“Liquid Love Letters” From LA’s AAPI Bartenders

Sarah An and Chris Amirault at Art Beyond the Glass VII

Sarah An and Chris Amirault at Art Beyond the Glass VII | Photo by Eugene Lee

Organized by bartender Alyson Iwamoto (Thunderbolt, Death & Co), “Liquid Love Letters” is a fundraising event that highlights 10 AAPI bartenders from the Los Angeles bartending community – each one has contributed an original cocktail available for purchase by donation.

The participating bartenders are Cari Hah, Chris Amirault, Eugene Lee, Jodi Calderon, Harry Chin, Jason Yu, Jen Len, Joey Bernardo, Ken Lin, and Sarah An. Iwamoto said, “Every cocktail purchased raises money, but also reminds us that our story is important, and valued. The cocktail menu pays tribute to members of the AAPI community that are trailblazers, loved ones, role models, icons, and inspirations.”

"Hate Is A Virus" by Monica Chan

“Hate Is A Virus” by Monica Chan | Photo: Hate Is A Virus

Proceeds from the event will be donated to Hate is a Virus, a community of mobilizers and amplifiers dedicated to dismantling racism and other forms of hate. 90% of the money received in their CommUNITY Action Fund is distributed to local and national organizations, whose advocacy addresses long term and short term goals that uplift the AAPI community. 10% goes towards the resources utilized to maintain and run the Hate is a Virus organization. Their decision making panel will distribute funds to organizations addressing different community needs based upon urgency and impact.

“Our AAPI community is hurting right now.”

“Our community is hurting right now. Over the last year, the rise of reported hate crimes against the AAPI community has increased 150%, primarily due to the negative stereotyping of Asian Americans during the early rise of COVID-19 cases. The Model Minority Myth, the perpetual foreigner stereotype, the hyper-sexualization and fetishization of the Asian race, and xenophobic fear-mongering are all narratives about the AAPI community that are penned through White Supremacy. Fighting against this violence begins with reclaiming our narrative and telling our own story. When society doesn’t hold space for us, we have to create it. Representation matters. Visibility matters. Our stories matter.” 

The suggested donation for each bottle is $20 (2-3 servings), but people can contribute more than that. Those interested in supporting this AAPI community fundraiser can fill out the order form at Bear & Stone and will be instructed to Venmo payments to @BearandStone. Orders will be confirmed through Instagram.

The Liquid Love Letters are now available for pre-order through Wednesday, April 7. Cocktail orders will be available for pick up at Arts District Brewing in Downtown LA on Saturday, April 10 from 1pm – 4pm. For those unable to pick up, volunteers will deliver orders throughout LA.

Read on for cocktail ingredients and the people that inspired the Liquid Love Letters, as told by the all-star team of LA AAPI bartenders themselves.

Cari Hah by Eugene Lee

Cari Hah | Photo by Eugene Lee

Cari Hah – Stories For My Sister
Haku Vodka, Strawberry-Infused Campari, Nigori Sake, Strawberry Rose syrup, Yuzu Bitters, Lime
“To my older sister Sandy — She is my rock and my strength, the person who has always accepted me for who I am, and my biggest cheerleader. She believes in me when I have no belief in myself, always giving me the push to keep going no matter what. I have had a lot of difficulties in my life and a lot of reasons I should not be here still, but my sister literally has saved my life more than once and I owe her everything. Thank you for all your love and support, and for giving me 3 amazing reasons to live: Xander, Jordy and Maya. I love being their auntie almost as much as I love being your sister.”

Chris Amirault by Eugene Lee

Chris Amirault | Photo by Eugene Lee

Chris Amirault – Po’s House
Sipsmith Gin, Magnolia Blossom Oolong, Pineapple Campari, Sweet Vermouth, MSG Tincture
“To my Po Po, who guarded me like a tiger mom, inspired my insatiable appetite, and raised me to be the man I am today. The three components in this cocktail are relics that remind me of visiting my Grandmother’s house. Oolong tea always brewing, something savory was working on the stove next to a box of MSG, and I’d always beg her to cut up some pineapple for me to eat as I waited as patiently as I could for her meals. I never got to make her a cocktail, but she would always tell me how proud she was of me. This one is for you Po Po.”

Eugene Lee

Eugene Lee | Photo by Julie Bersani

Eugene Lee – Summer of Harmony (and Hadabogee)
Knob Creek Rye 100, Honeydew Milk, Barley Tea
“To my Harmony (grandmother) and Hadabogee (grandfather) and the summers my brother and I spent with them in Korea. My grandmother’s daily trips to the market would always end with a sweet treat – usually a popsicle – my favorite was called Melona, a milky honeydew popsicle. My grandfather had the ritual of savoring exactly one shot glass worth of whatever whiskey my Dad sent us to Korea with. Eventually, when I matured to 10yrs old, he’d give me a little sip. Thus my love of whiskey was born. The cocktail I made embraces my summers with Harmony and Hadabogee. It’s a simple pleasure and sweet memories.”

Harry Chin at Here's Looking At You

Harry Chin | Photo: @hereslookingatyoula

Harry Chin – Auntie & Uncle
Toki Whisky, Knob Creek Rye, Peanut Butter Stout Syrup, Amaro Sfumato, Orange Bitters **Allergies: Peanut, Gluten, Dairy
“This is an Elder-Fashioned cocktail variation named after honorifics that convey respect and endearment to my elders. The ingredients in this cocktail are inspired by the many things the Aunties and Uncles in my life enjoy(ed).”

Jason Yu by Eugene Lee

Jason Yu | Photo by Eugene Lee

Jason Yu – Roses From Kathy
Haku Vodka, European Rose Tea, Vanilla Foam, Lemon, Lime
“To my mother Kathy: Love in the form of roses in care packages to me, and in cocktails to you. Cheers to our health.”

Jen Len by Eugene Lee

Jen Len | Photo by Eugene Lee

Jen Len – Lai With You
El Tesoro Blanco Tequila, Blueberry, Yuzu, Cinnamon, Lemon, Pineapple
“I didn’t know I had extended family in the Bay Area until I was well into my adulthood. Even barely knowing them, they took us in during my mom’s battle with cancer in SF. This drink is a bit of me missing California produce and expressing my gratitude to my Lai family, especially Uncle George who while graciously caring for us also designed a Black Lives Matter shirt in Chinese and marched around SF Chinatown by himself to show that he would fight against hate of any kind.”

Jodi Calderon by Eugene Lee

Jodi Calderon | Photo by Eugene Lee

Jodi Calderon – Lola Valor
Pandan-Infused Maker’s Mark Private Select Bourbon, Campari, Velvet Falernum, Bianco Vermouth
“Tipping my bun to my Lola, without whom my family wouldn’t be here. This aromatic and earthy cocktail, red in homage to the courage represented in the Philippine flag, is a grounding testament to all of the Lola’s and Lolo’s whose courage to flourish in other lands planted deep roots for generations to come. Salamat Po!”

Joey Bernardo by Eugene Lee

Joey Bernardo | Photo by Eugene Lee

Joey Bernardo – Island Sunshine
Sipsmith Gin, Liquid Alchemist Passion Fruit, Golden Hawaiian Papaya, Melon Liqueur, Lemon Juice
“To Devon Espinosa: since I moved to LA he was one of the more chef-minded bartenders I’ve met. He is a proper master of ceremonies, an inspiration to watch and can host a hell of a party, not to mention he also has a natural proclivity for opening amazing bar programs. A TRUE Drinksman.”

Ken Lin at Bavel

Ken Lin | Photo: @khoihathuc

Ken Lin – Sunday Bistro
Black Tea-infused Toki Whisky, Amaro Angeleno, Lemon Cordial, Honey, Lemon Juice
“To Martin Yan: The O.G. Chinese-American cooking TV personality. Watching his show was like watching our immigrant father-chef cook on TV. Martin Yan brought Chinese cooking technique to the American public consciousness, and showed us that if ‘Yan Can Cook’, so can we.”

Sarah An by Eugene Lee

Sarah An | Photo by Eugene Lee

Sarah An – 18 Kick Fantasies
El Tesoro Blanco Tequila, Aperol, Yujacha, Jeju Mandarin, Lime Acid, Chilsung Cider *Gochugaru & Sesame salt (for a little rimmy shimmy)
“The words “fuck” and “18” sound very similar in Korean, so the play on words “18 Kick” would be “Fucking Kick” – which is meant to describe drop-kicking someone. “18 Kick Fantasies” is what comes to mind when I think about the Model Minority Myth mentality, and the fetishization of Asian Women.”

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