A co-founder of Proprietors LLC, a Los Angeles-based bar consulting firm, Alex Day has had a hand in creating some of the country’s best watering holes. Aside from their long list of venues—which includes Death & Co., Honeycut and Nitecap (with Natasha David)—Day and Proprietors LLC co-founder, David Kaplan, are also the minds behind a boundary-pushing West Coast cocktail lab, Chapter & Verse, which is outfitted like something from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
But despite Day’s knack for experimentation at Chapter & Verse—where he employs an immersion circulator, a dehydrator, a smoking gun and a centrifuge in the creation of new drink concepts—you’ll be hard-pressed to find such gadgetry on display at one of his bars. As he told Jennifer Cacicio for PUNCH, step into a bar like Death & Co., and “you will never be confronted with anything less than human contact.”
So what does Day do when he’s not, say, smoking his own almond milk for his twist on a Ramos Gin Fizz? Here, he tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share his strangest cocktail experiment, his go-to hangover recovery regime and the one thing he wishes would disappear from drink lists forever.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Best thing you ever drank:
La Gitana Pastrana manzanilla sherry in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, pulled from the cask by the legendary Javier Hidalgo.
Worst thing you ever drank:
Monster Energy Drink.
First time you ever got drunk:
Orange juice and Everclear, somewhere around 14 years old. When parents go out of town and entrust your older brothers to look after you, ain’t nothing like the trickle-down benefits of high school parties.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jason Isbell, Southeastern.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I’ve been regularly throwing myself out of planes for last half-decade. Friends, family and colleagues are all sick of hearing me talk about my love for skydiving.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
That the smartest people always listen first.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
There was a salad dressing in the centrifuge experiment once… not cute.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Exploring new cities with my fiancé.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
Red Bull and Fernet. Portland, amiright?!
Your favorite bar:
Attaboy. Because, duh.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Tasting menu at Blue Hill Stone Barns. Everything about that place is wonderful and perfect.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
If I know someone that works there, one cocktail from the menu to be polite, followed by a Negroni. If I don’t know someone, a Negroni.
White Burgundy if you’re paying. Txakoli if you’re not.
Bourbon and soda in winter; gin and soda in summer. Cheeky shots of blanco tequila between courses, please.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Bottomless supply of coffee, a walk around the ‘hood, self-reflection (do I need to send any apologetic texts?), a massage, spicy Thai food and crisp white wine. Or skip it all and just have one of Devon Tarby’s Bloody Marys—works every time.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
It’s probably because I don’t have the attention span, but nothing gets me to shut a menu and order a beer like flowery prose. Please, please, please stop trying so hard.
The last text message you sent:
“7k for three bartenders? screw the catering racket! I’m gonna fill a van up with booze and glassware and bartenders in NYC and drive up to Vermont myself.”