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This article was featured on localemagazine.com“Where to go in LA for Your Next Drink”

Position: Bar Manager at Harvard and Stone

Industry Lineage: Harvard and Stone 2011, Allumette 2013, Honeycut 2013, Genesis at Sassafras Saloon 2013

Called Out by: Karen Grill of Sassafras Saloon (link to Q and A)

 

Shout Outs: Miles Thompson of Allumette, Alex Day of The Normandie Club, Gabriella Mlynarczyk of Cadet, Rick Swan of Cliff’s Edge, Mark Hendrix of Elysian, Joey Bernardo of Harvard and Stone, Lost Lake, and Aviary.

 

Call Outs: Dave Fernie of Honeycut

Serena, her name is almost an introduction into her focused and collected bartending style. Ms. Herrick is the Bar Manager at one of the Hollywood favorites, Harvard and Stone.  This bar lends itself to the trend of an understated facade with a cluster of culture raging inside.  Live music by popular bands in the rock and alternative rock genre are paired with the the creativity of the main cocktail menu.  The bar has a strong industrial feel with exposed pipes coming in and out of brick walls and wood beams to make you feel like your blue collar attire is not shunned here.  The dim lights hide leather seats, private rooms, a second bar and a back stairway.  The “patio” is no larger than a hallway in your home, but is a calm environment compared to the banging of the drums and the calls of drinks being shouted to the bartenders from every corner of both the main and “R and D” bars.  Serena is on her second stint at Harvard and Stone, obviously not phased by the excitement of this bar, but maybe, thats the life of a bartender.

1. What opportunities up to this point have made you grow the most creatively?

 

Serena Herrick - Harvard and StoneWithout a doubt, working with chef Miles Thompson at Allumette was the most incredible opportunity for creative growth.  The kid’s a genius and we had a very collaborative relationship working together on food and drinks.  He built close relationships with many farms as well so we had access to the most incredible ingredients which really expanded what we could do.

 

2.  What skills or talents do you have that someone may not know about right off the bat?

 

Well, like most of us in this industry it wasn’t what I initially set out to do.  I studied photography and was planning on making photo/installation work.  Now that I take photography and art less seriously I’ve been able to casually reinvigorate it as something enjoyable.

 

3.  What is your process for drawing cocktail inspiration?

 

A lot of it comes from food and trying to think of elements like acidity and seasonality.  I’ve also learned to trust my palate.  You can work a drink to death and add and subtract a million elements but usually trusting what I know tastes good works pretty well.

 

4.  Who do you look up to as a mentor (someone you have worked directly with) in this industry? What have you learned from them?

 

Even though I don’t work for his company anymore, I really look up to Alex Day.  His approach is so thorough and he has such a dedication to perfection and enthusiasm for all of this; you don’t see that so often.

 

5. Who’s cocktail program(s) do you admire locally, nationally, or globally? Include at least one bar you dream of visiting.

 

Serena Herrick - Harvard and StoneDave Fernie kills it down at Honeycut.  Gabriella Mlynarczyk is brilliant as well.  She used to be at Ink but is doing awesome things now over at Cadet. I’d like to visit Lost Lake and Aviary, the latter not necessarily because that’s my style but because of the experience. I’m going to Chicago in April and hope to hit both!

 

6.  When you are looking to go out for a great drink: What is the drink? Where do you go? and who is making it?

 

I’m picky about who I’ll get cocktails from for sure.  I usually don’t drink them when I’m out.  If I do it’ll be something simple like a daiquiri or gimlet.  I usually stay on the east side and the cocktail options are limited in Echo Park and Silverlake…  That being said, Rick Swan over at Cliff’s Edge always impresses me with what he makes.

 

7. What drink ingredient, spirit or otherwise, are you excited about? why?

 

I’m fully addicted to CapRock Bitter.  It’s a biodynamic fortified wine that tastes like a bone dry, refreshing Amontillado.  It’s really fun to mess with in cocktails too.

 

8.  What is unique about your bar, and what is it bringing to the very strong LA cocktail game?

 

Harvard & Stone is special to me because it’s the first bar I worked at in LA and now I’m back as bar manager.  Every bar in Houston Hospitality has something cool to offer but Harvard is still and always consistent and cool.  Not a lot of spaces do such a good job of walking the line of music venue, cocktail bar, lab for new drinks (R&D bar) and total party.

 

9. I’m looking for something citrus forward from your cocktail list, what are you recommending?

 

Serena Herrick - Harvard and StoneEveryone loves the Twenty-Second Century.  It’s “the vodka drink” and totally accessible but a bit elevated.

 

10.  I’m looking for something spirit forward and aromatic from your cocktail list, what are you recommending?

 

Serena Herrick - Harvard and StoneI think one of the best cocktails on the menu is the Sherry Stone.  It’s tough to achieve that level of lightness and subtlety with a stirred cocktail but this one nails it.

 

11.  I’m looking for something I’ve never seen before, or something that you do the best.  What are you recommending?

 

I really like messing with low ABV cocktails and lesser known secondary spirits.  I love making aperitif cocktails.  One of my favorites is an Americano variation with peppercorns and Yuzu Kosho.

 

12. In 5 years, what do you hope to accomplish?

 

Serena Herrick - Harvard and StoneBig question.  Honestly, no idea.  I’m lucky to work with Peak Spirits; they’re a really amazing group of people doing things nobody else really is.  So I’d like to deepen that relationship.  I’d love to have my own bar, but I’m not sure I would do it in LA.  My honky tonk/tiki bar might have to be in somewhere like the desert or Colorado.

 

13. Who is an up and coming talent in your industry that people should know about?

 

Mark Hendrix. He does the cocktails at Elysian, a beautiful event venue and pop up space run by the talented David Thorne.  His drinks blow me away every time.  Oh, and Joey Bernardo.

 

14. If you could ask similar questions to another bartender friend of yours, who would it be?

 

Dave Fernie.  He started this whole cocktail thing for me years ago and is one of the best bartenders I know.  Gotcha, man.

 

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