(This post originally appeared on CitySip.com)
Driving along La Cienega near Beverly Boulevard at night, your're likely to be distracted by the screaming neon “Nude Girls” sign. Don't stare too long, though. You might crash. Or, perhaps even more calamitously, miss the discrete entrance to one of Los Angeles’s best cocktail bars across the street. While the Roger Room isn’t known for scantly clad women dancing for dollars in G-strings, this one-room bar has a mood that’s hard to replicate and a cocktail menu that’s bound to bring you back for more.
I recently popped my Roger Room cherry, and boy, was it a blissful experience. The cocktails exceeded my expectations, put me at an intoxicating ease and had me leaving a bit wobbly, hoping the bartender would call me the next day for another round. I figured other first timers have fared similarly. What is it about the Roger Room that makes you want to come back? Or that it continually seeps its way into conversations about classic “must visit” cocktail bars? I’d heard great rumblings about said speakeasy nestled in the thick of Los Angeles, and felt it my duty to get a first hand answer myself.
Alongside “The Imbiber” Podcast hosts, Dan Dunn and Stretch Roberts, I was introduced to two great big city bartenders, Damian Windsor and Jason Bran, who both make cocktail creation something of an art. We sat in the back of the small dimly lit bar, perched on velvety seats beside small round cocktail tables, as Bran brought out the first round of drinks. The Old Sport has a light greenish hue from the cucumber juice, CapRock Gin, black tea infused peach liqueur, fresh lime and agave contents, topped with a cucumber slice held by the cutest plastic hanging monkey ever. The monkey came home with me.
I'll be the judge of that!
Had a great time on January 17th out at Villains Tavern in downtown LA, where I was honored to be a judge at a raucous cocktail competition sponsored by Becherovka and organized by our good friend Marcos Tello. Joining me at the judges table were the prodigiously talented mixologist Zahra Bates, who runs the bar at the Michelin-rated eatery Providence, and Shauna Der of the wildly popular foodie blog, TheMinty.com.
An all-star lineup of cocktail-crafters turned out for the event, and then churned out an amazing array of drinks made with Becherovka... which is some seriously tasty herbal bitters. Among those competing (just to name a few) were Eric Alpern, Chris Bostick and Devon Tarby of The Varnish, Vincenzo Marianella of Copa d'Oro, the Tasting Kitchen's Justin Pike, Dave Kupchinsky of Eveleigh and Dan Long of Big Bar.
Not gonna tell you who won the thing. You gotta listen to the podcast to find out. You can stream or download using the links below. Enjoy!
The reviews are in and for the second time in six months, "Dan Dunn's Booze, Blues & BBQ" was a bona fide hit at a Food and Wine magazine-sponsored festival. The latest BB&B event took place during happy hour (of course) on October 14th at LA Live, part of Food and Wine's 1st Annual Los Angeles fest. Happy to report that our seminar was completely sold out, just as it was when we did it back in April at Pebble Beach. Aspen, here we come?
Many thanks to the amazing crew at Baby Blues BBQ for serving up world-class eats for everyone in attendance. Kudos to owner/chefs Danny Fischer and Rick McCarthy for their invaluable insights on what it takes to make great barbecue, and for making sure nobody left the tent unstuffed.
And big ups also go out to Manny Hinojosa, master mixologist for Bacardi. Manny made everyone VERY happy that night with three great drinks specially designed to pair with the killer barbecue. Not to mention all the shots.... seriously, don't mention them. I'm still feeling woozy!
As emcee of the 2011 LA’s Best Bartender Competition, which took place on 10/9/11 at the Elevate Lounge in downtown Los Angeles, it was my job to try and keep the 250 or so attendees engaged throughout an event that ran nearly four hours long and consisted of five nervous bartenders stirring and shaking liquids, while a panel of stone-faced judges stared at them and intermittently passed notes to one another scribbled on napkins. Woohoo!!!
Emceeing was no easy task, particularly because I myself was having a hell of a hard time focusing on the competition knowing that on the street below right outside the building, director Christopher Nolan was shooting a major scene from the upcoming blockbuster film, The Dark Knight Rises.
For a comic book geek such as myself, the choice between Batman or barmen was a no-brainer. Alas, the sponsors who’d hired me to host the event – Table20.com and Karlsson’s Gold Vodka – didn’t quite see it that way. Neither did my Imbiber Show co-host Stretch Roberts, who was on hand to record another installment of our booze-soaked podcast.
“Hey, look who’s here – it’s Dale DeGroff!” I heard someone say when my old friend, and the world’s most famous bartender, arrived to judge the competition.
“Dale. Right. Great,” I mumbled, peering over the edge of the building at all the cool-looking “Gotham Police” cars crammed onto 6th Street several stories down. I suddenly had the strong urge – a cacoethes, if you will – to jump, just to see if Batman would come swooping in to save me. (He would. I was sure of it.)
Recently, a friend dragged me to a party at an art gallery in Silverlake, an area that in recent years has become the preferred stomping ground of the most insufferable hipster fucktards Los Angeles has to offer. (That’s right, all you skinny-jean wearing latte sippers in Los Feliz, you’re last year’s fucktards. Deal with it!)
My first instinct was to trap everyone inside and set the place ablaze. Future generations would have thanked me. But alas, I still cling to one or two vestiges of politesse, so I tried to mingle, drifting into a conversation with a diminutive Asian dude named Tae-Song and a chick who looked like Marcie from the Peanuts comic strip if she grew up, dyed her hair purple, and developed an eating disorder. I never got her name. I just called her Marcie. In my head, that is, not to her face. To her face, I called her “babe” and “sweetheart.” And I’m pretty sure she didn’t like that one bit.
Tae-Song said he worked in banking. Or maybe it was Bangkok. Fuck if I remember. What I do recall is that he wore a Jens Lekman t-shirt and spoke with a severe lisp, which made his incessant uttering of the meaningless phrase “it is what it is” even more hapless. The fourth time he did it I nearly snarfed scotch out my nose. I’ve done it before. Not all that fun.
From Rodeo Drive to The Studios at Paramount to Downtown L.A., The Taste is a four-day food and wine extravaganza, celebrating all things epicurean. This unprecedented event will showcase a star-studded cast of celebrity chefs at nine signature events over Labor Day weekend. Event tickets are all-inclusive and offer everything from unlimited tastings of delectable chef creations from 40 of L.A.’s best restaurants plus unlimited tastings from some of the top wineries, breweries and distilleries, to amazing demos by celebrity chefs, live musical entertainment, fascinating panel discussions and much more.
The talent lineup at this event is very impressive. Check out who's going to be there by clicking here.
As anyone who follows Deadline.com to keep abreast of important entertainment news no doubt already knows, the creators of the hit TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and I are developing a scripted comedy series for Fox based on my okay-selling memoir, Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-ending Happy Hour.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Wow, Hollywood really has run out of good ideas.” It’s okay. I thought the same thing when the deal went down. I mean, c’mon — I’m a professional boozer. For the past 15 years or so, I’ve ravaged my liver and my reputation (along with a good many relationships) in the service of a booze-soaked byline. And thanks to the mind-altering qualities of the stuff I’ve long specialized in covering, I can hardly remember any of it. My career should serve as a cautionary tale, not as the basis for a prime-time television program.
But it is what it is. If Rupert Murdoch’s minions at News Corp (Fox’s parent company) think it’s a good idea to turn my life into a show, who am I to argue? Hell, I’d bet my collectable copy of the final edition of The News of the World that it’s not the worst idea they’ve ever had over there.
That being said, I’m realistic about just how slim the chances are of Living Loaded the series ever winding up on the air. (Particularly in light of what I wrote in the previous paragraph.) But I’m not sweating it because, frankly, having to produce a TV show week in and week out sounds like a lot of work. And I, for one, happen to agree wholeheartedly with Oscar Wilde’s assessment of work being the curse of the drinking class.
Talk about an event that sizzles! On the heels of our sold-out stand at Pebble Beach Food and Wine, yours truly and the rowdy band of booze-loving BBQers from Baby Blues bring their sauce-soaked sideshow back to their home turf. It's grill-ified gastronomy meets master mixology, as delectable tastes from the Baby Blues menu are paired with incredible cocktails created by a bartender extraordinaire (TBD).
One of the adult beverage industry's most colorful personalities, former Playboy columnist Dan Dunn (that's me!) recently appeared on Conan and The Adam Carolla Show to promote his latest book, Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-ending Happy Hour. Time magazine columnist Joel Stein had this to say about the book: "After all the self-pitying, unfunny books about alcoholism, it's so much fun to read a book that's honest about how fun drinking is. I'm so glad Dan Dunn wrote this now before he dies of liver poisoning." Living Loaded is being developed into a scripted series at Fox by me and the creators of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
Rick McCarthy and Danny Fischer launched Baby Blues BBQ back in October 2004 in Venice, CA, with a goal of providing delicious down-home barbecue to people who were looking for it. Riding a wave of great reviews and even better word of mouth, Baby Blues has since expanded with locations in Hollywood, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
10/14/11, 4:30p - 5:45p
Downtown: L.A. LIVE
This event is sure to sell out soon!!!
Stretch and I dropped by the posh Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills for the grand opening of 10 Pound, the very first dedicated The Macallan Single Malt Scotch Whisky bar in the U.S. We talked single-malt Scotch with Paul Ross of The Macallan, and enjoyed a few drinks with the one and only Jimmy Yeager of Jimmy's in Aspen, creator of the event's signature cocktail, The Jimmy Mac. Have pen and paper ready, cuz Jimmy divulges the recipe in the podcast!
Ran into my pal Joel Stein of Time magazine at the event. Didn't get him for the show, though. He's shy. Seems our friend Alison Brie of "Mad Men" and "Community" (pictured), with whom I was on a panel with recently, was there as well, but didn't run into her. That's a bummer, because she's kinda dope. Did spy a dude named Jesse who's on "House" though. He was surrounded by adoring female fans, so we left him alone.
I'm still giddy at the memory of all the delicious Macallan we had that night (and still a bit hungover, too!)
Funny show, this one. Give a listen. Links below.
And please pass along the link to your friends, so that we might make some new ones ourselves.
From Adam Tschorn of the LA Times...
The Dewar's Scotch whiskey brand has been putting a lot of marketing effort into the men's style arena lately -- in addition to hosting a dinner at the new Band of Outsiders digs in Hollywood, the spirit label made a spirited showing at New York Fashion Week where it had a presence at Band's first full-fledged runway show and the Carlos Campos menswear presentation.
And, on Wednesday night, Dewar's hosted what it called "an evening of casual debate and witty banter" that focused on the topic of "defining the modern man." It turned out to be part free-flowing debate, part question-and-answer, part live liquor ad -- and thoroughly entertaining.
The set up consisted of actor Joel McHale moderating a panel that included actress Alison Brie (McHale's "Community" co-star who also appears on "Mad Men"), actor Jesse Williams ("Grey's Anatomy"), K.P. Anderson (executive producer and head writer of E! Entertainment's "The Soup") and writer/professional drinker Dan "The Imbiber" Dunn.