By Gina V. Ramsey
Bradley Eston, 30, got his “training” while working as a barback at some of the city’s best bars and eateries such as Padre and Federal Bar on Pine, although he originally aimed to be a chef. However, as the Wilson High alumnus learned more about the craft cocktail and beer worlds from “some amazing bartenders,” he dove ever deeper into this culture. From making his own syrup tinctures and cutting perfectly clear ice, to coming up with his own spin on classics, Bradley is a true artist at his craft.
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during Covid, when he was out of a job as so many others in the hospitality branch, Bradley reconsidered a business opportunity with the owners of the new bar Port City Tavern, giving him full creative control of the drink menu, as well as input into other business events. Port City Tavern bravely opened its doors mid-pandemic in 2020, and is housed at the old Iguana Kelley’s stomping grounds on Anaheim Street.
As bar manager, Bradley brought previous managerial and business experience from working at several Long Beach eateries, but he was most excited about getting inventive behind the scenes. “I realized the corporate structure [of running a bar] is important from a business perspective,” he said. “I also like being a part of the creative side of the business and the freedom of having events: the music, décor, the menus.”
He was able to create the drink menu however he felt inspired, and graciously mixed for me one of his favorites: Papa Guava, a refreshing twist on a New York Sour, and made with cacao infused whiskey. Asked if he’d try to make his way back to the kitchen as a chef one day, Bradley grins big and says, “Nah, I cook enough behind the bar, making the spices and infusions.”
Bartending isn’t just about mixing drinks well. It has become a profession that requires the constant blending of innovation, creativity, and customer service. “It’s a craft,” Bradley said. “And it’s hospitality. I try to treat [customers] like how you’d treat guests in your own house.”
For someone who constantly mixes different flavors to enhance their taste and color, it is only fitting that Bradley’s Instagram handle is @cocktail_van_gogh.