Famous, good-looking, and famously good-looking folks fill the sunlit dining room and patio of Hinoki & the Bird, a breezily chic bar and restaurant in Los Angeles’s Century City. Chef Brandon Kida’s Asian-inspired, globetrotting menu is (rightfully) equally renowned, with Santa Barbara spot prawns and a legacy lobster roll with Thai green curry at mealtimes, and tonkatsu-sauced okonomiyaki burgers during the destination-worthy happy hour.
Taking the reigns for the latter is bar manager Gregory Westcott, who joined Hinoki & the Bird in 2015. Westcott spikes his Miyagi Mule with lemongrass- and ginger-infused vodka, and pairs tequila with cucumber, lime, and Fresno chili. It’s a dangerously crushable combination.
We caught up with Westcott to hear what cocktail he’d bring to a desert island, and what he’d rather you didn’t tell him about that bottle of Japanese whisky on his shelf.
1. What’s your desert-island cocktail?
Sazerac. It’s such a delicate and beautiful cocktail. I don’t know how I feel about drinking it out of coconut shells but I’m willing to give it a try.
2. What’s the first drink you bought when you turned 21?
It was either a King Cobra 40-ounce, which I didn’t even get carded for, or a Prairie Fire shot at Chili’s, which is tequila and Tabasco sauce. I can still taste it coming back up when I close my eyes at night.
3. FMK three cocktails: Margarita, Negroni, Manhattan.
Kill: Negroni because I feel like it has lived a long life and we might be ready for the next one.
Marry: Manhattan because it will always be there when I crawl in bed at night.
Fuck: Margarita because she’s sexy and you never know what’s going to happen next.
4. You’re on death row. What’s your final drink?
Bowmore 25-year Single Malt. Every sip is like you’re rummaging through your grandparents’ closet; tobacco, leather, mahogany.
5. You can only drink at one bar for the rest of your life. What bar is it, and why?
Wilson & Wilson at Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco. It’s slightly a pain to get into but the spirit selection is beyond anywhere else. The service is memorable and the cocktails make me question my own talent.
6. What’s the best and worst bottle on your shelf?
Best bottle on my shelf is Mars Maltage 3 Plus 25, 28-year Japanese whisky. It’s a rare and special whisky. I heard that there are only like 18 bottles in California. They could have been lying, but don’t ruin that fact for me.
Worst bottle is Cruzan Black Strap. I’ve been trying to rid myself of it for two years now but I think the bottle refills itself at night.
7. What drink will you never order again?
Never say never… But I’ve owed Irish Car Bombs a punch in the face since 2003.