The Neat Bar: Aidan Demarest’s Deconstructed Cocktail Bar
Aidan Demarest is to the Los Angeles bar scene what Thomas Edison was to electricity. He’s launched and developed cocktail menus and bar concepts for Seven Grand, The Edison, First & Hope, Roosevelt Hotel’s The Spare Room, The Raymond Hotel’s 1886, among others.
Finally he’s branched out on his own — way out in fact — in Glendale of all places to open his very own bar. And it’s Neat — literally and figuratively.
What was a local Moroccan beer bar called Sidebar, within three weeks, has been transformed into Los Angeles’ newest go-to spot for the next wave of cocktail evolution – the deconstructed drink.
Don’t expect a highly engineered concept in the way of interior design or cocktail menus. Aidan Demarest’s Neat Bar has stripped away all the fuss (and expense of themed cocktail bars) and invested in rare spirits and quality mixers.
Gleaming from behind the bar, Demarest’s babies, as he affectionately refers to them, are proudly on display — over 250 exotic or small-production liquors to choose from. This colorful shrine to the spirit gods offers enticing liquors not readily available at other LA bars like Diplomatico Rum or High West Distillery Manhattan-infused Whiskey made in Park City, Utah.
Handmade mixers, served on the side, range from grenadine to egg-white based sours to gourmet sodas like Fentiman’s botanically brewed beverages.
Head bartender Arash Pakzad, with the patience of a pre-school teacher, educates imbibers one by one in the two-part ordering process at Neat Bar.
First, “Pick Your Poison” (the only quasi drink menu in the house). Sampling is encouraged before you settle on one as a part of the libation education quest at Neat Bar.
A clever wooden tray of two indented circles — one a smaller circle and one larger — gets set on the bar. The first circle gets filled with a glass of your choice of spirit, naturally, served neat.
Next, Pakzad inquires about your preferred mixer - soda, citrus or sweet. Served with Kold-Draft ice, the second circle is filled with a mixer and topped with a garnish if needed. The rest is up to you. Drink it separately or mix it up.
Neat Bar’s minimalist delivery allows you to participate in the creation of your cocktail.
Aidan Demarest also allows other bartenders from some of L.A.’s best cocktail bars to contribute as well. Every week a well-known mixologist like Matthew Biancaniello, Kristina Howald, or Mia Sazaran (to name drop a few possibilities), will moonlight at The Neat Bar for those that just want a snazzy cocktail – "retro" style (premixed). Upcoming guest bartenders posted on Neat Bar's Facebook page.
Most nights, Demarest, minus the corporate getup, in jeans and t-shirt, happily chats up Neat Bar patrons — a mix of neighborhood locals, hipsters and longtime industry friends — from behind his back-to-the-basics, mid-century bar.
With his place now open less than a month, we look forward to bar maven Aidan Demarest’s sequel to continue the shake up of the Los Angeles cocktail scene as The Neat Bar has.
Neat Bar 1114 N Pacific Ave., Glendale, CA, 91202