Table 20 Announces LA’s Best Bartender

The Six Finalists

Table 20, the new website for restaurant and bar industry job seekers, masterminded a search for LA’s Best Bartender. It was the enviable task of five judges to vote for the best of the six finalists culled from over 40 entries. Bartenders were nominated by regular joe schmoe cocktailians lushes boozers like myself.  I have to thank Table 20 for asking me to run a small contest. That was a lot of fun.

Of the bartenders I nominated, Devon Espinosa made it to the finals. I went to the party at Takami on Monday to cheer him on.

The Finalists:

Matt Biancaniello of Library Bar at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood
People’s Choice Bartender Winner

Joseph Brooke of The Edison, Downtown LA

Max Diaz of Cicada Club, Downtown LA & Cole’s, Downtown LA

Devon Espinosa of  The Tasting Kitchen, Venice

Dee Ann Quinones of Susan Feniger’s Street, Hollywood, The Parlour Room, Hollywood & Philippe Chow, West Hollywood

Alex Straus of Suite 700 at Hotel Shangri-La, Santa Monica & Hemingway’s Lounge, Hollywood

Matt had already won the People’s Choice Award and the judges also voted him the overall winner. I recently met Matt at Test Kitchen where he promised when I visited his bar, the Library Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel, he’d make me something special with the bourbon I love so much. Now I really can’t wait to go.

Max & Dee Ann

Marcel helping himself to Devon’s punch

The party was fantastic. Each finalist served either a hot or cold punch. Once we received our glasses filled with a single substantial Neve Ice cube, we got to mingle with the crowd and bartenders.

Matt served up what was the most interesting punch of the night utilizing Greek yogurt (!!!), toasted cumin seeds, pistachio, starfruit and rum. The resulting drink smelled a bit like Indian food. My faves this night was Devon’s punch (and not because I nominated him!) but because it went down too easy. Alex’s punch was exactly like every drink I’ve had from him- strong and awesome. Max’s punch was very nice. The warm punch would be fantastic this coming holiday season. Although I’ve had great drinks at Street, I wasn’t into Dee Ann’s. It was a bit watered down. Finally, Mr. Joe Brook arrived and brought an unfiltered apple buttery goodness drink. It smelled like the best oatmeal you could ever want. I told Joe it smelled like breakfast. And yes, in a good way.

I am wondering how I can get into the cocktail judging business. Hey! I have experience!

Sponsors of the evening’s fun:

Table 20


Don Q Rum

Neve Ice