Lindsay Nader: "I'm Very Used to Women Hating on Women"
The mixologist addresses her conflicts with Jessica and Brenda.
Bravotv.com: We hear a little bit about your background, but where can people try your stuff? What was your road to becoming a mixologist?
Lindsay Nader: I come from a family of performers. My father was an actor for many years on Dynasty and All My Children. I studied theater arts from elementary school all the way through college and luckily found representation the moment I moved to NYC after leaving The University Of The Arts in Philadelphia. Some of my credits include Law & Order, The Messenger with Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster, and a lot of independent film. I wasn’t able to support myself on acting alone, so on completion of an indie film, I began looking for part-time work in the service industry, and that’s when I struck gold. PDT (which stands for Please Don’t Tell) is a speakeasy-style cocktail bar in NYC’s East Village and one of the most iconic and recognized bars in the world, winning worlds best cocktail bar in 2009 at Tales Of The Cocktail, the Oscars for the bar world. I was hired as the door girl and quickly fell in love with the revival movement of classic cocktails. I discovered I possessed a culinary sensibility and wanted to try my hand at the trade, as the performance aspect of bartending intrigued me. I was extremely lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. The level of training I received from my mentor Jim Meehan, who is regarded as one of the most successful and influential personalities in the bar world, paired with the camaraderie of his amazing staff, gave me the skill set to tackle every aspect of the cocktail/spirits industry. In the summer of 2010 I signed on as Cocktail Editor/recipe tester for Food & Wine magazine’s 2011 Cocktail Book, a highly esteemed annual publication. Since returning to my home town of Los Angeles, I have had the privilege of working with Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, Food & Wine magazines Best New Chefs of 2009, designing a classic drink program for the opening of their second endeavor, Son Of A Gun. I then went on to join Houston Hospitality, a design firm run by twins Mark and Jonnie Houston who are responsible for creating some of the most well-known bars in Los Angeles, including Harvard & Stone, La Descarga, Pour Vous, and No Vacancy. In 2012, I co-founded Elysium Craft Cocktail Services, a consulting and private event company. I also began to write about my adventures and opinions on my blog N.A.D.E.R. For the last year I have represented the Remy Cointreau spirits portfolio as the California Cocktail and Spirits Expert, and am now currently the Los Angeles Brand Ambassador for Absolut and Absolut Elyx Vodkas. I’ve been so lucky and blessed with every opportunity I have had!
Bravotv.com: What's your favorite cocktail? Why?
LN: My favorite is the Sazerac, a variation of an Old Fashioned and a New Orleans specialty. A Sazerac can be made with cognac or rye whiskey, with the addition of a little sugar, bitters, and an absinthe rinse. It’s a bruiser, but absolutely delicious! Although this appears to be a very simple cocktail, it takes a great amount of skill to make one perfectly. I enjoy Sazeracs most during the winter months, snuggling up with a sweetie.
Bravotv.com: If you were any cocktail, what would it be?
LN: A classic gin martini, which is strong, sexy, and timeless.
Bravotv.com: We're first introduced to you as Nina's friend, but how do you two know each other?
LN: Nina and I met through overlapping social circles in Los Angeles. I connected with her immediately. She’s real, she works very hard, and her passion for food comes alive in her cooking. Nina and I share similar views on how we eat as a society. I was raised macrobiotic and had very progressive i.e. “hippy dippy” parents that taught me to be conscious of what I put in my body. I was fortunate enough to have a mother who worked on biodynamic farms, owned an all-natural bakery, and always kept a garden, out of which we ate multiple meals each week from its yield. With heart disease, obesity and many other food related epidemics taking a strangle hold on our nation, it’s people like Nina who are making a difference. I try and surround myself with aware and positive people like her.
Bravotv.com: Your work with Jessica didn't quite work out. What was that experience like?
LN: I think it was more frustrating for Jess than it was for me. I could tell that Jess didn’t have any idea of what she was doing. It was uncomfortable in Fuku Burger, and I could see the business was slowly declining, so I’m not surprised that it’s now closed. I will always take a meeting, which I did, with the inclusion of my two partners in Elysium. We didn’t see enough potential in the project, and especially when Jess was not able to be specific on what her budget was, I saw a huge red flag. For Jess to revive her bar program, she would have had to purchase a decent amount of new equipment, hire someone to prep, bring me in to train her staff on the category of sake and cocktail-making techniques, etc... there was a lot more to be done than she even realized. And that’s fine, because it’s my job to identify where the pain points are and to fill them in. However “Just five cocktails” requires a lot more work than basic cocktail development. Jess didn’t have the infrastructure in place to create cocktails night after night. What she wanted was a quick fix, a Band-Aid for her bar. So 5K for a full makeover? I don’t think that’s too much to ask. What I do is very new and niche and has had little exposure on national television. It’s also not for everyone, and that’s OK. I love my work! Therefore, I don’t compromise on quality, and if I were to show up and hand over five cocktail recipes without having a number on paper? That wouldn’t make me very good at business, now would it?
Bravotv.com: How did you feel when Jess ended your business relationship in front of the other girls?
LN: I was a little shocked at how unprofessional it was especially because she talks such a big game. But I think we both knew we weren’t the right fit for each other, so c'est la vie.
Bravotv.com: You've also had some conflict with Brenda -- what's your history with her?
LN: I think you mean Brenda has had some conflict with me... ha!
We barely know each other. I remember her mean-mugging me the moment I shook her hand for the very first time. I shrugged it off, as we do live in LA, a sometimes vapid and superficial city, and I am very used to women hating on women. If I let every woman who glares at me while walking down the street get inside my head, I would be just as miserable as they are.
Bravotv.com: How close are you to her boss?
LN: I met her boss through my ex-boyfriend. She is a delightful person and she helped me quite a bit professionally when I moved back to LA.
Bravotv.com: Brenda doesn't believe that you didn't tell her boss about the 5x5 dinner. What's the story?
LN: I knew at the time that Brenda’s boss did not want to be part of Brenda’s “public life,” therefore I went three months without speaking with her, out of respect. When Brenda made up the lie that I “told on her,” I called her boss to see what the problem was, and of course, she had no idea what I was talking about. I feel bad for Brenda. I believe you hurt yourself the most by condemnation of others. Her behavior is very transparent. I come from a bartending and acting background. I read behavior. I read drunk people’s behavior. I’m not sure why Brenda felt the need to dream up fiction.Bravotv.com: After watching and seeing how the girls criticize your attire at Bouchon, etc. what are you feeling?
LN: They can think whatever they like. It just sucks that they were bothered by something so trivial during such an epic meal! What a waste of energy. I’m very comfortable in who I am, the way I dress, and how I hold myself. I was personally invited by Chef Josiah Citrin from Episode 5, and I work on my feet and in tandem with chefs, very often in the kitchen. I didn’t feel the need to put on fake eyelashes to dine.
Bravotv.com: Anything else you'd like to add?
LN: It’s been such a privilege spending time with the women who work very hard with their hands. Nina and Waylynn are powerhouse ladies that I admire a lot. I am not surprised if people find me to be a little harsh. Life is short, and I want to enjoy every moment of it and surround myself with people who bring me joy. It’s difficult being thrown into a situation where you are spending time with some women with whom you have nothing in common with besides sharing roles in an industry. I guess for me, the hammer of austerity was often chosen to close some issues. All in all, I strive to be, and can only hope that I represent the positives of women in the culinary industry, as I am very proud to be one.