How To Order a Drink at the Edison's Radio Room, & Last Night's Recap

Trying to get to Joe.

Trying to get to Joe.

By 10:45pm, I was done. My friend Dre and I had sat on the same bar stools at the Edison’s uber-packed Radio Room night since 8 but at this point we (read: me) were tired of getting leaned on by drunk girls, projectile flirted over by drunk girls and spilled on by drunk girls as they tried very hard to interact with our bartender of the evening, Erick Castro. He was behind a wall of people and behind a bar, it ain’t happening, ladies, sheesh! Now get OFF me!

Erick Castro of Rickhouse/Bourbon & Branch

Erick Castro of Rickhouse/Bourbon & Branch

But I can’t say that I blamed them. Erick is a well-known mixologist from San Francisco, more specifically Bourbon & Branch and the new Rickhouse. And tonight he was serving up a couple of his tasty specialties. Since he was one of three of the featured bartenders of the evening, he was in very high demand so ordering drinks from him, Brian Miller (New York’s Death & Company) and the Edison’s new director of spirits, Joseph Brooke, was a near impossibility.

Ask my blogger friend estarLA, who gave up in a huff after waiting 15 minutes only to be passed over by Erick for the Amazonian flirty drunk girl who “paid” for her drink by shaking a cocktail while giggling. Or ask dapper Daniel Nelson, partner of Steve Livigni at cocktail consultation firm Top Notch Beverage Consulting, who waited patiently with everyone else to catch Erick’s eye. Or ask the other seven groups of people leaning forward around that corner of the bar, staring at Erick as if trying to will him to come to them.

You’d think I had it made, perched on the bar stool right in front of Erick’s station but even then it was difficult to get drinks. Because he was used to us being there. New people got recognized and served. I know he helped us as best he could. Erick could only make two drinks at a time and there were no backup bartenders handling the non-featured drink orders. So people ordering kamakazis and White Russians — yes, they were there — were taking up Erick’s valuable time and cocktail skills.

The patiently waiting masses.

The patiently waiting masses.

Strangely enough, people didn’t seem too bothered by all of this. Folks seemed grateful to finally get their orders in. Some even still had the energy to gush like starstruck teenyboppers when Erick served them their cocktail.

In any case, I asked Aidan Demarest, the man behind the Radio Room, if anything was going to be done to improve this situation. “We’re going to double the bartenders,” Aidan reassured me.

The Radio Room had started off as an intimate speakeasy night spread by word of mouth and has since exploded into this must-do monthly bar night getting written about on the likes of UrbanDaddy. It’s gotten too huge.

I should have suggested that they should also have a designated area for people to order drinks that aren’t on the cocktail menu, i.e. wine, Herradura Silver straight, White Russians. Let the other bartenders take care of those while the featured bartenders focus on their own cocktails.

In the meantime, here are my tips for how to get your drink quickly, or at least quicker than the norm, at the Edison during Radio Room:

  1. Order all the cocktails you want to get in one shot and then close out so you don’t have to break through the gauntlet of bar patrons again when all you want to do is leave. I know that you risk having your cocktail sit longer than it should but if you’re only going to drink two this night it won’t be too much of a compromise, especially if we’re talking drinks without ice.
  2. Get a pretty girl or blogger to order your drink for you. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Erick by Aidan so he knew to take care of us and I was able to catch Erick’s eye a bit quicker than one of the bartender patrons. I related this story to Pablo Moix of La Descarga, who was enjoying his night off here and he replied, “If it’s going to be between you and that guy, I’m going to go with you of course, the blogger.” Funny thing is, he knows that guy.
  3. If all you want is a Jack and Coke, go to one of the non-featured bartenders. You’ll be able to get your drink order in faster and easier and they’re usually located at the not-as-crowded end of the bar.
  4. When you just want to leave the drink order in your mixologist’s hands, don’t just say, “I’ll take any drink you want to make me.” If anything, specify what spirit/flavors you prefer so that the mixologist doesn’t have to waste too much time trying to figure out what you might like. And when you specify you increase your chances of getting a cocktail that you’ll love.

One drinker’s opinion of the cocktails and who was the best mixologist after the jump…

So as you know, I’ve given up booze for Lent or until the end of March. Fortunately, Dre volunteered to be my taste tester for the evening, and in exchange I was her designated driver. Dre and I go way back so even though she’s a vodka soda girl she knows my taste in cocktails.

Kentucky Buck

Kentucky Buck

Armed with free drink tickets we, or rather Dre, were able to try every cocktail created by all three mixologists there that night. And after much deliberation, Dre decided that although Erick proved a versatile mixologist offering a variety of taste sensations in his cocktails, Brian made the tastiest drinks in her opinion.

Her faves were Brian’s Miss Behavin (apple brandy, pear brandy, citrus sugar and champagne) and Gilda (tequila, pineapple, lime with cinnamon bark syrup), which Dre said tasted similar in that apple pie kind of way, followed by Erick’s Sanchos Lady and the Kentucky Buck, both potent, aromatic beauties.

I have to say, that I suspect my favorite would have been the Kentucky Buck, which apparently is Erick’s most popular drink back in San Francisco. I had the virgin version of this tasty concoction and I love the mix of ginger beer with strawberry puree. I can only imagine what it must taste like when you add some Woodford Reserve bourbon to it. Mmm!

Sancho's Lady

Sancho's Lady

As for Joe the new guy’s drinks? Unfortunately, there was no getting anywhere near him at the other bar, where he was situated. I had ordered his High Tea cocktail from one of the backup bartenders and it did not taste good.

But Dre had been able to get a sip of one that Joe made from Michel Dozois, Neve Ice, earlier in the evening and had said that it tasted frothy and yummy, reminiscent of an Orange Julius. But the second version probably wasn’t shaken as hard and that’s why it was syrupy, “tasting like orange concentrate.” And Joe’s other cocktail, The Porco Rosso, which is made with rye, Aperol, Carpano Antica and bitters and citrus was wayy too bitter for Dre. “It tastes nice but after you swallow it, it leaves a bitter aftertaste,” Dre said.

Ah well, I’ll have to revisit Joe when I’m back to drinking and see for myself. I’ve enjoyed his drinks at Copa d’Oro so look forward to great things from him at his new home at the Edison.

POST EDIT: The PR guy for the Edison, Dan Cox, said that the next Radio Room is for Tuesday, March 30, with ?March 4th Marching Band.? It promises to have even more visiting bartenders and satellite bars to keep both the cocktail enthusiasts and Red Bull/vodka crowds happy. Yay!

The Edison
108 W 2nd Street
Los Angeles, California 90012 (map)
(213) 613-0000

19 Responses to How To Order a Drink at the Edison's Radio Room, & Last Night's Recap
  1. Aaron T
    February 24, 2010 | 12:38 pm

    It was crowded last night. So many bloggers and bartenders. Brian’s drinks were excellent. Funny to see myself in one of your pics as I had staked out turf in front of Brian for the first chunk of the evening.

    One girl ordered 2 amaretto sours, a captain and diet coke and a vodka soda. I thought Brian was about to spit his drink out. Thats what happens when it becomes the Daily Candy / urban Daddy / Thrillist crowd.

  2. Jennie
    February 24, 2010 | 2:14 pm

    Wow! I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t go last night. I do know when the double bartenders are confirmed, I want to try the Miss Behavin. Slowly getting into brandy…

  3. e*starLA
    February 24, 2010 | 3:29 pm

    I ended up ordering cocktails from the actual bartenders who enlisted their recipes on the menu. So I went to Joe when I first got there (figured his line would be the longest) and got the High Tea from him – It was so awesome.

    And since I never got a drink made by Erick, I never tried any of his cocktails. The Kentucky Buck I tried (thanks Josh) was o.k., or maybe that whole experience SOURED me on even his cocktails. 😉

    Brian from Death & Co.’s were the best IMHO. And he’s cute. And I got to see Audrey Saunders catch up with him. My favorite was definitely the Gilda with the Hispaniola a close 2nd.

  4. e*starLA
    February 24, 2010 | 3:38 pm

    Oh. I HAVE to add. One of the girls who shoved her way in while you went away (and I squatted your stool) ordered “3 Kamikazes…and then 2 more.” Another ordered a White Russian.

  5. farrah
    February 24, 2010 | 10:14 pm

    As the contest winner, I have to say the event was a total blast. However I definitely agree with caroline’s description of the event. Seats were scarce and I gave up trying to chat with any of the three special bartenders due to the throngs of people crowding the bar and the intense focused expressions of the bartenders at least when I kept looking over. Fortunately the perks of the contest were fabulous. I especially appreciated the reserved table because I’ve always had trouble finding seats at the Edison. After giving up on getting drinks at the bar, my friend and I decided to take full advantage of our good-natured server who cheerily brought over all the specialty cocktails. Special thanks and double snaps to Dan Cox who was so sweet and actually gave me a 7th drink ticket. Thus, my friend and I were able to sample the entire specialty menu, which was great! The cocktails were all so imaginative and I would never have thought to pair certain flavors but clearly that is why I will never be one of the bartenders at the Radio Room.

    Thus our night ended well primarily due to Caroline and Dan Cox who held this great contest! Thank you again for the opportunity to booze it up on a Tuesday (I was clearly struggling at work the next day haha) and try new drinks and meet cool people. I thought the event was a great success and I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. Thanks Caroline for the contest and for the great blog!

    Cheers,
    Farrah

  6. Caroline on Crack
    February 25, 2010 | 10:31 am

    Aaron,
    Yeah, I was really surprised that there were so many people going there with average bar drink orders. I mean, these are the top mixologists from around the country. Wouldn’t you want something you’ve never tasted before?

    Jennie,
    Unless Brian comes to Radio Room again or you visit him in NYC, that’s the only way you’d be able to try the Miss Behavin’ unfortunately. See? You have to go to the next one. 🙂

    estarLA,
    How did Brian have time to catch up with Audrey? Seemed like those guys were too busy mixing all the time. Nonstop! I don’t know how they did it. They must have guns of steel.

    Farrah,
    I’m so glad you had a great time and, more importantly, got home safely after all that drinking. And yes, props to Dan for taking care of everyone.

  7. e*starLA
    February 25, 2010 | 12:07 pm

    It was at the end (after you left) … around 11:30 by then. 🙂 When things were winding down and the night got later, my mood definitely perked up.

  8. Mary (Mary's Monday Musicology)
    February 25, 2010 | 3:06 pm

    I’ve been wanting to go to the Edison for a long time but never made it out there. Love checking out your blog. Glad you are staying strong on the lent thing!!

  9. Caroline on Crack
    February 25, 2010 | 3:11 pm

    estarLA,
    Damn. Sounds like I left when things were getting good. When the bartenders were able to come up for air.

    Mary,
    Yup! There was one point during the night when I smelled bourbon and instantly salivated. But I’m gonna do this thing. 32 more days to go!

  10. Natalie - The Liquid Muse
    February 25, 2010 | 5:13 pm

    I love the Edison AND the Radio Room concept, and am buddies with many of the bartenders visiting from other cities… but truth be told, I hate bustling crowds and waiting for a drink. Even though I am a blogger, and a mixologist, and friends with many of the people working in the bars, I prefer to either go early before its too busy or visit on a slower night.

    Erick is awesome – def check out Rickhouse when you go to San Fran. We had a party up there in Jan and its a wonderful place with great drinks and cool bartenders.

  11. Food GPS
    February 26, 2010 | 12:03 am

    Projecting flirting? Hilarious.

    My advice for Radio Room is to show up after 11, when the crowds have died down, you don’t have to wait long for drinks, and you can actually converse with the bartenders.

    Good recap.

  12. Caroline on Crack
    February 26, 2010 | 8:35 am

    Natalie,
    I, too, hate crowds and trying to get through all that for a drink that’s why I show up early but Radio Room fills up fast! I def wanna check out the Rickhouse though.

    Food GPS,
    I noticed that things did calm down after 11 but I’m an early bird so that makes it kinda tough to come/stay late. Especially on a school night :(.

  13. […] Brooke, the Edison’s new director of spirits, when he was mixing cocktails at the packed Radio Room last week. But was thrilled when I got the chance to interview him for LA Weekly’s Squid Ink. For that, […]

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  16. […] could say the event is sort of like a cross between the Edison’s Radio Room and the pop-up Ludo Bites, in that the guest mixologists from other venues are featured and […]

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  19. […] Stone‘s R&D room and B-Side’s now defunct Mixtape Wednesdays, the Edison’s Radio Room, a speakeasy night that was the brainchild of Aidan Demarest (Spare Room), was the only game in […]

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