Tronicle Spotlight: A Q&A With The Most Interesting Bartender In The World

Actually, let me clarify. He’s not just a bartender. He doesn’t merely stand behind the counter and aimlessly sling appletinis for bachelorette parties and preening West Hollywood men.

He is the Jedi Liquor Master.

He’s creative. He’s hilarious. He’s so knowledgeable that I’m convinced he understands some sort of magical alcoholic algorithm which doesn’t even exist.

His name is Alex Goode. (It’s pronounced Goody, like Goody-Two-Shoes, but don’t even think of saying that to him. You’ll get an ice cube to the eyeball.)

If you don’t know him, you should. I had the fortunate experience of meeting him awhile back when he tended bar at Mixology 101. His piercing blue eyes, adorable little bow tie, and witty humor immediately won me over. I figured I could simply tip him really well and essentially just buy his friendship. (My plan totally worked.) To this day, I’m not sure if Alex considers me a friend or a loyal customer, or a mixture of both…but I don’t care. I’m lucky to know him.

Oh, and I did I mention this year he was at Cannes Film Festival as a brand ambassador for Cointreau?

These days, you can find Alex working his wizardry of spirits at Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood. Though he doesn’t actually use a magic wand to mix drinks (as far as I know), he works alongside other talented mixologists  who are sure to enchant you while they conjure up cocktails.

Alex was kind enough to sit down with me and answer some questions about his quest into becoming the Messiah of Mixology.

When/ where did you start tending bar?

In New York. I ran the lobby bar at an upscale hotel before I could even spell Cosmopolitan. My boss (and subsequently, my first mentor) was this amazing artist chick who knew I had zero experience but gave me the job anyway. I owe her my first born.

How did you transition from pouring more “typical” cocktails into mixology and specialty drinks?

I learned to bartend under fire in New York. Speed is so so important – but you can’t forget that the customer always comes first. I met my current mentor Joe Brooke almost two years ago when he was assembling the opening team for Mixology 101 – and yes, I liked to think of us as the Avengers of bartending (I guess I’d be Captain America?). Anyway, Joe whipped my ass into shape and showed me not just how to create an incredible cocktail, but how to utilize my natural propensities to give the guest an incredible experience as well. It’s all about customer service. Drinks taste better when I serve them with a smile…or a flamethrower.

What’s the most fun/ enjoyable part of what you do?

I really enjoy the performance aspect. Again, it’s not what you prepare, but how you prepare it. When I can keep my bar entertained, I’m doing it right. Ok, I also really like setting things on fire.

Is there anything in particular that you dislike, or makes you groan/ roll your eyes?

There’s a very negative trend in the industry that has a lot of my peers bad mouthing certain spirits and cocktails. I just wanna tell them to chill. Everyone has different tastes. I don’t like pomeranians but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna go around kicking every pomeranian I see. Wait…I was trying to form a metaphor there but I lost it. Um, yeah, everyone has different tastes, so stop running around kicking vodka bottles. It’s not cool.

Are there any drinks you will refuse to make if someone orders one?

Absolutely not. You want a calorie-free, vegan, kosher, flaming shot of bubblegum strawberry shortcake vodka with two raw eggs and three dashes of Ango? Sure, coming right up. Service with a smile.

What’s your favorite drink to make?

When I have the time? An Old Fashioned. But, when it’s midnight, six-deep at the bar, my feet hurt, my hands are covered in broken glass and tequila, my barback is vomiting blood in the bathroom, and I just want to get everyone served so they’ll stop screaming “EY, BARTENDER!”? A vodka soda.

What inspires you when you’re creating a drink menu? 

I take inspiration wherever I can get it. My friends, my peers, a really good or interesting meal; inspiration can come at the strangest times. You don’t wanna know where I came up with the idea for my winning Cointreau cocktails.

When you’re hanging out with friends at home, are you automatically the assigned drink-maker?

My friends and I so rarely get nights off together that when we finally do, a beer and a pizza is about all it takes to keep us happy. We are so cocktailed-out from the week that the simplest pleasures are all we need. But whenever I visit family back home in Chicago, it’s on like Donkey Kong. I can’t remember the last family party where I didn’t sling drinks all night. I even ended up mixologizing at my girlfriend’s sister’s wedding.

What do you enjoy drinking the most?

It depends on the circumstances, but I’m usually a beer or whiskey guy. I’ll order something spicy or full-bodied while chilling out, or grab a really cold IPA or chocolately stout while watching the game or having dinner. I’ve had some really incredible aged rums too. As far as cocktails go, I love the classics, but I could drink a really great margarita by the gallon. Finding that really great margarita, though, is another story…

What do you think is the most awful drink on earth?

I was going to give you the diplomatic answer and say that all cocktails are created equal in that there is an audience for every drink, but then I remembered this shot I heard about a few days ago: it’s called the “There’s a Party in My Mouth and Everyone is Puking” and it consists of tequila, whipped cream, Worcestershire, and coleslaw juice, all layered on top of a raw egg white. If reading that didn’t make you gag just now I strongly suggest you enter the Coney Island Hot Dog Challenge. That shot sounds like it was forged in the bowels of Hell.

You must see some crazy things. Any particular story stand out?

I’ve bartended with a wallaby between my legs and a bald eagle on my shoulder (I have the picture to prove it); I’ve seen a guest get so angry that they threw a pumpkin across the bar at another patron; I’ve seen a man and a woman, both married to other people, begin an affair right in front of my eyes over the course of one evening; I’ve walked home from a shift at 6am, covered in Joker makeup and Jaegermeister, eating a slice of ricotta pizza from Pizza Booth on Bleecker as the sun was coming up over the East River in NY; I’ve witnessed countless make-ups and break-ups, seen the best and the worst in people, and I’ve denied a pregnant woman a second drink; and I’ve made some of my closest friends, learned some of life’s toughest lessons, and met the love of my life while working behind the bar. That said, I’d say I have a lot left to see.

So you’ve witnessed loads of chaos, you’re a brand ambassador for Cointreau, and you’re clearly a pyromaniac..where do you go from here? What’s next on the horizon for you?

This last year has been such a roller coaster that my plans literally change by the hour; then again, my dad says I have the attention span of a ferret on speed so…who can say? I’m currently collaborating on a bar-revamp at the Formosa Cafe where myself and some of LA’s more inspired up-and-comers are tending bar, including Joe Brooke and Billy Ray. With their help and a LOT of luck, I am hoping to open my own bar in the next year or two. In the meantime, I’m consulting on bar openings, guest bartending at some of the best bars in LA, and mixologizing for private events and several different spirit labels. I’m also developing my own line of barware, but that’s more of a long-term, passion project thingy. I like to stay busy.

Any final parting words to your past, current, and future customers?

You might not know me yet, but you will. #Jackpot.

Wanted: One Hubby

A few days ago, I was watching “There’s Something About Mary” and couldn’t help but snicker when one of my favorite scenes came on. Mary is having lunch with a few girlfriends and describes her perfect man:

“I want a guy who can play 36 holes and still have enough energy to take me and Warren to a ballgame and eat hot dogs, I’m talkin’ sausage hot dogs, and beer, not light beer, but beer…that’s my ad, print it up!”

This got me thinking. If I had to write a Want Ad for the perfect mate, what would it sound like?

19-year-old-me would have written:

Seeking hot Masshole who smokes Parliaments and wears baggy pants.

Must love techno, staying up all night, skateboarding, and illegal activities.

Bonus points are awarded for tattoos, piercings, goatees and pink hair.

Would prefer that you have a car, don’t live with your parents, and have never been arrested (but these requests are not deal-breakers).

You will be expected to attend raves, buy me illicit substances, and not be weirded out when I jump into cuddle puddles filled with sweaty teenagers.

If you meet these criteria, please come over with Doritos, a freshly packed bong, and the latest from Paul Oakenfold.

33-year-old me would write:

Seeking intelligent beefcake who enjoys sarcasm and using lint rollers.

Must love cats, organizing your sock drawer, and celebrity gossip.

Bonus points are awarded if you vacuum more than 3 times a week, alphabetize your books and CDs, and rearrange your fridge for fun.

Would prefer that you can cook,  own a nice suit, and have an obsession with hot sauce (but these requests are not deal-breakers).

You will be expected to compete in Tough Mudders, put up with my neuroses, and keep your apartment immaculate at all times.

If you meet these criteria, please come over with banana peppers, a bottle of Jamesons, and the latest copy of In Touch Weekly.

Top 10 Reasons Why It Rules To Be A Tomboy

1) Because I’m not expected to cook.

I admit that, yes, I SHOULD know how to cook, as a 33 year old single gal living by myself. But I don’t. And I realize this will likely render me an unsuitable wife, but I don’t really have the desire to learn how. I’m perfectly happy not owning an apron, not knowing how to turn on my oven, and just grabbing a bomb falafel sandwich from Whole Foods for dinner every night.

2) Because I can wear Chuck Taylors 7 days a week.

There is a small part of me that envies my girlfriends who strut around in 6 inch platforms like silky panthers gliding through a field, but I will never be that girl. I’ve been told that when in heels, I resemble a newborn giraffe with sad wobbly knees. On those days, faceplanting is a common occurrence.

3) Because when I do actually dress up, people are astounded.

These occasions are infrequent, but are always met with the same comments:

“WOH, Kimmy, you have a tattoo on your calf?”

“Damn, your legs are supremely pale.”

“I didn’t know you owned a skirt.”

“You look annoyed.”

“Why do you have sweatpants and flip flops stuffed into your purse?”

4) Because I can swear like a sailor.

I know this isn’t the most attractive habit, but what do you expect? I’m a Masshole. Half the time I don’t even realize I’ve dropped 4 f-bombs in one sentence. I’ve tried using swear jars in the past, but I get too f*cking annoyed at how many time I have to throw in money and end up smashing the jar against the f*cking wall.

5) Because I don’t have to get my nails done every week.

For a few months in high school, I had those acrylic tips attached to my nails. They looked awesome and feminine. But much like the girls who wear them, acrylics are annoying, high maintenance, and expensive. I soon bit off the acrylic tips one by one and spent the money I saved on marijuana.

6) Because I can be loud and obnoxious.

Anyone within a 50 mile radius knows that I’m loud. I used to be a little self-conscious about how loud I am, but I’ve stopped caring. Years of raving have destroyed my hearing, so most of the time I don’t realize that my decibel level rivals that of a fire engine.  On the plus side,  if I lose you at an amusement park, I’ll find you within 10 minutes, guaranteed.

7) Because my idea of flirting usually consists of insulting a dude.

Sure, the normal way to flirt with a guy is to ask questions, have good conversation, and toss in a few compliments. I prefer to discover your insecurities then make you feel bad about them. I’ve heard men like it when you belittle them.

8) Because punching stuff is incredibly satisfying.

I’ve never gotten into a fistfight, but if I were a man, there’s no doubt I’d have thrown some punches in a drunken stupor during college. Luckily I found a healthier outlet for this sensation in the form of boxing lessons. There’s something inexplicably fulfilling about hearing the thwack of your boxing glove as it makes contact with your trainer’s stomach.

9) Because getting dirty is a filthy good time.

If you’ve never tried a Tough Mudder or other mud/ obstacle race, I highly recommend signing up immediately. If you’re wondering why they are so amazing, think back to when you were a kid. You played in the mud. You rolled around in the dirt. Your impeccably clean little Fruit of the Loom Tshirt would come back to Mom all disgusting and she would sigh as she threw it in the washing machine. Because getting messy and dirty was fun back then, and it’s still fun now.

10) Because whiskey shots!

Improving Your Cover Letter: Business Cat Says Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

Part of the pain in the ass thrill of job hunting is sending out a billion resumes and cover letters, aka essentially sending out a billion small sales kits to potential employers that explain what a qualified candidate you are. However, if you’re like me and suffer from a crippling case of self-loathing, it’s difficult to subscribe to the “I RULE, HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE ME!!” mentality. Plus, I’m better at winning people over if we’re face-to-face, where I can crack stupid jokes and let my sunny demeanor shine through. But since all of my resume/ cover letter submissions are in a Word doc (not video) format, I realize that I need to brush up on my verbiage and transform my weaknesses into strengths.

Here’s what I put together:

I talk way too loud = I’m enthusiastic and I have a great phone voice

I’m disorganized and don’t finish something before I start something else = I can multitask

I’ll usually wait until the last minute to complete a task = I work well under pressure

I consume way too much caffeine and get jittery = I’m highly motivated

I gossip with coworkers = I work well on a team

I gossip with clients = I have excellent communication skills

I only cry in the privacy of the bathroom (or at home) if I mess up = I’m thick-skinned

I like when no one is around so I can blast 80s music on Pandora = I don’t require supervision or hand-holding

I know my boss will be pissed about the mistake I made 10 minutes ago = I can anticipate problems before they arise

I doodle little hearts and flowers all over Post Its = I have meticulous attention to detail

I’ll pop a Xanax if I’m stressed = I remain calm under pressure

(Note to potential employers: I don’t actually gossip with clients, take Xanax, make mistakes, or cry)

Who Needs Job Fairs? Just Consult Your TV.

Last year, I made one of the best decisions of my life and decided to go back to school for a certificate for Marketing at UCLA Extension. In those 12 months, I gained tons of useful knowledge and my teachers were encouraging, supportive, and incredibly inspirational. But before I discovered the program at UCLA, there was an extended period where I had no direction in life. During this time, I drank a little more than I should have, watched too much TV, and let every show influence my potential career choice.

For example:

DEXTER: I convinced myself I wanted to be a blood spatter analyst. Sure, I’d have to deal with dead bodies and get called to crime scenes during dinner and on holidays, but wouldn’t it be fulfilling to help solve murders? I could always get a degree from ITT Tech or one of those places that advertises late at night when your insomnia kicks in. And ok, the idea of being around a warm corpse does kind of churn my belly, but if I could stomach 4 tequila shots plus 3 dirty vodka martinis last weekend surely I can handle the smell of rotting flesh?

FACE OFF: I convinced myself I wanted to be a makeup artist. Sure, I hardly ever wear makeup and I always stab my eyeball when applying eyeshadow, but this looked like FUN! I could learn to sculpt like Demi Moore in Ghost, then enter a dazzling airbrushing frenzy when painting the costume mold. Perhaps my character would end up looking like a lumpy mountain of silicon, but then I could just cover it up with cheese and tell Glen Hetrick that I purposely created Pizza The Hut from Spaceballs. Voila!

HELLS KITCHEN: I convinced myself I wanted to be a chef. Sure, I’ve nearly set my apartment on fire a few times and I don’t own any pots or pans, but my hard work and cheery attitude are certain to win over the brash Mr. Ramsey. I would kindly smile as he called me a donkey, and keep my sunny demeanor apparent as I make a fresh order of scallops after burning them for the 73rd time.

INK MASTER: I convinced myself I wanted to be a tattoo artist. Sure, my drawing skills are heinous and I could never stay inside the lines in my coloring books, but how amazing would it feel to forever etch a stunning masterpiece on a human canvas? This idea was rather short-lived, however, when I thought about my sloppy stick-figure drawings being a permanent fixture on a person’s body.

EPISODES: I convinced myself I wanted to be a writer. Sure, the only things I’d written recently were grocery lists and emails to my parents, but how hard could it be to translate the schizophrenic thoughts in my brain into a cleverly written script? Turns out, way harder than I thought. There’s no sexy salt n pepper Matt LeBlanc in my living room asking me how how I’m doin’ and reeking of cinnamon-Joey-scented-cologne. But at least this show helped me realize I wanted, and needed, to do something creative.

So now, after I finally have a clear goal and career path in mind, I owe a debt of gratitude to UCLA. But I also owe a giant thanks to TV. As a wise man, Homer Simpson, once said, “The answer to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle, they’re on TV!”

Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Marketing

Whoever said that love and marketing have nothing to do with each other clearly knows nothing about love. Or marketing. I compiled a checklist to help make sure that your next campaign for romance will be successful.

Ladies, listen up.

Make sure to clearly define your expectations upfront.

This means letting him know that you expect to be treated like a queen. Or goddess. Foot massages are expected on a daily basis, in addition to kisses, hugs, and constantly asking how your day was. He will be expected to agree that yes, your coworker was a bitch today, and her butt HAS been getting fatter (even though he’s never met her).

Make sure his strategy is well-planned.

He must always have a clear plan for keeping this relationship afloat. His strategy should be perfectly aligned with your expectations, and if not, then you need to ensure he understands his role. Communication must be concise. If need be, leave notes in his pockets and on his windshield. Men like being corrected if they’re doing something wrong.

Make sure to conduct the 4 C’s analysis:

Cuddling: He must be the big spoon. Cuddling must occur outside the bedroom – it should be incorporated into scary movie nights, PMS, or after your bitchy coworker implied that your butt is bigger than hers.

Cooperative: He must get along with your friends, and agree even when they’re wrong.

Cocky: If he’s an ego-maniac, he’s out. Confidence is fine, but cockiness is uglier than his stupid shirt with the popped collar and bedazzled dragon.

Cats: If he doesn’t like cats, he’s out. Plain and simple.

Make sure that his key deliverables are on-time, and within budget.

Deliverables may include, but are not limited to: roses, jewelry, alcohol, books, tabloids, clothing, household appliances, toys for the cats, tickets to a show, funny cards, banana peppers, bottles of Sriracha, or Apple products. Bonus points if the deliverables are given ahead of schedule.

Make sure to explore all key areas of opportunity.

Ladies, areas of opportunity may include, but are not limited to: having him run your errands, wash your car, and clean your pool in a man-thong. If you do not have a pool, he can clean your tub in the man-thong (silver sparkles or leopard print are usually best).

If you follow these simple guidelines, you are sure to run a successful relationship campaign. And if you’re really on track, you may even get him to submit a proposal.

Tronicle Pop Quiz: Am I Crazy?

Time for a pop quiz. Grab your #2 pencil. I want to know if I’m:

A) Pleasantly Neurotic

B) Absolutely Insane

C) Lil bit of A, Lil bit of B

A few weeks ago, Ershley and I were enjoying a nice cocktail at our usual weekday stomping grounds, St Felix Hollywood, when a gentleman overheard our conversation about college promiscuity, and asked if he could join us. Being two loud/ slightly intoxicated/ single girls, we love meeting new people so we said “sure!” The gentleman sat down and we made small talk. He’s a psychologist and proceeded to pretty much give me a free session.  The session ended with him concluding, “I can’t decide if you are fun…or really crazy.”

At first, I took this as a compliment. I laughed about it for a few days. Then I got to thinking about the reasoning behind his diagnosis. I admit, I feel like some of my neuroses are abnormal. I used to chalk up my idiosyncrasies to being a Virgo. But the older I get and the more I analyze my behaviors, the more I wonder if I am nuts.

Case in point:

1) When I’m doing laundry, I have to wait until the water gushes in before dropping the detergent in. If the detergent gets in first, I’m convinced my clothes will be forever tainted with icky oozy goo and I’ll live the rest of my life looking like Venkman when he gets slimed in the hotel hallway.

2) When I’m preparing my coffee in the morning, I have to put the creamer in first. If the sugar goes in first, I’m pretty sure my yummy java will morph into caffeinated poison.

3) I can’t possibly take a shower if there’s a spot of toothpaste on the bathroom mirror. Windex is my best friend.

4) I’m absolutely terrified of taking my recycling into the garbage room in my building. The doors are very heavy and shut quickly behind you. I have to stick one foot in the door so it won’t close, and toss my recycling into the bins from the safety of the doorway. For some reason I feel like I’ll get locked in there and die a slow quiet smelly death. Rats won’t even want to nibble at my decomposed corpse.

5) I really hate putting on my shoes. Most mornings, I’ll stuff my feet halfway into my Chuck Taylors, and not bother to actually tie my shoes until I’m at Coffee Bean, or on bad days, until my lunch break.

6) If the dishes aren’t perfectly arranged in the dishwasher, I’m fairly certain they won’t get clean.

7) When I consume too much caffeine, I enter a “donation” frenzy and end up with bags and bags of clothes, books, and items to donate. Last year I went overboard and left my dresser with no socks and one pair of pants.

8) I’ve started Facebooking while going for a run <I’m kind of ashamed of this one. Damn you, Zuck.> I clearly cannot wait 5 miles to know if someone commented on my last post.

9) If I’m driving, I try not to make lefthand turns after 8pm, if possible. Don’t ask.

So perhaps the answer to this quiz is subjective. All I know is I need to go rearrange my refrigerator.