We sat down with Christine Wiseman of LA’s Broken Shaker to chat about her work, bourbon, LA’s cocktail scene, and her drink for May’s Broken Bourbon Box, the Massive Carnage!
S&S: What’s it like to work at LA’s Broken Shaker? How did your journey lead there?
CW: It is the best job that I have ever had! This sounds cheesy, but working outside on a rooftop with beautiful views and the most amazing staff has changed my life for the better. Gabe, Elad, and Gui have been the best mentors to me!
S&S: How does Broken Shaker stand out in the city’s crowd?
CW: Well, we are fourteen floors above most bars! We provide so many different and unique experiences for people. You can keep it super chill and come and hang in your bathing suit, have a couple of cocktails before a show, a drink before you hit the town with the people you just met in your shared room. It’s the best!
S&S: What do you think would surprise an out-of-towner on a bar crawl through Los Angeles? Any distinct trends of late that you can identify for us?
CW: LA has one of the best and fastest growing cocktail scenes in the world! I think what makes LA stand out and differ is just the amount of space that we have, you can have a drink on the beach, go to Hollywood to some amazing clubs, or come downtown and have a drink with a dope city view.
S&S: What is your creative process like? How do you think about tradition versus experimentation when it comes to flavors or techniques?
CW: My creative process is all over the board. I can go to the farmer’s market and see something and know exactly what I am going to make with that, other times inspiration strikes me while out to dinner and discovering a flavor that I have never had or a flavor combination. Working with chefs has been a big part of my creative process lately. They have the ability to create so much depth in flavor.
S&S: Is there an ingredient or technique you’re currently fascinated with?
CW: Pandan and coconut. I could do a whole menu with just those 2 things and be the happiest person in the world.
S&S: Yum! And we have to ask . . . how did you conceive of the pairing of celery and coffee in your Massive Carnage cocktail?
CW: Hahahaha! So many people ask me that! This sounds weird to say, but sometimes I just wake up in the middle of the night and ideas come to me and I write them down in a notebook I keep by my bed, and this was one of those wacky ideas!
S&S: Wacky, but delicious! Any other surprising flavor combinations in your repertoire?
CW: I have a carrot colada on the menu right now with marjoram and pink peppercorn and it is soooo delicious!
S&S: Is there any specific food you would recommend pairing with the Massive Carnage?
CW: I feel like you could have it with your breakfast due to the coffee flavor and that will wake you right up!
S&S: What music do you hope people are listening to as they mix and enjoy it at home?
CW: Rock and roll all day long!!
S&S: In what cocktail would you say bourbon shines the most?
CW: I always prefer bourbon in a spirit-forward stirred cocktail. I also like to under-dilute it so you can taste the bourbon so many different ways as the ice and water mix with it.
S&S: Outside of the big names, are there any under-the-radar bourbons with which you are currently enamored?
CW: Not exactly a bourbon but a whisky coming from Portland called Westward. Its so delicious and love the unique flavor.
S&S: Have you ever visited The Kentucky Bourbon Trail or other bourbon distilleries? If so, what did you take away from the experience?
CW: Yes, I have had the opportunity to go a couple of times thanks to Lush Life. It is so beautiful there and just the history of all of the generations of families that have been making bourbon and how unique each one is. It is such a process and so much love is put into making bourbon.
S&S: The Kentucky Derby is coming up and a lot of bourbon cocktails will be drank (including yours, all over the country!). Do you have any other favorite sport-, holiday, or event-intertwined drinks?
CW: Baseball games! I love going and drinking cold beers and heckling the other fans.
S&S: What’s your personal late spring/early summer drink of choice?
CW: A piña colada all day long!
S&S: If you could imagine one perfect location to be sipping on the Massive Carnage, where would it be?
CW: At the Kentucky Derby! It’s on my bucket list and I want to be there in the big hat and sipping on my cocktail.
S&S: Perfect answer! What would you say has been your biggest cocktail hit?
CW: I had a couple of drinks on my first menu: one that had a fuzzy flamingo garnish in it, great drink but mostly ordered for how dang cute the garnish was, and a coconut margarita with kaffir agave killed it over the first summer open.
S&S: And what’s the best drink you’ve ever had?
CW: Banana Dailquir at Lost Lake, I could literally drink a thousand of them, and the Carrot Cake Ramos at the Aviary.
S&S: What do you do when you’re not working?
CW: Hit the farmer’s market and invite some friends over and cook with my bestie Aaron Polsky.
S&S: What’s your go-to drink order when trying out at a new place?
CW: Anything on their menu, people put a lot of time and effort into their cocktails and I want to try out what they are proud of.