“I love unusual ingredients. The basis behind all the cocktails I make is that I want there to be some kind of story behind each one. I think of a name and then do a cocktail around that. For one, there’s When I Was 10 I Went to School As a Dead Cheerleader for Halloween. That’s based on a true story. My mom actually made the costume for me. I went to school and got sent home because it was deemed inappropriate. Too violent, I guess. She made a butcher knife out of cardboard and taped it to my back. Might have been a little too bloody for a third grader… So that’s a weird cocktail—spicy and weird. I used curry syrup with a butternut squash–infused rum. I wasn’t really sure if anyone was going to go for it, but it turned out to be one of our most popular cocktails here. I run the bar program and my partner does the other half; he does all the cooking and important sandwich stuff.
I picked Randy Newman for this cocktail. He’s a wonderful storyteller and I find his songs hilarious. Somewhat offensive, and extremely ironic, which is something I enjoy. He writes about a bunch of weirdos, and that’s kind of my style. He does have a local connection; he grew up here. He was raised mostly in Los Angeles, but here too, until he was 11, I believe.
Thinking about a cocktail for him, I knew it had to look or sound somewhat offensive—but also be delicious and wonderful. And since he has the Toy Story and Pixar connection, I started with Welch’s Grape Juice, and made a shrub out of that. The base liquor is Cynar, with fresh dill and topped with beer. The name, Drop the Big One, is based on ‘Political Science,’ one of my favorite songs and quite timely now with all of the political unrest that’s going on.
These [peach rings] candies are one of my childhood favorites, so I decided to use them for a garnish. I remember watching Toy Story as a child, so this is nostalgia. Randy Newman did all of the music for Toy Story and it was probably my favorite movie growing up.”