Social Costa Mesa is the talk of the town these days. Open for about a month now on 19th street in Costa Mesa, this happening new spot is being praised for their cocktail program. Their bar team is packed with heavy hitters, and Mike West is the Captain. Formerly of Pie Society, and Roxanne’s Lounge in Long Beach, Mike has spent many years behind bars. He’s very passionate and excited to see what he and his crew can do. We all can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for us!
I had the pleasure of meeting Mike recently, and had a little chat.
Q: How did you get started in the industry and when?
A: As soon as I was old enough to work I started in the food industry. Growing up, food has always been something that captured my attention. So, I figured it made sense to be it around it as much as possible. At 16 years old, I began as a food runner and continued to climb from there.
Q: Who taught you how to be the bartender you are today?
A: I have many friends and influences along the way that have helped mold my creativity and show me new things. Steve Garcia was one of the most brilliant barmen I have had the opportunity to work with and really helped sharpen my craft. I love expanding my knowledge, and once I saw where the trend was headed, I began studying in my free time.
Q: How would you describe your bar tending style?
A: Versatile. I’m a chameleon of sorts. I can adapt to any style of bar and make it applicable to the customer.
Q: What kind of bar program can people expect at Social?
A: One that will be constantly evolving. Quite a lot goes into a restaurant opening so I think some wisdom comes in not biting off more than you can chew, so we kept it reasonable yet still creative. As things smooth out we plan on doing more innovative creations and using unique ingredients, as well as create syrups and cordials never seen before.
Q: What inspires you when creating a cocktail menu?
A: First and foremost Season. What ingredients are going to be peaking these next few months? After that, literally everything I see inspires me. Some out-of-the-blue sign I saw, or I will try and re-create some sort of food dish in a liquid form, or I really like creating in what my mind i think of as “worldly” meaning I choose a county or region and create using their spices and spirits. After that I ask myself is it approachable to almost everyone that will walk through these doors?
Q: With such a strong bar staff, is the menu a collaborative effort or just yours?
A: I want to give everyone a chance to showcase their talents here. Its not just about me, its all of us that make Social what we are and I couldn’t be me without any of them. This menu has cocktails created by Kristian Litchfield and Alejandro Pareja as well.
Q: What sets Social’s bar apart from other craft bars?
A: I want to preface this with what sets us apart, not makes us better. I believe it begins with how much thought went into this prior to opening. We have an incredibly well-versed team from the kitchen to the bar. It’s a culinary dream team. Our passion takes us to the next level, never being content with just being good. We want to continually surprise our guests with new dishes, seasonal cocktails and new concepts never practiced before in this industry.
Q: Which of your current cocktails will become a Social signature?
A: Well i am not totally sure yet, I can tell you which ones are running away with the title: Border Patrol, Cynarra, Midnight Georgia, Peace Co. and Julius Ceasar.
To view more food photos of Social Costa Mesa – Click Here.