[BETTER KNOW A BARTENDER] A Whiskey Gal from Wine Country

The Larchmont area is home to some of Los Angeles’ best bars and restaurants; but how well do you know the bartenders who help keep the party going? This month we sat down with Chenoa Casen, bartender at Odys + Penelope, to discuss her career and favorite drink.

Where are you from?

 I’m from the Bay Area. Wine Country.

Napa?

No, Sonoma. We like saying Napa makes auto parts, Sonoma makes the wine.

What brought you to L.A.?

I’ve lived in L.A. on and off for ten years. I’m a musician and an audio engineer. I record music and mix and master. I have my own little studio at home and work at other studios around L.A. I had left for a little while and went back home to study and sell wine. That was awesome, but there was a big void missing from my life, so I had to come back and pursue that.

What kind of music do you do?

All different types: pop, R&B, hip-hop, funk. I play the piano, flute and saxophone but I’m mostly in the background recording.

How long have you been bartending?

I’ve been bartending since I was 21. I started in Studio City at the Bistro Garden and from there have worked in many different areas, doing different bartending.

How did you get into bartending?

I was a cocktail waitress for a few years before I bartended and drove down to Los Angeles, where I started working as a hostess. At the Bistro Garden, where I was working as a hostess, I saw they only had two bartenders. That was my chance because I knew how to make those drinks anyway. I went to the bartender and said “I see you’ve only got two bartenders and that’s a double for each of them. That’s a lot. You might need someone to pick up the slack and I could do that!” He let me start bartending there. I started with a lot of old fashioned cocktails and then graduated to mixology and that’s where I am now.

What’s one of the funniest, weirdest or most interesting things you’ve seen on the job?

I’ve seen a lot. I worked at a place that was open 24 hours a day.

A 24-hour bar?

Well, the alcohol starts at 6 a.m. and goes until 2 a.m. I saw everything from people sleeping at the bar to huge fights. I’ve had glasses thrown at me because people were in arguments. From the let out of customers at 2 a.m. to the wee small hours of the morning just before we can start serving liquor again, the people are really different. You know, they’re either drunk or still drunk or who knows. I can’t really pin point one answer. I’m no longer surprised when I see something.

What is one of your favorite drinks, how do you make it and what do you like about it?

My favorite drink is an Irish Maid. We make something similar here called a Cucumber Collins with vodka, but I’m a whiskey gal. I’ll drink bourbon, rye, Irish; though I’m not too into scotch since it’s a bit too rough for me. It’s hard to find mixed drinks made with whiskey, so when I first made this I was shocked by how refreshing it was.

Irish Maid 

2 oz Irish Whiskey

¾ oz Lime Juice

¾ oz Simple Syrup

Muddled cucumber

Muddled mint

Shake with ice and double strain into an ice filled highball glass. Fill to the top with soda water.

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