Mixologist Giovanni Martinez wants bar patrons to think beyond the usual rum and vodka cocktails. As the director of the spirits program at Sadie in Hollywood, California, Martinez gets excited when chatting about the versatility of one of his favorite spirits: scotch whiskey.
“I like the challenge of introducing people to something new,” says Martinez, who describes Sadie as a “relaxed lounge and bar with a Prohibition speakeasy feel.” While he loves a good tequila (after all, the Los Angeles native is proud of his Mexican heritage), he prides himself on creating innovative cocktails with less popular spirits like cognac, whiskey, scotch and gin.
“I got started so long ago,” laughs Martinez, who got into the business thanks to a friend who catered events for large corporations. Martinez would whip up gallons of cocktails at a time, and loving the experience, began working behind the bar at The Buffalo Club in Santa Monica. His passion for cocktails and mixology lead Martinez to travels in abroad (“the cocktail scene in London really inspired me to take what I was doing to the net level”) and back in Los Angeles, Martinez worked at several bars before concentrating on vintage cocktails at Sadie.“I’m really inspired by classic, almost ancient style of making cocktails that’s really rooted in spirits and flavors,” explains the 33-year-old. “I’m rooted in the tradition of honoring the product and love sharing that with people.”
And his “Combination” cocktail will persuade you of that. Perfect for sipping during the chill of winter, his “Combination” – named for the mutual understanding that politicians, police and mob had as they ran Los Angeles during the 1920s – is a blended Scotch whiskey cocktail made with Chivas Regal, sweet vermouth, rich pear syrup and toasted pecan bitters. It’s a classic cocktail with a twist, a description that embodies Martinez’s style.
2oz Chivas 12
1 oz Carpano Antica
1/2 oz pear syrup
2 dashes of pecan bitters
Pear syrup: Add one ripe pear to 1/2 cup sugar combined with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, cool and puree.
Preparation: Add all the ingredients to a shaker with crushed ice and strain in a stemmed cocktail glass with an orange peel for garniture.