Dan Rook wants Hollywood to drink better. A Chicago transplant who cut his teeth at Irish pubs, Rook opened Ever Bar near the Capitol Records building in summer 2017.
What differentiates Ever Bar from a crowded market of hushed, hidden, and precious cocktail lounges is accessibility. The list is simultaneously cerebral and approachable, spanning classics and creative iterations, like a G&T riff made with Botonist Gin and beet shrub. There’s also a section devoted to sophisticated reconstructions of such oft-maligned drinks as the Espresso Martini, Lemon Drop, and (wait for it) a remarkably nuanced, savory Cosmopolitan.
Named “Bartender of the Year” by Chicago’s Redeye in 2015, Rook is also a certified cicerone. We caught up with him in his new digs to discuss life in Hollywood, his longstanding love for Guinness, and what he really thinks about “skinny spicy” Margaritas.
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1. What’s your desert-island cocktail?
If I’m stuck on an actual island I’d like something bright and refreshing — so likely a proper Daiquiri with fresh lime, cane syrup, and Plantation Pineapple Rum. If I had to choose one drink to drink for the rest of ever it would be a pint of Guinness.
2. What’s the first drink you bought when you turned 21?
I honestly, shockingly, don’t remember. It was likely a pint of Guinness. I worked at an Irish pub for many years during my youth, so my first proper pint was definitely before turning 21.
3. FMK three cocktails: Margarita, Negroni, Manhattan.
Fuck the Manhattan, Marry the Negroni, and Kill the Margarita — the “spicy” Margarita in particular, mainly because I feel like that’s every other cocktail request I get from guests in L.A. I would take extra-special time murdering the “skinny spicy” Margarita as well.
4. You’re on death row. What’s your final drink?
I’d probably keep it simple and go with my usual shift drink: a pint of Guinness and a shot of Malort (if in Chicago) or a neat pour of bourbon for nostalgia’s sake.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What bar is it, and why?
Miller’s Pub in Chicago. Miller’s was one of my favorite post-shift hangouts back in Chicago (it’s open until 4:00 a.m.). It’s the quintessential Chicago pub, with a fantastic beer selection, solid food, and two Chicago bartending legends — Beaker and Tony — behind the stick. Those guys get it. They can make a proper cocktail without the side of pretension that often goes along with it but will just as happily pour you a pint, crack a joke, and let you bend their ear when needed.
6. What’s the best and worst bottle on your shelf?
I’m hiding a bottle of St. George B & E from myself. I don’t know if it’s the BEST bottle I have, but it’s definitely my favorite. That whiskey is out of production and will likely never be made again. St. George is probably my favorite distillery in the country, so to have an unopened bottle of B & E is pretty cool. Worst: A bottle of Horchata vodka has been chilling in my freezer for months. Don’t ask.
7. What drink will you never order again?
A complicated cocktail when a bartender is slammed. I believe in karma. I’ll take a shot and a beer, over-tip, and then come back for brown-and-bitter dealer’s choice later.