Back in 2005—when mobile phones were used solely for two-way communication and MySpace was the hot social sharing site—blogging was still in its nascent form. On August 2, I wrote about Beverly Hills Hotel’s Soda Fountain Shoppe. It was my first ever blog post on Caroline on Crack and was made up of 24 of my own words plus a huge chunk of a review I had cut and pasted from another site.
My blog was devoid of opinions and details about my personal life because, well—who would care? I wasn’t a professional writer or reviewer; I just wanted to keep track of fun things to do in L.A. It was only after one of my early commenters told me I should start opening up that I decided to write my reviews like I was talking to a friend. I found my voice, telling it like it is.
In 2006 publicists started to realize what they could gain by offering bloggers a freebie meal and, funny enough, Yelp arrived in L.A. More would-be writers saw the blog as the perfect platform to get exposure for their work as well as share their opinions, hopefully parlaying that into a money-making endeavor with ad sales.
Meanwhile, the cocktail scene in the city was comprised of “martini bars” and nightclubs.
In 2007 whiskey bar Seven Grand opened in Downtown L.A. heralding the arrival of the cocktail renaissance which had already started in New York. At this point I was coincidentally weaning myself off those sticky-sweet ‘tini cocktails and getting into whiskey. Seven Grand became my go-to bar and my blog focus shifted toward covering the bar scene.
From then to now I’ve tracked the cocktail trends in L.A. from classics to farmers market fresh, documented the openings and closings of countless hot spots, and witnessed the rise of bartenders like Vincenzo Marianella, Julian Cox and Matthew Biancaniello. And the crazy thing is that my Caroline on Crack blog—a hobby that I thought for sure I’d grow bored with in a year—has gone on to win awards like LA Weekly‘s Blog Post of the Year and has afforded me opportunities like a weekly segment on Carson Daly’s morning radio show and this writing gig at Los Angeles Magazine.
I feel like an old-timer reflecting on 10 years of cocktail blogging in Los Angeles. Remarking on how far the cocktails have come while personal blogging itself, which had reached a zenith in 2009, seems to be fading out making way for more spontaneous sharing platforms like Periscope and Snapchat. “Back in my day, we didn’t have cameras in our phones!”
Alas, we look at the top 5 moments from a decade of drinking on the internet.
My first Penicillin cocktail: Bartender Damian Windsor first made me a Penicillin—New York barman Sam Ross’ creation—at Seven Grand in 2007. I remember telling Damian that it tasted like a Band-Aid. With a sweet tooth for the cloying cocktails during that time, I was not a fan. Of course that’s all changed now.
Riding the Goodyear Blimp: This was something I never thought I’d be able to cross off on my L.A. bucket list post aka “100 Things” since you have to know someone at Goodyear to snag a seat. Fortunately I was invited to hitch a ride courtesy of ABC 7’s “Eye on LA” TV show.
Getting banned from Seven Grand: At first I was pissed off that Cedd Moses banned me from my favorite bar for writing about his private club The Doheny (where Cana Rum Bar is now). But now it’s become a sort of badge of honor. Moses and I made amends a couple of years ago…until I got in trouble again last year for writing about Cana’s bar program. Oof!
Blogger barhops: Every year barman and booze ambassador Aidan Demarest (who I’ve known since he helped open Seven Grand) and I do this blogger barhop where we have a tight guest list of cocktail bloggers. We always have a liquor sponsor and a set a barhop route. In five years we’ve done hops covering hotel bars, Beverly Hills bars, a trolley of death, and bars down in the Valley.
Winning the LA Weekly award for Blog Post of the Year in 2009: I was really proud of my post “100 Things To Try in LA Before You Die” so getting that accolade from LA Weekly really made my decade.