Christine Wiseman has never produced a menu that didn’t call on edible glitter. “Literally every menu, without fail,” she says.
As the Bar Manager at the Broken Shaker’s Los Angeles outpost, Wiseman has made a name for herself with her penchant for drinks that are as over-the-top as she is. Designed for the tropical-leaning rooftop bar, they are, at their core, lighthearted and easy-drinking, but that doesn’t mean they lack complexity. “I think that first you drink with your eyes,” says Wiseman of her tendency to playfully adorn every drink she sends out. But beneath the crowns of flowers, glitter and neon swizzle sticks are layered compositions that evolve as they’re enjoyed.
Consider her O-Fish-Ally Open. Calling on the citrus-rich bounty of Southern California, Wiseman pairs a cordial comprised of blood orange, Meyer lemon and oroblanco with a miso tincture, alongside a mix of gin, bianco vermouth and absinthe, all topped with shredded nori. As the crushed ice melts, the nori integrates into the mixture, highlighting the drink’s subtle umami profile.
Taken together, her cocktails represent a seamless marriage of disparate influences—California produce, Thai cuisine, wellness—and an unselfconscious attention to appearances. It’s a combination that is the perfect reflection of the city she’s called home for the last seven years. “I’ve only ever made drinks in LA,” says Wiseman. “I don’t know what my style would look like anywhere else.”
A West Virginia native, Wiseman began her career in hospitality in nearby Washington, D.C. Shortly after it opened in 2011, she talked her way into a job at Virtue Feed & Grain, then under the purview of Todd Thrasher, now the proprietor of Potomac Distilling Company and Tiki TNT. “People were making Old-Fashioneds and Sazeracs—I’d never even heard of those,” remembers Wiseman. Not long after, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a server at chef Michael Voltaggio’s now-shuttered Ink, filling in behind the bar alongside Gaby Mlynarczyk, who went on to become the beverage director of Accomplice and the author of Clean & Dirty Drinking.
Wiseman has carried a taste for bold flavor pairings through to her original creations at the irreverent, ’80s-themed Break Room 86 (where she ran the cocktail program for two years) and into her current role at Broken Shaker. Ingredients like “papaya salad” cordial, aloe liqueur and nopales come together in a single drink, while curry, turmeric and coconut harmonize in another. “There are certain things that may not work together in a cocktail,” she says. “I kind of find ways around that to make funky flavors happen.”
Here, get to know Christine Wiseman in four cocktails.
Inspired by the papaya salads regularly served in her Thai Town neighborhood, Wiseman brings the brightness of the dish into a classic Daiquiri formula by way of a cordial comprised of Thai chilies, fish sauce, tomato water, sugar, lime juice, papaya and more. “This one took awhile for me to get right,” she admits, “but I needed to get the fish sauce just right because it is such a bold flavor, I didn’t want it to dominate the drink.”
Created for the first Broken Shaker menu in Los Angeles, in 2017, There is No Eastside nods to the Chicago-born cocktail, the Southside, both in concept and in name (there is, she notes, no Eastside in Chicago). Swapping the expected gin for mezcal and bolstering the mint—presented here in syrup form—with cucumber juice and zhoug (an herbal Yemeni hot sauce), is Wiseman’s subtle nod to “LA’s obsession with fresh-pressed juices,” she says.
“This cocktail was inspired by the beautiful citrus we have in California,” says Wiseman, who incorporates blood orange, Meyer lemon and oroblanco into this recipe. “I really wanted to showcase these items that I had fallen in love with at the market from one of my favorite farms.” Originally a straightforward mixture of gin, bianco vermouth, absinthe and citrus, Wiseman added miso tincture after a visit to Little Tokyo, “to give it some funk.”
“This is a cocktail where I get to poke a bit of fun at my most amazing city and its juice and wellness craze,” says Wiseman of the coconut water and curry-turmeric-infused cocktail. Tequila forms the base of the crushed-ice drink, complemented by passion fruit liqueur and lime juice. “People go crazy over it.”