The best thing that’s ever happened to me was being stood up by Aidan Demarest, owner of Neat bar in Glendale and Stoli Elit ambassador. One night we were supposed to meet at Mixology 101 at the Farmers Market but after an hour and a cocktail and still no Aidan, I figured he was either dead or just wasn’t coming at all. Turns out the guys at Sunny Spot in Venice (bastards) had “kidnapped” him and his phone died so he couldn’t tell me he couldn’t make it. Blah. Now, Aidan’s a charismatic fellow so I wondered how he’d talk himself out of this faux-pas.
“Please don’t hate me. I never flake like that…Can I take you to a ridiculously expensive lunch? Anywhere you want. I feel awful,” said his text. “Polo Lounge!” I replied. Naturally I later added, “Nah, we don’t have to go there, I was just busting your chops.” But he insisted so who was I to turn that down?
What followed was one of the best nights of my life in L.A. We met up at Beverly Hills Hotel’s historic Polo Lounge where he let me taste the $3K Stoli Elit Pristine Water Series Himalayan Edition and we sipped on a Moscow Mule and the Garden Gimlet (cucumber puree, cilantro, jalapeno syrup) both made with Stoli Elit of course. And despite his gluten allergy and my lactose intolerance we indulged in what was the best cheese plate we’ve ever had.
Afterward we cabbed it to Sunset Tower’s Tower Bar for more cocktails (The Dimitri — muddled Luxardo cherries, lime, Stoli Elit, Hendricks — and the Rosatto Punch — lemon, grapefruit Oleo Saccharum, Rosatto Vermouth, London Dry and Fernet), grilled artichoke and the spectacular view and then walked down Sunset Boulevard to the Eveleigh to visit guest bartenders Areal‘s Mia Sarazen and Rich Andreoli. As I said, one of the best nights of my life.
This was helped by the fact that I got to peek at what life for a bon vivant and gadabout was like. When you’re such a person, you run into people you know in the most random places — be it the back patio of the Polo Lounge or crossing the street to hail a cab, people actually cheer when you walk into a room and folks will most likely forgive you anything, including standing them up.
In any case, here are a few other lessons from the man.
- Use Uber or cabs to get around during a night of drinking.
- When having a meeting at a hotel, make sure to take a dip in the pool (after the meeting). While Aidan took me on a tour of the pool at the Sunset Tower Hotel he said how one day he had a meeting there and he just couldn’t wait til it was over so he could jump in the pool. Sure enough after his business was done, he purchased a $120 bathing suit from the hotel and ended up spending several hours in the pool.
- When looking at a long night of drinking, start off with neat spirits. The liqueurs and fruit juices are usually what end up doing a number on your stomach.
- Run 4 to 6 miles five days a week to stave off the effects of all that rich eating and drinking.
- Hangover treatments include running (great for sweating out the toxins) and nursing apple cider vinegar and milk thistle tea, which cleanses and detoxes an overburdened liver.
- Invest in disposable phones as they tend to get lost in the course of a booze-fueled evening. Aidan’s lost his phones to many a cab and a hotel swimming pool.
- Don’t let your dislike of something stop you from giving it another chance. Aidan used to not be a fan of vodka, like most cocktail folks, but when Stoli Elit approached him to be its ambassador for that very reason he acquiesced. I will attest to the fact that even though he clearly hosted me, it is one of the smoothest vodkas I’ve ever tasted. Not saying I’d give up gin and whiskey for it but I’d be interested to see what the bars around town do with it. Apparently, the bar folks, including Providence’s Zahra Bates, love the Stoli Elit Farmers Martini cocktail at Mixology 101.
- Even if you have a food allergy, if the food is too good to resist, go for it. Aidan discovered a few years ago that he is allergic to gluten. He used to rep for Edison beer and when he realized that waking up each morning to a face the size of a dinner platter was related to his drinking beer he cut down on his gluten intake. But still, every now and then he’ll indulge and suffer the consequences. “It’s worth it,” he says. Naturally it goes without saying that those with extreme food allergies that can result in death should not do this, but speaking as someone who’s a bit lactose intolerant myself, I will gladly suffer the aftermath of a cheese plate at the Polo Lounge.
- If you are the last to close a bar and experience what might be paranormal activity, send in four security guards to sweep the area. Aidan told me this fantastic ghost story about one night when he was closing Hollywood Roosevelt’s Spare Room for the night and I had to include it. It was one of the rare times he was doing it sober, he said. He was shutting off the lights for the bowling alley when he got that weird tingly feeling that he wasn’t alone in the bar. Everyone else had already left but he had heard voices. After looking around he confirmed there was no one else in the room. But when he shut off all the lights, he said he heard a distinct woman’s laugh, like a “HA ha!” Thinking that some crazy person off Hollywood Boulevard might have sneaked into the bar when he wasn’t looking, he got angry and a bit scared so he called security to sweep the area. Sure enough…they didn’t find anyone. Creeeepy!
Speaking of the Stoli Elit Vodka and Spare Room, on Monday, April 23 they will be hosting a guest bartending night featuring Christy Pope of New York’s Cuff and Buttons. Christy and Spare Room beverage director Naomi Schimek will take turns spinning at the DJ deck and shaking cocktails. Funn! And Christy created a special cocktail for the night, Teaches of Peaches — Elit Remix: Stoli Elit Vodka, Blum Marillen Apricot Eau de Vie, Merlet Peach, housemade ginger syrup, lemon juice, lemon verbena and club soda.