February's Bartender of the Month:
Pourer of drinks for Happy Hour at Mezcalero
510 S Broadway - DTLA.
Our current favorite bartender.
When the Long Beach Mezcalero team decided to expand its branches to DTLA, the HHC team became regulars, along with most locals. That is where we met Nathan and became quick friends.
Nathan's ingenious cocktail menu for the taqueria earned him the nickname, "Mad Scientist," within our group. You'll have to visit and take a look at the menu yourself but take our word for it, this guy is making some serious magic behind the bar.
Mezcalero's original cocktails include fresh ingredients, innovative combinations, generous pours, and a creativity you can't get elsewhere. They all come from the mind of this one man but we must also mention his dedication to keep on after Mezcalero temporarily closed it's doors for construction.
The minute we heard word that they were opening back up PLUS Nathan was still the man behind the bar, we knew we had to pay him this honor. Well, him AND the incredible Happy Hour deals at Mezcalero. Trust us when we say, you've never had cocktails like this before.
Our one on one with Nathan:
We got to sit down with Nathan over mezcal infused cocktails and tacos. He let us in on his story, how he has mastered making agave out of anything, and where he goes for inspiration.
HHC: Where were you born?
NM: I was born in Grand Rapids Michigan, but my family moved to California when I was one and a half, so California is all I’ve ever known.
HHC: Where do you currently reside?
NM: I currently live close to downtown on the edge of Korea Town.
HHC: How long have you been a bartender?
NM: I’ve been bartending on and off for the past 14 years. Been in the industry for 20 years.
HHC: When did you know you wanted to be a bartender?
NM: I knew I wanted to bartend when I was 21, but at that time it was more because it was the next position as I moved up the ladder. I didn’t realize until about 7 years ago how much I had fallen in love with what we get to do as bartenders. It’s been my passion ever since.
HHC: What’s your favorite drink to make?
NM: I enjoy going to the markets and finding something that most people wouldn’t think to put in a cocktail. I like the challenge, whether it’s mushrooms, roasted corn, or burnt tortillas. My favorite drinks to make are the ones that I’m able to integrate these type of ingredients into something people will enjoy.
HHC: What’s your favorite drink to drink?
NM: I enjoy Mezcal neat. Delicious and really hard to mess up.
HHC: What is a must have at every bar you go to/work at?
NM: A decent agave spirits selection and some personality behind the bar.
HHC: What is your favorite type of bar? Why?
NM: I like a bar that has maybe three people max sitting at the bar top. After 16 hours a day being around people it’s nice to relax in a quite bar where I can hold a conversation with the bartender or just unwind.
HHC: Where is your favorite bar? Why?
NM: My favorite Bars have been Everson Royce Bar and Nomandie Club. The second I walk in, the bartenders make me feel extremely involved in what they are doing. Instantly engaged and attentive no matter how busy they are.
HHC: What kind of typical bar regular do you like?
NM: I really enjoy seeing the same faces everyday. Becoming part of their family. My favorite kind of regular would have to be the kind that know how to sit at a bar. Not the ones who feel entitled or exempt from the rules.
HHC: Do you know any bar tricks?
NM: I’m not much on tricks. I know how to keep people at my bar, so maybe that’s considered a trick?
HHC: How did you end up working where you are now?
NM: I started for the owner I work for now about 2 years ago. I started off bartending and soon took over as the beverage director for his company. I was walking around long beach and randomly walked into one of the bars I was walking past. I saw the potential and asked for the bar manager. Turns out he was one of my regulars when I worked in San Diego.
HHC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
NM: No idea where I’ll be in five years. This line of work seems to put you where it needs. I’m constantly amazed where my jobs take me.
HHC: Have you ever invented any drinks?
NM: My favorite part of what I get to do is invent cocktails. I’ve done quite a few cocktail menus for different companies. Inventing cocktails is by far the biggest highlight of my job.
HHC: Who was/is your mentor/idol if you had one?
NM: I’ve definitely worked with some amazing bartenders, but none that ever pushed me to a limit. I’ve always based my motivation on constantly bettering myself and improving. I’ve never really known someone to look up to. I just always want to be better than I was the day before.
HHC: Where do you go for Happy Hour?
NM: I’ve unfortunately not attended a happy hour in a very very long time. I’ll basically work 14 hours a day, which normally cuts into any possible happy hour opportunities.
HHC: What’s one thing you think it takes to be a good bartender?
NM: Personality. People are usually born with certain things. Legs. A brain. A heart. They one thing people aren’t born with is a personality. It’s the difference of whether I come back or not.
HHC: What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on the job?
NM: It’s hard to decide between kicking out naked people from the bathroom or politely asking someone to discontinue sexual acts on her boyfriend at the bar.
3:00 - 7:00 P.M
510 S Broadway
We'd like to thank Nathan and Mezcalero for letting us interview, film, and shoot Nathan at work. Go visit him for Happy Hour at Mezcalero.
Thanks for reading and as always...