[BETTER KNOW A BARTENDER] Penicillin by Edmon’s Bartender/Therapist

Bartending is not just about making great cocktails, but also listening, said Edmon’s drink maker Fernando Betancourt. Photo: Michael Darling.

This month The Ledger sits down with Fernando Betancourt, bartender at the Edmon, to discuss his career and favorite drinks.

Where are you from?

Culver City.

How long have you been bartending?

Since about 2010.

How’d you get into bartending?

My grandfather used to own a nightclub and restaurant in Los Feliz. So, I pretty much grew up in the industry, although it didn’t really catch my attention until one summer when I spent all my time there in his office. I’d get sodas at the bar and then around closing I’d help clean up.

What was the bar’s name?

Pedro’s Grill on Vermont Avenue, which is now 1739 Public House.

So you got your start watching the show and you thought “I want to do this for a living”?

Yeah, man.

What are some of the funniest, weirdest, most interesting things you’ve seen on the job?

Honestly, the guests. The stories they tell about the day they’ve had. You’re like a therapist in a way. You help answer their questions and you kind of figure some stuff out about yourself that way, stuff you didn’t know. I find that very interesting and a little scary in a way.

I’ve never been a patient person and I realized that when this one man came in who had just divorced his wife. He told me this story about how his family was going on a trip and he just flipped out because his wife was running out of gas and they were five miles away from the nearest gas station. Long story short, I realized I’ve had similar instances in that way.

I’ve never heard of a bartender leaning about themselves through their customers.

I feel like it’s a job where you have to listen. It’s not just “What’ll you have?” It goes beyond that to why are they sitting here and what’s going on in their day. You want someone to hear your story, I’ll listen. You need advice, I’ll give it. If there’s anything particularly crazy you want to try as a drink, I’ll make it.

What is one of your favorite drinks and how do you make it?

I don’t have a particular favorite drink. Every drink I make, I put a lot of thought into it. On our menu, I like the Penicillin.

Penicillin

2 oz Scotch

¾ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Honey

3 to 4 slices muddled ginger

Shake with ice and strain over ice in a rocks glass and then spritz with a spray of Laphroaig Scotch.

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