BoozeMenus goes behind the bar for an exclusive interview with Gerber Group CEO, Scott Gerber, to find out why the new LCL: Bar & Kitchen is all about farm-to-table cocktails
BoozeMenus: Why is organic food/beverage quality important for THE LCL?
Scott Gerber: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important and we try to emphasize local, organic and sustainable practices when we can. We believe organic products can ensure our guests a healthier lifestyle.
BM: Why is it important to have locally sourced ingredients?
SG: Serving locally sourced food allows us to provide the best flavor profiles possible to our guests. Fresh fruits and vegetables picked yesterday just taste better than food that has traveled halfway across the county, while it simultaneously reduces our carbon footprint. Even the name itself, THE LCL, represents all of the local products and ingredients that we offer and our support for the local artisans and flavors surrounding us.
BM: What are some of its benefits in terms of food quality?
SG: By using locally sourced food, THE LCL is able to provide an ever-changing seasonal menu that’s always fresh. Fresh, quality ingredients lead to better tasting meals and hopefully healthier and happier guests.
BM: What was your inspiration for this bar program?
SG: THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen represents all of the local products and ingredients that we offer and our support for the local artisans and flavors surrounding us. We incorporated this into our bar program and we offer an extensive selection of local small-batch spirits, regionally brewed craft beers and organic, sustainable and biodynamic wines.
BM: Will your menu change seasonally based on what's ripe each season? If so, what produce should we expect to pop up on the spring menu?
SG: Yes, THE LCL, like all other Gerber Group properties, uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. This spring we will be incorporating seasonal fruits such as strawberries, grapefruit and rhubarb into our bar program. We will also be using fresh mint from the rooftop garden. It doesn’t get more locally sourced then that!
BM: Why did you decide to open a bar at Westin?
SG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Host Hotels & Resorts have been valued partners of Gerber Group for over 12 years and we were excited to expand our partnership into some of their other notable hotel brands. We were looking forward to creating a fresh new concept for the brand, and I think we were able to achieve that with THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen.
BM: We know this is your first bar at a Westin with such a large focus on the cocktail program. Do you plan on opening more in the near future?
SG: Yes, THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen was developed with the intent of opening into other Westin properties.
BM: With so many nightclubs and bars opening and closing, what is the most important aspect to keeping it afloat?
SG: Gerber Group has managed to create longevity over the past 21 years for our brands by rebuffing the tendency to create new “it” bars. We do not create trendy bars, rather bars that are on trend. We concentrate on creating a consistent feel in each of our venues, all while adapting to the local demographics of the city. We also hire great staff and keep them engaged to ensure passion for their work and quality interaction with our guests. Our liquor tastes the same as everyone else’s: it’s the staff that keeps customers coming back for a consistently enjoyable experience.
BM: We know fruity cocktails have a girly connotation. If a man walks into the bar, what from the menu would you suggest he order?
SG: We have a specialty cocktail on the menu called Bonfire on the Bayou, which is made with local gin, rhubarb syrup, Organic Avenue grapefruit juice, lemon and creole bitters. The anise-infused bitters plays off the juniper root in the gin and the grapefruit adds a sweet acidity. It’s pink because of the rhubarb, but it is certainly not a girly cocktail. It’s called Bonfire on the Bayou for a reason!
BM: What is your favorite drink on the menu?
SG: My favorite drink on the menu is the McGregor’s Mission made with Irish whiskey, rouge vermouth, fig demerara and old fashioned bitters. I also like the 2 Pony Kick made with Stumptown coffee and cacao bean infused bourbon, demerara, and local xocolatl mole bitters. I love how we incorporated our partners Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Organic Avenue into our cocktail program at THE LCL. The venue is open from morning to night and it’s great that we found a way to incorporate these valued brands into our concept throughout the day.
BM: What is your favorite cocktail to drink at home?
SG: When I am relaxing at home I typically keep it simple by drinking wine, however, after a long day at the office I like to unwind with bourbon or tequila on the rocks.
BM: If your life could be described in one drink, which would it be?
SG: Don Julio 1942 on the rocks, because it’s strong, smooth, straight forward, yet complex.
BM: Any secret tips about mixology (making drinks at home) that you want to share with our readers?
SG: Always use a jigger when creating cocktails at home. Most people tend to eye ball their pours which can lead to an under or over pour that can drastically change the intended taste of the cocktail. Using a jigger controls the portion and helps to ensure a better tasting cocktail for you and your guests.
By Ashley Caputo