January 2015 Bartender of the Month: Mia Mastroianni
Name: Mia Mastroianni
Current Position: Cocktail Engineer at Soho House
Recent Gigs: With over a decade of experience in the service industry, Mia Mastroianni is a founding bartender of Soho House West Hollywood, where she remains a well-respected mixologist for the who's who of Hollywood. A familiar face in competitions of the bartender elite, last year she won the Speedrack title for fastest most accurate bartender for Southern California, and competed for the national title for her second time in May. This expertise led her to become an expert mixologist on Spike Network’s "Bar Rescue." Working directly with host Jon Taffer, she assists in rescuing numerous bars across America: training bar staff to give high quality of service, implementing proper technique, and executing incredible cocktails.
Known for her tall figure and sassy fun attitude, “Tall Mia” also frequently gives her thoughts on "Bar Rescue" episodes for "Afterbuzz TV" produced by Maria Menounos and Keven Undergaro. Her entertainment presence also includes cocktail segments on VH1’s "Morning Buzz Live with Nick Lachey”, and being a bartending consultant on feature films. Most recently, Mia collaborated with Jon Taffer to redesign the bar program at The Palms Casino's Social Bar.
Why did you become a bartender?
I began bartending in South Beach, right after graduating from the University of Miami. At first I was hired as a server but the manager quickly realized I was more skilled in socializing and becoming friends with the customers than I was in actually serving them. Thankfully instead of firing me he suggested I work as a bartender, that way I could use my social skills to establish regulars. He was right, and as a result of enjoying my job more I began taking a more active interest in the bartending basics. I worked as a bartender there and elsewhere over the next few years, but it wasn't until I moved to Los Angeles that I discovered a passion for the craft cocktail movement and started exploring tools, technique, ingredients, and competitions.
What are some fun flavors you’re working with?
As we are just coming off of the Christmas season I've been feeling holiday inspired, so I've been experimenting with seasonal flavors like apricot, cranberry, cloves, and nutmeg. One of my favorites was a cocktail I called "Winceslas is Your Gain", which was a mixture of Spiced Rum, Lemon Juice, Orgeat, Allspice Dram, and Angostura bitters. Tasty.
What are you doing different from the norm in your beverages?
It's fun to experiment with classic cocktails and put a modern twist on them - changing up one or two ingredients can make a totally different cocktail. Living in Los Angeles, I'm lucky to have access to weekly farmers markets where I'm continuously inspired by fresh, local ingredients that I love to play with.
What’s in the mixing glass or shaker for your customers?
Anything they ask for! Listening to customers is always important, and trying to accommodate their tastes can actually be a challenge and can result in creating something new. I prefer to have a conversation with a bar guest to figure out what particular style of drink they're in the mood for and take it from there.
What are you sipping on and why?
These days I have a Campari addiction - from Negronis and Boulevardiers to hot drinks and swizzles, I'm finding ways to incorporate it in almost anything!
What are you dancing to while mixing?
Honestly I'll find a groove to whatever's on- and we have great DJ's at Soho House!
What are some quirks/quotes you are known for?
A few people have pointed out that I'm known for certain catchphrases at work... These include:
"My time to shine" - before a double-shake
"Man down!" - anytime I drop something
"Nailed it!" - self explanatory
What are your favorite beer styles? Do you have a go-to beer style for different occasions?
From microbrews to IPA's there're so many great flavors happening in beer these days, so it's tough to decide on a favorite. I usually go for the lighter styles, but I'll always have a deep appreciation for a pint of Guinness. When I'm traveling I try to grab a local brew, my latest favorite being Steamwhistle in Toronto.
Don't miss Mia Mastroianni at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show as she speaks during her session entitled
"Going Beyond the Recipes of Modern & Classic Cocktails"