One drink at a time Dan Warrilow takes us into his lab at BLT.
Text by Natalie Shirinian & Michelle Peerali
What comes to mind when you think of a Caramel Sidecar? A ’30s gangster mobile perhaps? If you’re in the hands of Dan Warrilow, you’ll have a different perspective. The 27-year-old mixologist has been concocting specialty drinks that have traveled to NYC, Washington, DC, and most recently, LA.
Born in Rochester, Warrilow first landed in the lap of BLT Steak, Manhattan, with only five dollars in his pocket. With that signature NYC gusto, Warrilow took a chance and walked into the restaurant to ask if they were hiring bartenders. As luck would have it, he was hired on the spot and continued working there for the next three years.
Looking to change his scenery, Warrilow moved to Washington, DC for a year and a half before settling in LA where he has been residing for the past eight months. The dynamic in each of the three cities was different and inspired Warrilow to explore and create his unique drink palate. “Going out for cocktails in LA is so popular, so of course it’s a perfect environment to experiment with different specialty drinks and see the reaction that my customers have,” he explains.
Warrilow’s knowledge of spirits doesn’t stop at specialty drinks and signature cocktails. He is equally well-versed in beers, fine wines and pairing. His secret to making extraordinary drinks is to use ingredients that are not only fresh but seasonal, creating a perfect compliment to the delicacies at BLT.
Through constant experimentation, like a chemist in his lab, Warrilow has concocted notable drinks such as the Blueberry Açai Spritzer, The Last Taco Stand, and most popular with customers, The Golden Lotus (a combination of Lotus vodka, Lillet Blanc, passion fruit puree and lime juice). One of his personal favorites is his famous bourbon drink called the Caramel Sidecar, which is composed of Makers Mark, Averna, muddled cherries and honey water. “The bar was literally covered in every fruit and ingredient until I came up with something I thought our customers will love,” Warrilow recollects. And love it they do. Warrilow’s loyal clients range from young to old, from groups of friends going out on the town to those seeking a great meal with the perfect beverage complements to regulars from when BLT Steak was known as the popular Le Dome.
Upon arrival, be sure to ask for the secret drink, The Clear Bloody Mary. You won’t see it on the menu, but it’s a delight to taste and has an extensive story behind it. And, like all of Warrilow’s drinks, it was invented with his refreshing philosophy in mind. As Warrilow says, “The best part of what I do is not only having a drink that tastes good, but a combination that tantalizes the palate and senses, and just makes people feel good.”
BLT Steak, 8720 Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069. Other locations include: NYC, Washington, DC, San Juan, White Plains, LA, Miami, and Scottsdale