Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Cocktail Revival. A Photographic Essay on the Talented Bartenders of Los Angeles.

Cocktail Revival Joseph Brooke

About a year and a half ago, J and I fell in love with the cocktail scene in Los Angeles and Portland. We loved it so much we built our own bar. We removed dozens of books from the shelves and made room for spirits. How many bottles? At least 50, plus your smaller bottles of aromatic bitters. To most people out there, it's hard to get past the visual of a blue, artificial-sugar liquid topped with a pineapple and cherry. To some people, cocktails are typically for women and not "manly" as say a glass of fine Scotch. I guarantee you that if you paid a visit to any one of Los Angeles cocktail bars such as The Varnish, La Descarga or Rivera, your perception of a cocktail will dissipate the second you take a sip. Bartenders right now, for the last few years, have started up a revival and it is a very fashionable and exciting time in the restaurant industry.

One night as we were at one of the bars, I watched a bartender meticulously construct a drink like a chef working on plating. He never stopped once to think about the recipe but followed through gracefully with exact measurements, numbered stirs and a final taste. It was essentially art in a glass. I decided that I wanted to capture a few of the bartenders during this revival that have really re-introduced the enjoyment and sophistication of drinking a cocktail.

This is the fruit of a laborious 6 months. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Cocktail Revival Steve Livigni

Steve Livigni

Cocktail Revival Eric Alperin

Eric Alperin

Cocktail Revival Francois Vera

Francois Vera

Cocktail Revival Joseph Brooke

Joseph Brooke

Cocktail Revival Julian Cox

Julian Cox

Cocktail Revival Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace

Cocktail Revival Raul Yrastorza

Raul Yrastorza



I always thought bartenders should be put in their rightful place, next to school teachers and Doctors Without Borders.

jenn said...

these are great. really beautifully done.

Tryabreathmint said...

i really like the concept and the photography is beautifully done. however i feel that the site needs more emphasis on the cocktails since it is about cocktails. right now i am not motivated to click on each name because they are anonymous names to me.

just an idea to throw out: maybe an easier visual navigation of the different drinks/bartenders. have a small visual icon of the cocktail above each name and when you click on it, it brings you to the popup-page with a larger image of the cocktail and the bartender photo. then you can click through to view the other images including the info button with the recipe.

once again, love the photography, love the concept! i look forward to seeing this project expand.

weezermonkey said...

Extraordinary work.

One Food Guy said...

Hey D - stunning photography. I love the concept and the dress of each bartender. I have one question though, where are the women? Some of the best bartenders in Boston are women. Some of them even have their own group for the preservation of endangered cocktails!

Anonymous said...

super sexy...4 more and you have a calender

e d b m said...

ASSHOLE, long time no "see". Ha! Yes, they are definitely a part of the elite.

Jenn, thank you.

Breathmint, appreciate your feedback. I decided to focus on the bartender more because too often I see publications/articles on the drinks versus the personality. While the drinks are beautiful photo subjects, I want the viewer to get a sense of the bartender's personality. Each one is so different and when you do visit them at a bar, you can get a feel for them through the cocktails they make. Some will be straightforward, some are completely wacky and some are just simply ingenius. Again, thank you, feedback is a good thing.

Sharon, thanks!

OFG, you jumped the gun. That is the next phase. And in LA, the women can make a mean cocktail.

CalendarLover, wait for the coffee mug and silkscreened pillowcases to come out.

tang & bolster said...

Awesome work. I love how you mix up old school class with new school personalities.

Jennifer Heigl said...

These are beautifully done. I look forward to the next installment!

Tammy said...

Saturated color, refined use of light and general sexiness (plus a side-effect of thirst). I wholeheartedly approve!

Tammy said...

Also, I really like the consistency of the vision through the images. Well-considered. It's times like this I miss living in the US!

Anonymous said...

The image of Julian Cox makes me think of Kerry Washington's quote: "looking good in a tux can turn a nice girl into a porn star."

Amazing pictures and thanks for documenting some of the bartenders that helped me survive grad school

That's Ron said...

dude! these are great shots . well done

e d b m said...

Tang & Bolster/Jennifer H./Tammy/Anon/Ron, thanks everyone.

ila said...

all i can say is SWOON.

pleasurepalate said...

I totally loved the mood and styling of these photos. My favorite was the black and white photo of Raul Yrastorza. It had a feeling of a film noir. I almost expected a tempting siren to glide in any minute. :)

tannaz said...

gorgeous photos, and i might just be first in line for those pillowcases! this is really lovely.

Anonymous said...

absolutely gorgeous.

e d b m said...

ila/perfectsimplicity, thanks!

Abby, thank you. i wanted to capture the mood of the bartenders in their respective bars. each one felt different from the other and allowed me to find a different direction. for raul, i wanted the feeling of arriving at a bar in the darker side of town. contrary to that film noir feel, Raul is one of the nicest bartenders in LA and is not creepy at all haha.

Tannaz, how about screenprinting/airbrushing on white jeans?

Christina said...

this is nice, but it just struck me - are there no female bartenders?

Anonymous said...

Dylan, these are fantastic. I wish you could do a similar series on the Seattle bartenders.

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