L.A.'s Craft Cocktail Boom

Four game-changing bartenders to know in Los Angeles' bourgeoning cutting edge cocktail scene

The Varnish
Eric Alperin of The VarnishThe Varnish/ DYLAN + JENI

Good Taste Award Winner 2015: Los Angeles, Breakout Cocktail Scene

Los Angeles' drinking landscape has undergone a massive expansion over the last two years, spreading from downtown to almost every neighborhood and including both flawless classics and cutting-edge concoctions. Here, four game-changing bartenders to know

The Veteran
Eric Alperin of The Varnish
Craft cocktails were rare in L.A. in 2007 when New York City barkeep Eric Alperin went West to open The Varnish in the back of Cole's, a classic downtown French Dip joint. The pioneering speakeasy turned out to be the training ground for future star bartenders like Chris Bostick, Marcos Tello, and Chris Ojeda, who have gone on to open their own cocktail operations. Alperin also set the standard for impeccably made drinks at The Varnish, which it maintains today with riffs like the crisp John Collins (pictured above; $13), featuring malty genever instead of gin.
118 E 6th Street
(213) 265-7089
Mon-Wed: 4pm-2am; Thurs-Sat: 3pm-2am; Sun: 5pm-2am

The Innovator
Devon Tarby of Normandie Club and Walker Inn
A partner at cocktail consulting company Proprietors LLC, Devon Tarby got her start at The Varnish before linking up with David Kaplan and Alex Day at the disco-themed Honeycut, which bridged the gap between serious cocktails and clubby nightlife. Their latest venture is the neighborhood watering hole Normandie Club, with a hidden, geekier bar, Walker Inn, inside. For the latter, Tarby worked up a list of location-inspired drinks like the Sonoma, a heady mix of chardonnay, calvados, honey, verjus, and a white-pepper distillate ($20).
3162 W 6th Street (213) 263-2709
Open nightly: 8pm-2am

The Restaurant Trendsetters
Josh Goldman & Julian Cox of Soigné Group
If you've dined in Los Angeles, you've probably encountered the liquid work of Josh Goldman and Julian Cox, the go-to consulting team for many of the city's restaurants, including Bestia and Picca. Their latest program is at Belcampo, a butcher shop—restaurant hybrid in Santa Monica where they match the meat-heavy menu with mezcal and whiskey drinks. (Their delicious Sherry Cobbler, $12, marries two kinds of sherry and accents them with the slight smokiness of scotch.)
The Santa Monica restaurant, where Josh's program is featured, is located at:
Belcampo Meat Co.
1026 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Mon-Sun from 11 AM-3 PM; Fri & Sat from 5 PM-11 PM; and Sun-Thurs from 5 PM-10 PM