Matthew Biancaniello, the Hollywood Roosevelt’s libation maestro makes drinks that are good for you. Really. Enter his Library.
Matthew Biancaniello, a master of mixology at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Library Bar, is all about being fresh. Ever had an Heirloom Tomato Mojito? A Lemon Verbena-Raspberry Daiquiri? An Arugula Gimlet?
Working sans a cocktail menu list, Biancaniello’s creations take their cues from seasonal ingredients. And, like a master chef, he makes the most unlikely combinations taste sublime. On top of his roasted pepper-infused and prosciutto-flavored liquors, Biancaniello dries and candies organic fruits to use as garnishes. Edible art, indeed.
The former ad executive for Time Out New York only began making drinks three years ago. Self-taught-ironic in that he works in the Library Bar–he scrutinized cocktail books to learn the basics, and when his wife gave him Dale DeGroff’s “The Essential Cocktail,” he began to view mixing cocktails as less of a craft than an art.
EXPOSURE: Library Bar Ingredients
Biancaniello invested his own time (and money) to revamp the tony Library Bar, tossing sour mixes in favor of homemade syrups, and assuaging bottled garnishes for local produce he shops for weekly in the L.A. area’s many farmer’s markets.
It has paid off: Last year, Biancaniello won the coveted Chartreuse Sweet 16 Competition, and recently he placed nationally in the 42 Below World Cup.
Here, we saddled up to the bar and asked him some more personal questions about his vocation, and its followers:
Room 100: Who are more challenging customers: blondes or brunettes?
Brunettes and blondes both expect the drinks to be free. They are not.
Is the “Sex and the City” holdout, the “Cosmo,” still popular with the ladies?
I have a new Cosmo variation. It’s a violet grappa mojito, double-strained, and called the Krisomou, which means “the golden one,” in Greek.
What’s the typical guy’s limit?
Three to four drinks, before I really start to watch how a guy is behaving.
Do better-dressed customers tip better?
Better-dressed people do not tip better. It’s usually the reverse.
What’s your favorite place to go drink after work?
The bar at Providence. The drinks are incredible. [Bartender] Zahra is so sweet, and has an amazing technique, as well as attention to detail.
What’s your favorite cocktails?
My favorite, which I make, is called The Last Tango in Modena: strawberries, 25-year-old balsamic, and gin, with a Saint Germain foam. I also like The Roquette, which is gin, lime agave, and wild arugula. My favorite at-home drink is Cynar, on the rocks, sometimes with a lemon.
What drink should be rendered extinct?
The Apple Martini. It should be banned and erased from everyone’s memory bank.
Are customers drinking more or less since the economy slag?
They’re drinking more, definitely.