Chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, the current host of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown is the ultimate authority on all things food and drink, which is why he was the obvious choice to explore the world of spirits in The Balvenie’s Raw Craft, an inspiring behind the scenes look inside the workshops of some of the most talented craftspeople in the world. Throughout the show’s first season, over 2.6 million viewers gained a glimpse into the lives and works of committed artisans at the forefront of the American craft movement. Guiding Bourdain through their process, each craftsperson provides a unique insight into the dedication and sacrifice required to create things the old fashioned way—by hand. Bourdain says, “The term handcrafted gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s become a movement—a trend—that can obscure passionate folks who actually make amazing things by hand.” Through Raw Craft, Bourdain uncovers the true meaning of craftsmanship and aims to raise a new level of awareness for the American craft movement. Due to its overwhelming popularity, the single malt Scotch whisky brand and Bourdain returned for a second season of Raw Craft, which debuted last month on September 15. The series celebrates an all-new group of America’s most talented craftspeople—handpicked by Bourdain, might we add. The Balvenie is a perfect pairing, so to speak, because it, too, supports the craft of whisky-making by growing its own barley, using traditional floor maltings, employing a team of coopers to tend its casks, a coppersmith to maintain its stills, and has in its service one of the most experienced Malt Masters, David Stewart, MBE, in Scotch whisky history.
We caught up with Bourdain when he was in Tinseltown to screen a sneak preview of his show at Cinefamily, the Silent Movie Theatre, featuring Mats Christéen, furniture designer and founder of his design company Foundrywood, to pick his brain about his favorite spots to drink in the City of Angels—and what his perfect food pairings in each spot would be.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN’S FAVORITE BARS IN LA
Jumbo’s Clown Room (5153 Hollywood Boulevard) Jumbo’s Clown Room is a strip club, sure, but it’s also a fun, well-run bar, where the pours are generous, the dancers have some pretty impressive tattoos and keep some of their clothes on, so it’s almost good clean family fun, if slightly divey. And the clientele generally know how to behave.
Perfect Food Pairing: There are some good Thai restaurants within a few blocks of Jumbo’s that I’d walk to after having a Scotch or two.
Musso & Frank(6667 Hollywood Boulevard) Musso & Frank’s is a perfectly-preserved old-school Hollywood restaurant, where professional adult bartenders know how to mix a perfect cocktail, because it’s their job, not because they have a steampunk fetish or stumbled across Dad’s old moustache wax in the basement.
Perfect Food Pairing: I’d go super-classic: iceberg wedge, bone-in ribeye, creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms.
Oldfields Liquor Room (10899 Venice Boulevard) Oldfield’s Liquor Room is another bar that takes their cocktails seriously so you don’t have to. You may spot the occasional throwback hairdo or vest, but the bartenders will make you a decent ham and cheese panino if you ask nicely, so it all evens out.
Perfect Food Pairing: It’s a panino or bust.