Noe Garcia has been with Sotto from the beginning. He worked as a back server for the first six years, running the dining room with constant good humor. Today, you can find Noe behind the bar, where he has been shaking cocktails for the past year.
Noe worked his way through a high pedigree of LA restaurants before finding his home at Sotto. He helped open Rivera and has worked at many other chef-driven concepts, such as Palate Food + Wine and Comme Ça.
We sat down with Noe at the bar to talk hospitality, fishing and bartending, all while enjoying his aromatic Fuego Rosa cocktail, made with Vida Mezcal, Meletti Amaro, grapefruit bitters, and Cocchi Rosa vermouth.
How do you like bartending?
I really love it, I like being a bartender. I’m the kind of person who is very social. And I think to be a bartender gives me the opportunity to meet people and it makes me feel good to give good service to people. Makes me connect with the people and to help them have a good experience.
How did you become a bartender?
For years I was trying to be a bartender. Sotto gave me the opportunity and they took me into the program. Brynn [Sotto’s bar director] was so excited to help me become a bartender.
Julian Cox was a bartender at Comme Ça when I was there and he was the bar manager at Rivera. So I had been around that and had known about the bar program for a long time.
What kind of cocktails do you like to drink?
I mainly like to drink stirred, aromatic cocktails.
Like the Fuego Rosa.
Yes. I was inspired to make the Fuego Rosa because I’m from Oaxaca, but I used to hate mezcal. But, after going through the bar training program, I realized I wanted to do something with mezcal. We’re a southern Italian restaurant where one of our more important liqueurs is Amaro. I connected with Amaro Meletti, so that’s how I got the inspiration for the Fuego Rosa.
What does the name Fuego Rosa mean?
Fuego Rosa means Pink Fire.
What do you do when you’re not bartending?
On my days off, what I love to do is go to eat at restaurants, eat street tacos, and to deepen my experience and learn how to give good service to people.
And I like to go fishing.
Where do you go fishing?
There’s no limit. I go everywhere.
What kind of fish do you catch?
What is fun for me is catching bass. That’s more of a challenge. Its a big challenge because I like to do casting. Or swordfish.
You go fishing for swordfish? Have you ever caught a swordfish?
Just one time. That happened in 2004 in Oaxaca.
Wow. You do catch and release, right?
Yes, all the time.
What are your Street Taco recommendations?
Ave 26 Taco Stand in Lincoln Heights for $1 tacos, Oaxaca Town Cafe on Pico Blvd for “Taco de la Abuela” and Mayas Tacos Market in Echo Park for cochinita pibil
Very nice. Okay, before we go, can you tell me why you’re such a chingon?
(laughs) I think I’m not chingon! But I’ve been learning skills on how to work with people and my coworkers, and everyone, so I guess I’m chingon because I learned to answer “Absolutely.” All the time.
You answer “absolutely” all the time? Is that what hospitality is? Being able to say “absolutely?”