Meet Eric Tecosky: Bartender/Writer/Olive Juice Maker/Zeppelin Fan and Inventor of the Surfer On Acid

Someone raised Eric Tecosky well. Smart, fun, absurdly good-looking, with a scholar's knowledge of seventies rock music and manners befitting a southern gentleman, ET (as he's familiarly known) is, to the best of my knowledge, the only hyphenate of his kind: Bartender/Writer/Olive Juice Maker/Zeppelin Fan and inventor of the Surfer On Acid (a dorm-room dream shot consisting of Jager, Malibu, and pineapple).

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Squid Ink sat down with the Jones bar man at Tom Bergin's on Fairfax, where shamrocks inscribed with regulars' names cover the ceiling, a Cheers-like staff of pourers are quick with a quip and companion barflies divulge their most intimate secrets in the amount of time it takes to smoke a cigarette.

Still Life at Tom Bergin's
Still Life at Tom Bergin's
Deborah Stoll

Squid Ink: When did you come to L.A.?

Eric Tecosky: Straight out of college I moved here to start a production company with a friend of mine from junior high. Within six months we'd sold a show to NBC and then realized we had nothing in common and split up. I needed a job and tried to get one at Jones. When I went in and asked if they had any bartending shifts they looked at me and were like, "no."

SI: Why? What were you wearing?

ET: Well they only had female bartenders. And I didn't know it at the time, but I wouldn't have been ready for Sean.

SI: He's the owner?

ET: He owns Jones, Swingers, Good Luck Bar, El Carmen, Bar Lubitsch, The Roger Room, The Bowery Hotel in New York...

SI: How does Jones fit into L.A.'s cocktail culture movement?

ET: The good thing about L.A. cocktail bars versus say, the ones in New York, is that in a lot of those places, if you don't ask for an Aviation with the right gin you're an asshole and I don't like that. I want people to walk into Jones and feel like, 'I can get an Irish Car Bomb, hit on every bartender and pass out in the hallway' or get a Hemmingway Daiquiri. Everything has its place.

SI: What made you start Dirty Sue?

ET: The annoyance of making dirty martinis; every bar has a big gallon jar of olives they use and most of the time they'll be no juice left and the olives rot. One night I was three deep at Jones and somebody ordered a dirty martini and of course we had these jars of olives with no juice, so I ran out to the store and bought a jar, pried it open and thought, 'How the fuck has no one bottled olive juice yet?' The highlight has been Dale Degroff, in his new book The Essential Cocktail, giving a shout out to Dirty Sue as the best olive juice on the market.

SI: Has creating it scratched the itch you used to get from writing full-time?

ET: Building the website, designing labels, selling, getting press - that definitely fulfills an entrepreneurial desire, but there's nothing like sitting in your little cave writing. I'm actually three quarters of the way thru a novel right now. My ideal life would be to have a home office, I'd write, keep one night at Jones because I love being behind the bar and I'd spend my summers on the East Coast.

SI: To what do you attribute your ability to bartend, grow a company and work on a novel? Where do you get that kind of stick-to-it-ness?

ET: I've failed so much in my life at different things - I've owned a nightclub, I tried to make a documentary about Terry Reid, but now I have a company, I went to college. No matter what I'll land on my feet. The journey's the best part.

SI: Really?

ET: Well, it is once you make it.

Jones: 7205 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 850-1726.


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