Meet Your Mixologist: Library Bar's Matthew Biancaniello
Don’t even think about ordering a Cosmo or a G & T. Or fear the good-hearted wrath of Matthew Biancaniello, head bartender at Roosevelt Hotel's Library Bar. Welcome to his world - the Garden of Eden for cocktails, where it's sacrilege to settle for anything less than divine drinks.
Joining other top chefs of Los Angeles on Wednesday at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, he sources exotic in-season ingredients, such as finger limes, shiso leaf, and white truffle, to inspire his bespoke bartending, free of passe cocktail standards, artificially flavored mixers and diet soda.
In three short years, the autodidactic mixologist is as much a star of the cocktail world as the ones emblazoned on the sidewalks of Hollywood Blvd. With nearly 3,000 Facebook friends planning their visit based on when he’s there, the zebra-skin bar stools that line the intimate bar are rarely empty.
Expect to see celebrities, Michelin-starred Parisian chefs and even a few dignitaries waiting patiently to imbibe Biancaniello’s whimsy of the day as there isn't a menu. Longtime groupies request his standard creations by name like his favorite, The Last Tango in Modena of gin, aged balsamic vinegar, organic strawberries and St. Germaine infused foam or the The Whole Enchilada with tequila, smoked morita chile, vanilla-infused mezcal, and muddled passion fruit or the Roquette, an arugula muddled gimlet.
Not to fret if you don’t speak the liquid lingo yet. Many first-timers’ eyes glaze over in confusion when Biancaniello tells them he doesn’t make their ‘tired’ and true drink of choice. But once he’s asked a few questions — what spirit you prefer and whether you like sweet, savory or spicy — the game has begun and he has converted yet another palate to elevated drinking within the first sip.
It’s easy to make new drinking pals when Biancaniello’s behind the bar – his friendly demeanor and eagerness to please your palate with his custom-made concoctions draws even the most socially inept personality out to play. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself straw-tasting a complete stranger’s drink and vice versa.
In fact, the term mixologist doesn’t do Biancaniello justice. He’s more like a ‘spirit’ evangelist or passionate cocktail crusader, challenging the stodgy bar standards with bacon-infused bourbon Manhattans and borage-sprinkled Margaritas.
Much like a sushi chef’s omakase, best to leave your ego at the door when entering the holy grounds of Biancaniello’s lair. Lend him your trust and he’ll lead the way to an enlightening and entertaining education behind the artistry of a cocktail.
Can't make it to check out his mad bar skills in person? Watch Matthew Biancaniello in action this October on the third episode of the Cooking Channel's Extra Virgin.
Library Bar, 7000 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028.