Bar Jackalope’s Linh Do, featured in Los Angeles magazine’s February issue, is an unusual whiskey enthusiast on every level. Not only was she not a drinker when she first fell in love with scotch, but she actually left her job as a social worker to become a “spirits specialist” at booze destination Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa. And then she ran away to Scotland for a couple of months, foregoing most meals to pay for distillery tours.
Her parents, whom she lives with, don’t even know that she’s been working at Seven Grand’s Bar Jackalope as a bartender for the past two years. She hides whiskey bottles from them in her room like teenage boys hide porn.
But where she really stands out from most other whiskey enthusiasts is her expression of her liquor love—she designs and sews her own scotch-themed dresses. For the past year and a half she’s made 10 dresses inspired by Ardbeg, Aaran, The Balvenie, Bruichladdich, Glenfarclas, Glengrant, Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Kilchoman, and Laphroiag.
Don’t look for Do’s work on Etsy, however, as she’ll never put them up for sale. Each dress design is very personal and not suited for public consumption. “Each dress is a combination of the whiskey, my experience with the whiskey like the people who represent the brand, and what the brand means to me,” she says.
Plus, according to Do, her sewing skills are not up to par. She double majored in English literature and creative writing at Cal State Long Beach, not fashion. She has been sewing for years making dresses and handbags for herself but has only taken one sewing class.
And it shows in her work: the cap sleeves of first dress, modeled after peaty Laphroiag, aren’t hemmed and the back split of her Glenmorangie dress is a bit uneven. A majority of the dresses are made out of thick upholstery fabric as Do, who self-identifies sensitive and shy, likes the idea of the dress as a thick shell. Only her Balvenie dress has a lining. “I feel proud. That’s my first lining. The other ones are raw.”
But her paintings on a few of the dresses, like the Glengrant logo of barrel and Scotsmen and the scrolls of the Glenmorangie logo, are breathtaking. And those handstitched depictions of the Aaran distillery and The Balvenie logo and barrel are crazy impressive, especially considering she’s an amateur.
Do spends her free time either making dresses or drawing. “Usually when I’m done with a dress I start another one. But I go in breaks where I’ll do it intensely and then I’ll draw,” she says. “I’m constantly drawing or sewing, and not socializing.” Right now she’s planning on a Hibiki dress and a Macallan one after that.
Although you won’t be able to buy Do’s dresses now, she says she’s not opposed to the idea of a company commissioning her for a design and handling the sewing itself. But for those who don’t want to wait too long to see the dresses in person, drop in at Bar Jackalope where Do wears them, making your whiskey experience all the more special.
Bar Jackalope in Seven Grand, 515 W 7th Street, Downtown, 213-614-0736. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.