By David Nelson / Photo by Paul Body
"I like being around people," he says. "Being around good company always pushes me."
The shirt blueprints the zany emulsion of laboratory science and artisan skills Chavez applies when crafting one-of-a-kind cocktails at the Gaslamp's Zymology 21, a new project by Leyla and Alex Javadov, the chef/owners behind Café 21 locations in the Gaslamp and North Park.
When Chavez straps on safety goggles and slips into heavy, black-rubber gloves to blend drinks in test tubes and chemistry lab cups, stand back - a blast of blazing booze is about to blow up. The result: the Resurrectionist, a signature tipple that, for all the "show," as he calls it, really tastes good.
Zymology is an applied science that studies processes of fermentation. Ergo, Chavez' tech is high and often involves blending liquor with "shrubs," fresh fruits and vegetables fermented in vinegar and sugar. If this sounds cutting-edge, it's not - Colonial America loved shrubs.
"I've had my hand in maybe 20 cocktail menus," says the 35-year-old Colorado native, who grew up in his parent's bars and restaurants and has been behind the bar for 15 years. "I like the creative aspect of bartending, I'm in my element. It's second nature to me."
Somewhat less natural (dry ice occurs naturally, but not on Earth) are Chavez' out-ofthis world concoctions, which seem to manifest as the molecular gastronomy of the spirit world.
On the back bar, Chavez keeps a magnetic mixer, which gently shakes cups filled with liquids, that, he says, "You don't want aerated. You don't want bubbles in them."
He could be talking about making chocolate mousse, and his answer to the question, "What would you do if you left bartending?" is unsurprising.
His eyes acquire a slight glow as he answers, "I think I'd like to be a chef."
750 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp