Daniel K. Nelson and Steve Livigni don’t eat their way through cities, they drink their way through them. The two hosts of Hungry Channel’s cocktail focused show – Drink Inc. – dominate the world of everything dapper. Two of LA’s top bar guys, they make their way around the city finding inspiration in everything and anything drink-centric. We chatted with the two on restaurants, food and of course, all things sip-able…
STEVE LIVIGNI: THE EPICUREAN’S QUESTIONNAIRE
Describe your ideal food day…
What’s your drink?
A Gin Gibson or Whiskey neat.
What would your last meal be? What drinks would you pair with it?
I ate at this restaurant in Paris called Pain, Vin, Fromages. It’s an all cheese and charcuterie restaurant where you eat underground in a cave. It was twelve courses of cheese plus charcuterie, bread and tons of wine. I’d like to go back there with my closest friends and commit cheese suicide together. A martini to start, lots of wine, some Islay Scotch (to pair with the smokier cheeses like Gouda), sherry to finish the meal and a cognac to sip on last.
How do you start your day?
My girlfriend wakes me up at 7am to say goodbye; the dogs re-wake me up around 8am and I spend some time with them. Then, at least an hour on the laptop checking emails, eBay, LA Times, YouTube and Surfline. It’s nice to be awake and not have to talk to anyone for a few hours.
The farthest you’ve travelled for a drink…
South Korea. I did some work with the world’s highest selling spirit brand, Jinro, and they flew me out to check out the process. I spent five days getting blacked out with factory workers and executives.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Other cities. Portland, Mexico City and San Francisco.
What ingredient are you convinced always makes a drink better?
St. Vincent’s Orgeat Syrup pretty much makes anything taste delicious. Crème de Cacao too.
What ingredient is overrated?
House-made ingredients. Just because you can source the right ingredients doesn’t mean you have the skill to make them taste right. Trust the experts.
What’s always in your fridge?
Salami, coconut water, pickles and champagne
Favorite night of the week, and why?
Sunday because most people stay home that night. None of the binge drinkers are out and the people who are seem to understand that everyone’s gonna keep it cool.
What’s not a trend in cocktails yet that should be?
More agave-based cocktails. Most people can make one or two, but I want to drink something else besides Tequila Manhattans, Palomas and Mezcal Margaritas.
What are your vices?
Drinking, smoking and dress shoes
If you could create a cocktail that represents you, what would be in it?
Something dark and stirred. Cognac, whiskey, vermouth, bitters, Amaro – things like that.
When it comes to cocktails, is there such a thing as “too strong?”
Sure; cocktails require balance. If something you are using is too high-proof, or you are making a stirred cocktail with all spirits, things can sometimes taste a little too “boozy”. I personally like to taste the booze, but most people are ordering cocktails because they like things watered down a bit.
Take me through a typical night…
If I’m working it starts early: tidying up the bar, printing menus, making sure we aren’t out of anything, opening the doors, saying hi to lots of people, picking up glasses, tweaking lights and sound constantly, making sure people don’t kill themselves, cleaning up, going home, having a whiskey and hanging with my dog Linus for a bit. I hit the sack around 3:30am.
The bar that never goes out of style…
If you could pick one person, living or dead, to create a cocktail for, who would it be?
Dean Martin. You know it would get a lot of use.