January’s Bartender of the Month:
Shaker of Cocktails at: District DTLA
700 W 7th St - The Bloc DTLA
Our current favorite bartender.
The Bloc is soon to be DTLA’s new shopping and entertainment destination- a new movie theater, Macy’s, Uniq-Lo, LA Fitness, Handcrafted, The Sheraton, and it’s bar/restaurant District. The man behind the bar is Tony Gonzales, and he has Esquire award-winning cocktails for a reason.
Tony has humble roots and learned alongside true masters of the cocktail craft. His creations have earned him a number of awards, Esquire included, but it was his welcoming and down to earth attitude that caught our attention.
Tony’s dedication and creativity shine from beginning to end, from glassware to ice, and from bar to patron. Manning the bar and lounge at District means covering all positions on the ground and he is running the show smoothly. It was the fact that we didn’t even know we were talking to an award-winning bartender when he greeted us- that made us aware of his modesty and true passion for creating a cocktail experience, and thus we honor him with the title.
Our One On One with Tony:
We got to chat with Tony while he carved a diamond ice cube, made some cocktails, and talked to us about how he got to where he is, the craziness of being on the scene at some of the best cocktail expos around, and how he plans to change up the ice game.
HHC: Where were you born?
TG: I was born in Houston, TX.
HHC: Where do you currently reside?
TG: Los Angeles (Mount Washington neighborhood)
HHC: How long have you been a bartender?
TG: I’ve been doing this since 2006.
HHC: When did you know you wanted to be a bartender?
TG: When I realized that the art and creativity were endless.
HHC: What’s your favorite drink to drink? OR what is your favorite drink to make?
TG: I like to drink a smoked Negroni I like to make egg white cocktails and have fun with the design.
HHC: What’s your favorite drink/meal pairing?
TG: Wine and beer work better when pairing with meals than cocktails. Mainly because cocktails are a meal in themselves, with a ton of flavors and balances, so I can’t say.
HHC: What is a must have at every bar you go to/work at?
TG: Care and love in the art of cocktails is a must.
HHC: What is your favorite type of bar? Why?
TG: Classic cocktail bar with a ton of innovation!
HHC: What kind of typical bar regular do you like?
TG: One who is willing to try anything I make with an open mind.
HHC: Do you know any bar tricks?
TG: I carve ice diamonds, smoke cocktails, and have a flame thrower.
HHC: How did you end up working where you are now?
TG: I was sought out from another bar to help open District with a creative but easily executed cocktails.
HHC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
TG: I love to teach techniques and history and release and empower people. So maybe working with a brand or going around and teaching hotels how to execute beautiful cocktails as well.
HHC: What is one way you think you are revolutionizing the industry? OR what is one way you think the industry needs to be revolutionized?
TG: I teach people the art and the science to make clear ice so that bars do not have to buy it. CLEAR ICE FOR ALL!
HHC: Who was/is your mentor/idol if you had one?
TG: Never really had an idol. But my current boss Steve Nydell is really good at releasing the creativity in people and building up confidence. So he would be my mentor. I bring every new creative idea to him first.
HHC: Where do you go for Happy Hour when/if you have the time?
TG: A bar that’s close to my job is ideal. “Shoo Shoo Baby” has a pretty good happy hour.
HHC: What’s one thing you think it takes to be a good bartender?
TG: One thing broken down in thee faucets. HOSPITALITY - knowledge, passion, and creativity.
HHC: What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on the job?
TG: Floyd Mayweather came to my bar with his friends and left $1,000 for each bar staff in cash. Crazy.