When we called Jared Mort, manager at the recently revamped Oldfield's in Culver City, with a question about a cocktail, the conversation suddenly took a mixology versus Scientology turn. We'll let you ruminate on that for a moment. In the meantime, we found the hauntingly fantastic portrait of Mort by artist Jaxon Northon, above. ("Hahahaha, my friend Jaxon painted that years ago!" was the "Sent from my iPhone" message we got back upon announcing our online find).
Back to those mixology and Scientology parallels, and our chat with Mort about Oldfield's complete bartender overhaul earlier this fall (the bar was formerly known as Saints & Sinners). And yeah, that "Dauntless" pear-ginger beer holiday cocktail recipe.
Squid Ink: You've added a broad mix of bartenders over there since you re-opened as Oldfield's.
Jared Mort: Yeah, I wanted bartenders that all brought something different to the table. So I brought in Armando [Conway] who used to be at La Descarga, the rum bar, because he was really knowledgeable in rum and spicy spirits and that sort of thing. Aaron [Stepka], who used to be at Rivera and A-Frame, is really into syrups, making things for the back of the house that we use in the cocktails. And Robin [Jackson], who is from San Francisco, is our "picker," the one who goes into the woods to pick elderflower. [Jackson was formerly at the Bay Area's Club Mallard.]
SI: That's interesting, not something you always hear about at bars. But it makes sense. Like staffing a restaurant kitchen, you need people with different skills.
JM: Yeah. They're great... the first staff of bartenders I've known to be so willing to take work home with them, and bring home to work. They're constantly showing up with syrups, candied fruit for garnishes, or just testing out new ideas at home and bringing them here to try out new ideas for recipes.
SI: Back to "picker." That's a great word for forager.
JM: Yeah, exactly. I mean, Robin isn't a dumpster diver, and forager always makes me think of that.
SI: A fancy word for something basic.
JM: Right, like mixologist. Bartenders hate the word mixologist.
SI: We're not big fans of that word, either.
JM: Yeah, we're bartenders. I mean, c'mon, we work in a bar for tips! We're not working in a lab. We are mixlogists as much as a Scientologist is a scientist.
JM: Well, that word "mixologist' was just created -- made up -- by someone at some point. I always say if you feel like you have to have a fancy title, you're probably not confident in what you do.
The Dauntless Cocktail
Note: From Oldfield's Liquor Lounge. Oldfield's uses Stepka's housemade falernum syrup, a sugar cane-based syrup, but you can buy falernum syrup at well-stocked liquor stores.
1.5 ounce Bols Genever
.5 ounces Poire Williams (pear liqueur)
.75 ounces falernum syrup
.5 ounces fresh lime juice
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Fever Tree Ginger Beer, to top
1. Shake all ingredients over ice and strain over fresh ice in a 12-ounce Pilsner glass. Top with Fever Tree ginger beer. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and dried pear.
More from Jenn Garbee @eathistory + eathistory.com.