The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2013

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Anthony Lerner, Beverage Director, Comme Ça, Los Angeles A nthony Lerner's first love was acting, but wine is the Mata Hari that really stole his heart. "I love wine like I love a family member," says the recently appointed Beverage Director at Chef David Myers's French brasserie Comme Ça in Los Angeles. During his time as a server in San Francisco, Lerner was swept away by the world of wine. "There's a whole world of education within wine: history, public speaking, science. Every aspect of our world is rolled into one little bottle!" With his wine appetite sufficiently whetted, Lerner found his way to Comme Ça as Sommelier, and is excited about embracing the challenges and adventures that come with overseeing a cocktail and spirit program as well. "Both the wine program and the spirit program at Comme Ça is designed to encourage people to explore, and find new things—not to force them to think outside of the box," says Lerner, who features small batch spirits in the bar program and sees utilizing these lesser-known brands as an educational opportunity. "If someone orders a Grey Goose cocktail, our bartenders will take the time to explain to them that we don't carry Grey Goose—but we do carry Hangar One, and this is why you'll like it. It's all about the hand-sell, and our guests appreciate that individualized attention." THE TASTING PANEL wanted to find out what Lerner does and does not appreciate in a bar program, so we sat down with him to discuss his five faves and pet peeves. Do you agree? —Rachel Burkons The "5" LIST Anthony Lerner's Top Five Faves 1 Customers who are willing to try new things and are excited about it. Servers who can sell their own 2 wine. It shows that you're a valuable resource—not just an order-taker! The process of creating a wine 3 list. I'm very artistic about it and am always tweaking! PHOTO: ERICA BARTEL Taking Inventory with. . . story and photo by Lana Bortolot 4 When a guest brings in a bottle of something truly special and offers me a taste when I open it. It is incredibly generous, so I waive their corkage. 5 Tequila Ocho! I love the concept of a vintage tequila. Anthony Lerner's Five Pet Peeves 1 Yelpers who don't know what they're talking about. 2 Bartenders who refuse to make a drink even though they have all the products. 3 Reps who come in without an appointment and want to do a tasting. Give me a call first and we can set something up! 4 Smelly/dirty glassware. 5 The Layback. Mixologists love Anthony Lerner. 38  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2013 them, but where is the craft cocktail movement in that?

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