Few successful hospitality pioneers received their training from the police department. But that’s the path Brandyn Tepper was on before the world of cocktails took hold. Today, he’s partner and founder of LA’s revered Cocktail Academy, responsible for, among other things, the coveted cocktail concoctions found at the newly opened Doheny Room.
How did you get your start in mixology?
I started bartending to make money while I was in the process to become a police officer in Los Angeles/LA County. As the cocktail scene, as well as dining scene in Los Angeles, began to progress, as did my desire to produce a better product in all aspects of bartending. I opened a restaurant in 2012 called Hinoki & The Bird, which went on to win a multitude awards where both the kitchen and the bar were well received. From there, I met my business partner, and we formed a company with the intent of opening a bar. From that process, a high-level catering, marketing, and consulting arm were formed.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you approached crafting the cocktail program for Doheny Room?
When I think of Doheny Room, especially when you step inside of it on a Friday and Saturday night, you can’t help but get the feeling of classic Los Angeles with a modern touch. The drinks, as well as the philosophy behind the program, focuses on classic cocktails and excellent service, but tweaking it to today’s bar guest. For example, I wanted the bartenders to know how to make classic cocktails while pumping out vodka-sodas, eight tequila shots and also be able to talk to guests at the same time. Crafting a menu that would allow for this was both challenging and fun.
Will the menu change as the seasons change?
Of course. If you use strawberries in the fall/winter, you’re an a@#hole. Be aware of what’s in season, because you should only be using the best quality of ingredients you can find to make the best drinks.
What is the inspiration behind the following cocktail names?
• The Tampico Sun: The place where [oil baron] Ed Doheny began oil ops—in Tampico Mexico.
• The Margarita Moreno: A classic margarita named after famed actress Rita Moreno.
Which cocktail is your favorite and why?
The Gentleman Dean. It’s a play on an Old Fashioned, specifically a cocktail called The Talent Scout. It optimizes classic with a modern touch.
Can you share the recipe for it with us?
2.25 oz Rye Whiskey (we use Knob Creek)
0.5 oz Housemade Orange Curacao
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass, add one large piece of ice, stir, and garnish with a lemon twist.