[BETTER KNOW A BARTENDER] The Cat is Never Too Far From the Fiddle
This month we sat down with Akemi Grech, lead bartender at the recently reopened Cat and Fiddle. The famed British pub was forced to shut the doors of its landmark Sunset Boulevard location in December 2015, but reopened last month on Highland Avenue, under the ownership of Ashlee, Camille and Eva Gardner, the daughters of original owners Kim and Paula Gardner.
How’d you become acquainted with the Cat and Fiddle?
I used to work at a place called the Central. You know it now as the Viper Room. A lot of the bartenders at the Cat and Fiddle, at the time, would come to the Central and that’s how I first came to be introduced.
What makes the Cat and Fiddle special?
The Cat and Fiddle isn’t so much the physical place as it is the people and its being a family-run business. I worked for [the owners] for 25 years at the old location and now I’m here. Essentially, we are a Hollywood neighborhood bar and you can sit, relax and be undisturbed if that’s what you want or you can meet people … important in a city that’s as transient as Los Angeles.
It really is a restaurant that’s spanned generations.
You know, I’ve had people come in with their teenage kids and say “You were my bartender at my 21st birthday.” People would come back here on vacation and say “You’re still here?” It’s really great and has become a part of my DNA.
How many people working here now also worked at the old Cat?
I’d say between 15 and 20 people. We’re like a family and that’s what makes this feel so wonderful and comfortable, you know what I mean? The customers, the employees, the owners, we’re all back under one roof.
What’s one of your favorite memories of the Cat and Fiddle?
The funniest was that for the last 10 years my nickname has been “the Godmother.” This bartender, Lorie, came up to me on a Friday night and it was nuts, she tells me this guy said: “I come here all the time and whenever I come here it’s always crazy busy and she’s always behind the bar. She’s always on top of it. She’s the Godmother!” So, all of a sudden, I was the Godmother.
What is one of your favorite cocktails and how do we make it?
Bud Light. Just kidding. This is a creation of mine from the old place called the Mary Poppins. It’s a little different than the one we have on the menu now. The old one was with champagne, lavender syrup and mint and the new one is with Belvedere, rose infused syrup and lemon juice.
Mary Poppins (new style)
1 oz. Belvedere
½ oz. Rose Infused
½ oz. Lemon Juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with a strawberry.