From Ryan Gosling to Sandra Oh …

Recently while scrolling thru my Esquire mag feed I came across a headline about actor Ryan Gosling when he was preparing for a role where he was supposed to be so suave and smooth that he had to know how to make an Old Fashioned for his on-screen paramour, Emma Stone.

Eric Alperin

I almost gave it a miss, as I’ve never had much interest in cocktails, prefer my booze straight up. Find most cocktails, like badly made wines, way too cloying and sweet. But as I am always advocating how important it is to keep an open mind for everything from music to sex to politics and wine, I clicked on it and was I ever glad that I did.

Discovered that Gosling went to The Varnish, a small, intimate bar with no windows in downtown LA where its bartender/owner Eric Atelier was happy to show him the proper technique in making an Old Fashioned. Reading thru the article I became very intrigued about Atelier’s story. Switched over to Amazon to read his newly published memoir Unvarnished, about how he went from wannabe actor to one of the top bartenders in the country.

And after polishing it off in one big gulp read, I came away with a whole new appreciation for the art of making and serving a good cocktail. See what I mean about keeping an open mind? Wanted to talk to the man himself, his PR gal said he was in the midst of opening a new bar, so we played email tag for a bit, when he responded, I’m in Pioneer Town. I replied, where the f@$% is Pioneer Town? (It’s in the San Bernardino desert) And if he shot me his number I’d promise not to send it to bill collectors.

He must have laughed his ass off because he called a few minutes later and we had a ball doing the NSI quiz. Cheers and enjoy…

Last night’s dinner? Tacos at my new place here in Pioneer Town called the Red Dog Saloon.

Red Dog Saloon

Favorite music? I like old time rock n’ roll with some country thrown in, with the two Willies leading the way.

Any wine, restaurant or trip on your bucket list? Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Napa and would love to go. And if I’m going to go there, might as well wish big and hope to have dinner at the French Laundry.

Favorite drink? I like a Negroni or a straight up gin martini. (the latter is a man after my heart).

Favorite place to dine in LA? I love a place called Found Oyster. Just great, great seafood and a lot of fun to dine there.

Favorite thing about living in LA? I love the camaraderie in the bar scene in LA and also I love being able to get out into nature when I got a day off.

What makes a great bar? Three things. Service, lighting and temperature.

I can understand service, but lighting and temperature? Well, you need the right temperature so your clients are comfortable and their drinks are at the right temperature as well. And lighting, the same thing, you want to create a good mood and don’t want to be too bright or too dark

I chuckled and said, oh man I was at this old time meat joint in Seattle called El Gaucho and I could barely see in front of me…Eric returned the chuckle… that’s what I mean, that’s too dark, but I’m sure the food was great… You got that right, had a perfectly grilled, blood rare, steak sandwich at the bar.

The Varnish

Any brush with celebrity? (I was hoping he was going to tell me a Sandra Oh tale as she’s had a cocktail or two at Varnish, and the web gal and I love that series Killing Eve but he opted for a Ryan Gosling story instead)… Actually Sandra Oh was friends with one of my former employees and I never really got to say hello to her. We try to have a New York attitude here and give people their space. But Ryan Gosling still drops into Varnish for a drink now and again, and we treat him just the same as anyone else which he likes.

Sandra Oh & Jodie Comer

Final thoughts? Just tell people, do whatever they can to support their local restaurants and bars now. Order takeout, you can get cocktails for takeout as well. Believe you me, any order is very appreciated.

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Final thoughts? Just tell people, do whatever they can to support their local restaurants and bars now. Order takeout, you can get cocktails for takeout as well. Believe you me, any order is very appreciated.