This week readers get their wine paired with song…in the name of voice teacher, bartender, cocktail server and former Santa Clarita resident, Brittney Westover. You may know Brittney from her time bartending at Roman Holiday Wine Lounge, or teaching voice at our popular VIBE Performing Arts Studios. I know both places…and have been lucky enough to hear Brittney sing myself. I will never forget how she brought me to tears at last year’s Vine 2 Wine Classic, when I stopped working long enough to hear her sing opera.
- Brittney, tell Beacon readers IF there is a connection between a love of wine and a love of music. My theory is that if one stops to smell the flowers, aka think about the wine they are drinking or the music they are listening to, that their awareness of all life’s beauty is more apparent to them. Does that make sense?
That makes a lot of sense to me, Eve. I think it’s different for each individual, but for me, enjoying a great glass of wine while listening to music that moves me is like doubling my pleasure, doubling the fun! Consuming delectable beverages can enhance my music-listening experience, and vice versa as well. There are also times when I like to enjoy them separately so that I can really pay attention to one thing at a time, and appreciate it for just what it is. But like you said, it’s your awareness that gives you a sense of connection and appreciation for all the beautiful and pleasurable things life has to offer. I feel very blessed to have that awareness in so many aspects of my life.
- Having moved recently from Santa Clarita to Pasadena you picked up a new job at Raymond Restaurant and Bar 1886 in South Pasadena. What do you like about the bar menu there that will tempt us to drive out?
Well, Eve, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed by Bar 1886’s cocktail program. In addition to an extensive wine list and 3 rotating beers on tap from local breweries, the bar rolls out a seasonal cocktails list that will knock your socks off.
The ice alone is enough to give me goosebumps, as it is hand-harvested in huge cubes or shaved thinly to top off drinks like a snow cone mound. But the mixologists there are really talented, and they don’t mess around! They infuse their own liquor with unique ingredients (try Horseradish Vodka in their signature Bloody Marys and Peanut Butter Bourbon in the Honey Nut Old-Fashioned) and create their own house-made syrups from ingredients like chamomile or cinnamon bark.
They even have “beer cocktails” like this spring’s “Wild Orchid,” created by bartender Brady Weise, which is comprised of Pisco, White Vermouth, Grand Marnier, and Hefeweissen, thrown and served up with a wild orchid garnish.
Flaming garnishes are also common and an unforgettable presentation. I think my favorite cocktail this spring might be Garrett McKechnie’s “El Galgo,” or the Spanish Greyhound, which is made with Serrano chili-infused Chichicapa (a smokey single-village mezcal), homemade agave liquor, and white grapefruit juice. It is spicy, smoky, salty, and sweet, all at once. The combination of flavors is just sensational.
And if you’re hungry, there are plenty of gourmet gastro-pub style snacks you can share off the bar menu, like their famous Pork Belly, cured, pressed, & crisped, Griddled Cheese Sandwich with Taleggio and Jalapeño Jelly, or Grilled Octopus with pineapple, coconut, and ponzu.
If you come for Parlour Hour Monday-Friday between 5-7 pm, you will find a $4 beer, $5 glasses of house red and house white wine, a $6 champagne punch, and a $7 featured craft cocktail. During Parlour Hour, all food off the Bar Menu is $2 off. Honestly, what’s NOT to like about this place??
- I’ve been a fan of all that Andrea Vibe has accomplished over the years at VIBE. I just wish she could serve wine at the shows! What is your current class schedule there…and give us a contact number too!
I agree about the wine thing, however, since most of our performers are under age, it’s probably not appropriate! Therefore, we stick with cookies and lemonade or coffee as our refreshments after the concerts! However, I know that Andrea Vibe is a big supporter of Roman Holiday, which made it nice to work for both places.
I am proud to say that I have been teaching private voice and piano lessons, group keyboard classes, and Broadway Camps at Vibe for over 5 years now. I find teaching music to be very rewarding, especially when I get to see my students succeed onstage! I used to teach 4 days a week at Vibe, but since I recently moved to Pasadena, I have gone down to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Mondays and Thursdays, I am there from 3pm-7pm, and Wednesdays I primarily teach group keyboard classes from 4-7pm. My schedule is pretty booked up right now, but if anyone is interested, I would be happy to try and squeeze you in somewhere! The phone number for Vibe Performing Arts Studios is (661) 255-7464.
- I know that you’re still “on-call” at Roman Holiday Lounge and I also understand that there has been some other changes in management and personnel. What can wine drinkers that haven’t been there in awhile expect?
Yes, I am still on-call at Roman Holiday because I didn’t want to completely sever ties that I made there. I have had a lot of fun working at RH over the last 14 months, and made some very strong bonds with a lot of the staff, so I am happy that owner, Gunner Resendez, is allowing me to be on “On-Call” status.
As you know, the 64 different wines in the Argon-pressurized, self-serve Wine Station machines rotate on a pretty regular basis. This sometimes makes it difficult even for the staff to keep up, but you can always expect something new that you didn’t get to try the last time you were in! For the ladies who love sweet whites, we got a delicious new Moscato in recently called Allegro, and there is also the White Delight by our local Reyes Winery from Agua Dulce.
For those who love big bold, red blends, I can recommend the Big Easy, or Estrella Creek’s Stargazer, a smoky and jammy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petite Syrah. One of my all-time favorite red wines that we carry is the Farnese Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which has a nose reminiscent of smoked meats, yielding to a delicious, fruit-forward, yet well-balanced palate with a silky mouthfeel. The best Pinot Noir by far would have to be Chamisal.
And if you haven’t been to Roman Holiday in awhile, definitely check out the food menu—it has expanded to include pizzas, salads, petite paninis, and seasonal desserts.
If you’re dying for an outstanding cocktail from Roman Holiday on a day that I’m not there to make it for you, ask Ace to make you a Hot Berry Martini (he LOVES making those) or try my other favorites, the Basil Lime Gimlet or the Vanilla Sidecar. Btw, the Hot Berry Martini is easily one of the most laborious drinks to make. It requires muddling blackberries and jalapeños with Martin Miller Gin, Combier, and fresh lemon juice, and has so much pulp and seeds that it must be strained twice. Ace is totally going to kill me for recommending it! 😉 Just don’t order it on a busy Friday or Saturday night when he’s 10 cocktails deep. If Nicole is there, you should buy one for her. It’s her favorite cocktail.
- And, finally, tell readers where they can hear you sing now, or in the very near future!
I plan to take a little time off to focus on recording my solo material and finishing up the country record I’ve been making out of the songs my dad wrote and left to me before he passed away. If you are interested in keeping up with all my musical endeavors, and me please feel free to visit my website at www.brittneywestover.com.