When I first met bartender Matthew Biancaniello at Hollywood Roosevelt’s Library Bar in 2009 behind a forest of farmers market produce, he was still an undiscovered talent, a former actor/self-taught barman who was doing fun things with mists and foams as well as infusing spirits, back when bacon-infused bourbon was still “oooh, exotic.” Matt left LB in November last year and since then, he’s wiled the time away with consulting gigs, cocktail seminars, boozy ice cream pop-ups at Scoops Westside, shopping around a TV show and possibly, maybe working on his own bar. If you missed him during his literal and figurative salad days at Library Bar, not to fret as he works at Bar and Kitchen downtown on Sundays as well as at Cliff’s Edge on Wednesdays, supplementing his creative cocktails with not just farmers market finds but with foraged ones. You can also get schooled by him at his upcoming “Wine Mixology” classes next week at K&L Wines.
Lucky for us, Matt took time away from his regular farmers market shopping to answer some quick questions, as part of our recurring Q&A series with L.A. bartenders. Here are his very succinct answers.
What’s a popular drink at your bar?
Most popular drink is the “Sour Dock” with wood sorrel, rum lime, agave and white truffle salt. Two nights I made with wild toyon-infused cachaca and one with wild fig leaf-infused cachaca and both were fantastic.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My biggest inspiration is from Pascal Baudar and Mia Wasilevich who have taught me so much about foraging. The aromatics are so strong in the wild and I am finding some incredible new flavors. When the wild currants are available in a couple of weeks, I am going to make my own cassis.
What’s the best night to go to your bar and why?
Wednesday because it is the only night I work there and I have been expanding my flavors and herbs, the atmosphere is incredible at Cliff’s Edge and also Thursday nights are great because it’s oyster night and you can get oysters for a dollar.
What’s your hidden talent?
That I was never trained, so I’m constantly a sponge.
Where do you like to drink in LA?
What do you like to drink when you’re not working (doesn’t have to be cocktails)? I am really into drinking this homemade bergamot-cello that someone gave me, out of this world.
The next big thing in cocktails is_____?