Behind the Bar with Ken Gray, Bartender Extraordinaire at Fishing with Dynamite

It's true. I spend most of my time and energy focused on food. And although I don't always talk about cocktails, they are often a very important component to any meal. Luckily, the LA restaurant scene is filled with many amazing bars backed by some of the most talented mixologists (too pretentious??) in the country. Whether you are looking for one of the classics or something completely new - we've got it all. 

Enter Ken Gray. Not too long ago, we had the opportunity to sit down with Ken at Fishing with Dynamite, where he has been crafting cocktails since day one. After four and a half years behind their bar, many of the Manhattan Beach locals only stop by when they see his smiling face through the window. They know, as we do now, that hanging out with Ken is always a good time. 

 
IMG_3351.jpg
 

Four and a half years is a long time! What's is your favorite part about working here?  
I love how small and intimate it is, creating a VERY personal experience and helps me develop a personal relationship with our guests. A human connection. Things tend to taste and smell better when it feels like you're in the caring home of a long time friend.

Love that! Do you have a favorite cocktail on the menu? 
That's tough, they're like our children. We, the bar crew, puts so much time and effort into each and every one. I like to drink based on my mood I guess hahaha. If I had to pick just one, The Ghost of Tom Jodd. Such a cool story behind the name, lots of soul. It's the perfect storm of aromatic and refreshing. You smell the rich cascara husks, you taste the savory amaro and whiskey then the finish is so light and playful. Love that drink!

We could go for one of those. Do you have go-to drinks when you are away from Fishing with Dynamite?
I've got a few go-to's! I love a good "Bang-Bang". A fancy way to say a Coors Original and a side shot of bullit bourbon (Silver bullet, bullit whiskey... hence "bang-bang"). I get that from my Father. That was his favorite drink. If I want to be fancy, I get a plantation pineapple rum Daiquiri. So simple and refreshing. (rum, sugar and lime!)

IMG_3825.jpg
IMG_3852 2.jpg

And where are you typically ordering these "Bang-Bang"s? Do you have a favorite bar in LA?Hmmm... Another tough one. If I lived closer, I could spend three nights a week at Brack Shop Tavern downtown. the GM Mike Santos has really put together a killer spot. Very low key but elevated service. GREAT cocktails and solid solid food. They care. If I'm on the west side, you'll find me on Monday's at Old Lightning in Venice. Pablo has done a killer job at creating a very intimate vibe with the BEST whiskey selection. The bartender, Niko Novick, really cares and serves with humility and charm. 

And when you're not there? 
Being in front of people all day 5 days a week some times I like to just go on what I call walk-a-bout. I turn my phone off and just go to a random part of our awesome city. If I were to have a final destination, I really love "Old Man Bar" in Culver City (Hatchet Hall). Lot of great memories there with friends and loved ones. Plus they serve a mean Bang Bang! I do however LOVE to support Local so I go see Love & Salt, Darrens...

Any insider tips about Fishing with Dynamite?
Be open minded about experiencing the whole menu. For example, if you do the PEI mussels, ya gotta do it with the squash rolls! Try the scallops with out a doubt! They're like eating a mimosa! And trust the staff, They really care about your personally tailored experience and can help you pair with wine, cocktails, beer, satisfying your stomach AND soul.

IMG_3864 2.jpg

You can visit Fishing with Dynamite Monday - Friday 11:30am - 10:00pm and Saturday - Sunday 10am - 10:30pm. From raw bar to cocktail bar, it is difficult to go wrong. We highly recommend stopping by for brunch on Saturday or Sunday and sipping on a Moon of Faith with a side of crab benedict and squash rolls. Don't forget to start with an order of Peruvian scallops!