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).
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.
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?
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.
ET: Well, it is once you make it.
Jones: 7205 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 850-1726.