[BETTER KNOW A BARTENDER] Stark Bar’s Evan Charest
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 Evan Charest, beverage director at Ray’s and Stark Bar at LACMA, to discuss his career and favorite drink.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Portland, Maine.
What brought you to L.A.?
I went to school in Cincinnati and wanted to escape the east coast and cold and it seemed more logical to keep heading west. I knew a few people whose family were in SoCal, so I decided to come out.
How long have you been bartending?
Probably about ten years from college on. I bartended in Cincinnati and in Northern Kentucky and then I moved out here. I was doing some production work in entertainment and doing bartending and bar managing on the side and then it turned into a career.
How’d you get into bartending?
In college it was a good way to pay the bills. I worked for an event center in Northern Kentucky doing weddings and high volume stuff. Not the most craft things ever, but it evolved into that kind of niche.
What are some of the funniest, weirdest, most interesting things you’ve seen on the job?
There were some horrifying wedding stories. I did hundreds of weddings in college. There was a large wedding that they designed as Disney princess themed. This very angry, intense woman was the Disney princess and she got drunk just right off the bat. I don’t know how, maybe she showed up drunk for all I know. She started accosting staff members, saying “You’re ruining my day.” This was a 32-year old woman dressed like a Disney princess. She was accusing me of getting all her family members drunk while she was blitzed on Long Island Ice Teas. Dark days of my career.
And this was right after the ceremony?
Straight up. Super heavy southern accent too, so everything you can imagine was true. There are a lot more boring stories, but that’s definitely the craziest.
What’s one of your favorite drinks and what do you like about it?
I’m a huge mezcal person and I have one here at Ray’s that’s mezcal, a little bit of Campari and lime juice called Oaxaca Meets Italy. It’s pretty much a mezcal up Margarita with Campari. It’s a perfect summer drink with a great color and a little bitter, but not too much. Plus it matches the red of the Stark Bar area. The other one I was thinking of is a twist on the Aviation, called a Levitation, inspired by Levitated Mass. It’s a classic Aviation, but with mezcal and we made it spicy. I try to keep a lot of the drinks based on exhibits at LACMA.
Oaxaca Meets Italy
1 ½ oz Mezcal
½ oz Campari
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a coup, garnish with a lime wedge.
1 oz Gin
½ oz Mezcal
½ oz Maraschino Liqueur
¾ oz Lime Juice
1 Muddled Jalapeno
Shake with ice and double strain (to make sure you don’t get any jalapeno seeds in the drink) into a rocks glass.