2014 Los Angeles Rising Star Community Bartender Kiowa Bryan of Eveleigh
8752 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
Kiowa Bryan hails from Vermont and New Jersey, where she tended bar before she was legally allowed. She avoided any legal snafus and continued in the profession as an adult, ultimately finding her calling in the world of craft cocktails. Bryan moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for three years at Sidebar, the cocktail lounge within Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel.
Her last stop before opening up the Soho House with Chris Ojeda was at Fraiche in Culver City. At Soho House, Bryan perfected her technique in one of the city’s most influential watering holes. Fraiche then asked her back to design their whole cocktail program, and Bryan followed up that gig by crafting the opening bar program at Lexington Social House. Now behind the bar at Eveleigh, and working with her “Bar Sensei” Dave Kupchinsky, Bryan is using her skills and drive to push the City of Angels forward as it matures mixologically. She started City of Angles Share, a collective of bartenders that gathers to share ideas and work on projects, and she also supports fellow women bartenders as a Speed Rack Competitor and member of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails). With Paul Sanguinetti, Bryan co-founded No Scruples, a national collective of bartenders that throws charity events with smaller craft spirit brands. She serves as the L.A. market’s brand supporter for House Spirits (i.e., Aviation Gin) as well. Bryan is an ex-competitive figure skater who loves unicorns, Star Wars, and the Yankees.
I Support: No Scruples
Why: Making an impact locally has been so fulfilling thus far, so we thought why not create a support system nationally and do this all over the country?
Interview with Los Angeles Rising Star Community Bartender Kiowa Bryan of Eveleigh
Antoinette Bruno: Why did you get into Mixology?
Kiowa Bryan: I’ve been bartending forever—since I was 18 (13 years)—at nightclubs, sports bars…I moved out here [to Los Angeles] and I wasn't a mixologist. When I worked at Soho House I got turned-on to it. [I was part of the opening team] 5 years ago. Chris Ojeda introduced me to [craft cocktails]. [Modern mixology] was new to L.A. then; Soho House is the same school of thought as Milk and Honey. It gave the guests a new experience. Right away I was turned-on to it and realized it was a career I wanted, rather than something just to make money. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to work as much as I can and learn from different people. Dave [Kupchinsky], who runs the bar program here at the Eveleigh, is very knowledgeable and loves cocktail history.
AB: What’s your favorite cocktail to make?
KB: A negroni—it's a classic and I love Campari.
AB: And to drink?
KB: So, it depends on my mood…a 50/50 martini with orange bitters and a lemon twist. It's so clean.
AB: How are you involved in the mixo community here in L.A.?
KB: It's so easy in L.A., everyone is so supportive of each other. We had a fundraiser last night with a bartender who had an accident. Another girl and I started a [club] called City of Angel’s Share: an information session where bartenders speak to each other about whatever we do. Last time we built a still, pre-prohibition and had a couple of people big in the bartending community come and speak, Naomi Shemick and Marcos Tellos—he knows everything about the history of Los Angeles. We do it once a month.
AB: What’s the hardest thing you’ve done in your career?
KB: Opening restaurants is always hard. Two weeks ago Dave and I went to Sundance and did a pop-up of Eveleigh. We took our chef and had 12 hours to flip an Italian restaurant into our pop-up. It was the hardest work I ever had to do, but the payback was amazing. We had a clothing sponsor and a multimedia sponsor. I don't know exactly the numbers. Then there was Surfclub: a pop-up they do in Montauk. Some of the owners had people out there, it was a collaboration more on the design side. We had cocktail parties and dinners every night. We had a dinner for 60 people, a 300-person cocktail party, it was nuts for a whole week straight.
AB: Where do you see yourself in five years?
KB: I would love to own my own bar. Not necessarily an elaborate, huge, sprawling thing like this place (I love this place!), but I want a tiny, more dive-y place with a TV, pool table, Big Buck Hunter…a cozy dive bar with a small cocktail menu and me and my two best friends [Daniel Warrilow and Paul Sanguinetti] behind the bar, where we know all of the classic cocktails and know them very well. You can have all of the cocktails you want, but also have quality beer and spirits.
AB: Tell me about this Bols on Parade cocktail [Bols Genever, Fino Sherry, Lemon Juice, House Lavender-Pistachio Orgeat, Angostura Butters, and Egg Whites].
KB: It's a variation on an Army Navy. I’m super into clever names, and also a fan of Rage Against the Machine, so, I took [inspiration from] the song Bulls on Parade. The whole theme of our restaurant is an Australian ranch; the skull chandelier ties in nicely.
AB: What was your inspiration for Little Mexico [Repasado Tequila, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, Cynar, Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili Bitters]?
KB: Audrey [Saunders] made the Little Italy at a 2009 Manhattan competition. Everyone did Manhattan variations and named them after a part of New York. I added chocolate chili bitters and tequila—she did it with rye. It’s an ode to Audrey.
AB: What about the Kentucky Beet Down [Vanilla Bean-Roasted Beets, Sea Salt, Lemon, Honey, Ginger, and Four Roses Bourbon]?
KB: It's a beet Penicillin. L.A. loves Penicillins and Sammy Ross. As stereotypical as it sounds, a Penicillin is L.A.'s drink.