Episode 082 - Pedro Shanahan

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What’s shakin, cocktail fans?

Welcome back to another episode of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!

This week, we’ve got an episode from the Modern Bar Cart West Coast road trip, featuring spirits expert Pedro Shanahan from 213 Hospitality and the Seven Grand whiskey bar in Los Angeles. He also runs the Seven Grand Whiskey Society, Las Perlas' Mezcal Collective, and the Rum Society at Caña Rum Bar, and he is the host of the Spirit Guide Society podcast, where you can listen in to all the amazing tastings they run at all three bars.

The Bar Jackalope in the Seven Grand whiskey bar in Los Angeles, CA

The Bar Jackalope in the Seven Grand whiskey bar in Los Angeles, CA

Some of the things we cover with Pedro in this bourbon-punctuated conversation about flavor and hospitality include:

  • How a yoga teaching actor with an improv background harnessed his creative powers to help build one of LA’s most exciting and revered spirits and cocktail programs.

  • Why the Seven Grand Whiskey Society was formed, and what sorts of people turn out week after week to sample beautiful spirits from the US and abroad.

  • Pedro’s unique approach to leading people of all experience levels through the complex and heady world of flavor.

  • How to comparatively taste whiskeys with an eye toward how those spirits were created and which production or aging methods might be responsible for the flavors in the glass.

  • Deep thoughts about hospitality, flavor architecture, and raisin bread.

  • And much, much more.

Check out the Spirit Guide Society Podcast!

As a companion to this episode, launching a couple days after this show goes live, we are going to CROSS-PUBLISH an episode of the Spirit Guide Society podcast to give you a sense of what Pedro and his team are up to during their spirits tastings.

W HIGHLY recommend that you don’t wait for us to publish that episode to check them out, and if you like what you hear (and we promise you will…) you should hit subscribe.

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Featured Cocktail: The Whisk(e)y Highball

To go along with the spirits we taste through later in the show, this episode’s featured cocktail is the whiskey highball - a simple, beautiful mixed drink that really allows the whiskey to be the star of the show.

To make a whiskey highball, you need:

  • 2-2.5 oz of your favorite whiskey

  • 4-6 oz of sparkling or seltzer water

All you need to do is build this drink in a collins (or highball) glass with ice, adding first the whiskey and then the sparkling water. And to mix everything together, you just need to give it a few gentle stirs.

The Japanese actually have a ritual that involves stirring a Japanese Whisky highball precisely 13 times before serving, but really you just need a couple times around the glass to make it work.

Garnishes aren’t commonly employed with this kind of cocktail, but hey, if you think a citrus twist or some other garnish is going to enhance the experience, I say go for it.

What you’ll find as you experiment with whiskey highballs is that you’ll get to know your whiskey in a completely different way. We’ve all heard that adding a bit of water to your whiskey opens it up a bit - but adding lots of water with bubbles is going to transform it completely.

You can make whiskey highballs with any whiskey under the sun: Bourbon, rye, Irish Whiskey, Canadian whisky, Scotch, and just about everything in between. You might not want to use the most expensive bottle on your shelf, but we’re not going to tell you not to use a nice whiskey in your highballs. You do you.