Behind the Bartender: Gabriella Mlynarczyk of Birch

Where she gets her inspiration and what she’s drinking when she’s not at work

Even though Birch’s Gabriella Mlynarczyk doesn’t seek out the limelight, she’s a standout, garnering plenty of attention thanks to her culinary-inspired cocktails. Having worked at restaurant bars like Ink, Cadet, and now Birch, Mlynarczyk doesn’t just use ingredients available in the kitchen—she calls it her pantry—but the technology and gadgets as well.

At Michael Voltaggio’s Ink, where she really shined, we got to enjoy chartreuse pixie dust and a rapid barrel-aged Negroni, both courtesy of a dehydrator and immersion circulator. Now, at Birch, she finds inspiration from chef Brendan Collins’ dishes playing with food elements in her cocktails like finger lime caviar floating on a leaf, or a crostini with honey and brandied cherry for garnish. Suffice it to say her cocktails are some of my favorite to Instagram. Speaking of cocktail porn, if you really want to nerd out about all things drink, check out her blog, LA Loving Cup, which not only has amazing cocktail photography but her recipes for you to try at home.

I had a chance to ask her some questions as part of our recurring Q&A series with L.A. bartenders. Here are her quick answers.

What’s a popular drink at your bar?
The #9 is a current big hit: pisco, nigori sake, calpico, and absinthe.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I get inspired by either a story or an ingredient, I could spend hours discovering things at Mitsuwa market or El Camaguey. They have amazing collections of international produce. A good book or film will also spark ideas. Currently working on a My Fair Lady theme with Cockney-rhyming slang-inspired drinks.

What’s the best night to go to your bar and why?
Any weeknight you will get more personal attention and one-on-one time with one of us bartenders. We are also usually tinkering with new ideas that we like guests to sample and give feedback on.

The next big thing in cocktails is_____?
I see a few bars starting to focus on a theme rather than on a season. Pouring Ribbons [in New York] is doing a Route 66 menu and the Walker Inn just did a Big Sur inspired list. Another thing I think will be big is having small bites that coordinate with and enhance a drink. Our #8 has a sliver of toast and marmalade to bring out the caraway flavors in the whiskey, or candied cranberries for our Cosmopolitan-inspired drink.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I wish I could put spells on people to stop them from fighting, being evil, and make them have more compassion. Too much hunger, sadness, and anger in this world. I’d also like to put a confundus charm on Donald Trump and the GOP.

Where do you like to drink in L.A.?
When I get a chance, which is rare, I like to grab a Negroni or amaro at Sotto with my favorite bartender Una Green. Though I think she’s recently de-camped to Belcampo. Or I’ll get a mezcal margarita at Casablanca in Venice or a pint of beer at Venice Ale House.

Where’s your favorite place to eat in L.A.?
So many choices these days, Birch ( I’m biased). Cassia, Ink, BS Taqueria. Cholada Thai on PCH has been my solid go to for 15 years.

What do you like to drink when you’re not working (doesn’t have to be cocktails)?
Amaro, vermouth on the rocks, shandy, rose cremant, whisky on special occasions.

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