and barbershop. Whether it’s honest booze or a non-alcoholic mix, he pays special attention to make sure fresh and seasonal ingredients are king at his establishment. And he’s not alone.
Nicolas De Gols, the new General Manager of The BLVD restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel offers a similar philosophy. “You need to understand what they expect,” says De Gols, and he just happens to work in an establishment where the clientele expect the very best. For a non-alcoholic mojito, for example, De Gols is partial to replacing the rum with Fever-Tree Ginger Ale, a brand that markets itself as the choice brand to mix with other drinks.
Over at the Mohawk Bend in L.A. edgily hip Echo Park, Bar Manager Lauren Reyes takes a stance in favor of self-sustainability, forgoing brand mixes for in-house creations where all cocktails on the menu can be turned into mocktails. “There’s still room to be creative,” she says, offering drinks like house-made ginger beer and serving kombucha on tap.