Taking a bottom’s-up path to the top
Most restaurant industry lifers get their start in the business at a young age. For Townhouse general manager and bartender Adam Sandroni, 28, his career started with dirty dishes at 15.
“I washed dishes, bussed tables, made smoothies, ran food, waited tables, barbacked and finally got to bartend,” said Sandroni. Twelve years, 10 venues, three states and one chance run-in with someone looking to hire a barback later, and Sandroni is now head of one of the most popular bars in Venice Beach. “If it hadn’t been for that chance meeting, I might have ended up moving back to Indiana and living with my dad,” said Sandroni.
While taking a break from slinging Moscow Mules — the most requested drink at Townhouse — Sandroni gave us a little one-on-one time to reveal how he really feels about suspenders and what makes him tick behind the bar. Your favorite cocktail to drink? If it’s morning, a Carpano Bianco vermouth on the rocks with a grapefruit twist hits the spot. Lunchtime? Either a beer or a Tom Collins. With dinner? I like black Manhattans: Rye whiskey, amaro and bitters make the perfect dinner drink with meat dishes. How do you feel about suspenders? I love them. They keep my pants up, they look sharp, they’re comfortable. What’s not to love? Mixologist versus bartender? A bartender by any other name can still pour you a drink, right? I think the word “mixologist” came out of a very good instinct, which was to create a class of professional bartenders — people who took pride in knowing how to make a great cocktail with fresh ingredients. It was a term for those among us who wanted to do more than just pour shots on the weekends but really saw the bar industry as our calling. The word has a bit of a negative connotation now, since it implies pretension and a 20-minute wait for a drink with ingredients you can’t pronounce. That’s a shame, but you can call me a mixologist, a bartender, barkeep, buddy or Adam — you’re still going
to get a great drink. What do you most frequently say “cheers” to? I like to toast to friendship, love and life. After all, one of those things is probably the reason you’re drinking in the first place. What’s one thing people do at the bar you simply can’t stand? It drives me up the wall when people flag me down on a busy night to order a drink, then when I get to them, they turn around to get their friends’ orders. If you flag me down and you’re not ready, you’re preventing someone who is ready to order from getting their drink in a timely manner. If you want my attention, a small wave will do just fine. Please don’t snap or whistle like you would for a dog.
ADAM SANDRONI is general manager at Townhouse, one of the most popular bars in Venice Beach. Order the Moscow Mule.