My name is Lucas Assis, I’m 33 years old, and I have the tendency to get a little obsessed with things. Not in a weird way, but in the I’ve-been-bartending-in-LA-for-over-ten-years-and-love-what-I-do way. Let me explain.
When I first began bartending at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, whiskey was all of the craze in LA. I was naturally curious to learn more about the hype—the story—behind every bottle. As I learned more about the history behind every whiskey, I realized that you can’t talk about American history without its whiskey.
That very obsession is also what piqued my interest in crafting cocktails. While I’ve always loved making cocktails, what truly makes creating cocktails a craft is understanding who made the cocktail and that person’s motivation for doing so. This interest, coupled with my love for traveling, led me to bartending—a job that allows me to explore both of these obsessions.
In the midst of bartending, traveling, and exploring cocktails, I met my wife, Michelle Bañuelos, whose parents are from Mexico. As you may have assumed, every gathering with her family featured tequila (a lot of it). You probably know where I’m going here.
Naturally, I would try each type of expression. Admittedly, the bottles I first tried were not the best, but everyone has to start somewhere. Quickly, I once again became obsessed.
Soon, I was like a sponge. I didn’t just want to soak up the tequila. I wanted to soak up all of the tequila-related knowledge I could.
As I began to learn about the production and history of tequila, I realized that the distillation of tequila most likely began in what is now western Mexico in the states of Colima and Jalisco. In other words, just as you cannot write American history without its whiskey, you cannot even begin to speak about Mexico’s history without Mezcal.
(For those of you new to this whole tequila thing, It can get a little complicated but mezcal can be registered in 9 or 10 states in Mexico depending on who you ask and if Sinaloa is included in the Domination of Origin or not. For me personally, if it’s distilled from agave and made in Mexico it’s a mezcal. . Since all tequila is made with agave, all tequila is mezcal. As the saying goes… every tequila is a Mezcal but not every mezcal is a tequila. You have to start somewhere!
By surrounding myself with agave ambassadors and enthusiasts and seeing first hand how its all made,, my perspective on the artistry that is making agave spirits and how complex that process is, shifted. I discovered how the slightest production methods play such a huge role in the finished product. I knew what made a tequila good, and that knowledge propelled my interest even further.
Then COVID hit.
For the first few weeks, I didn’t really know what to do. Like the rest of LA, and really the rest of the world, I was clueless about what was to come.
Soon, my regular customers at the bar at which I worked reached out to me and told me they missed me, and more importantly, my drinks. After a few inquiries, I decided I would continue learning about and crafting cocktails for these regular customers. Luckily for me, LA streets had no traffic (a dramatic change), and I could deliver the cocktails to the doorsteps of each regular.
The operation started small, but then customers became obsessed, a concept I was far too familiar with. As they spread the word to their friends and those people began to reach out, I decided to channel all communication on my personal Instagram account. I would post a drink menu on my account and take orders from there.
As the city started to crack down on COVID, I decided to end my drink delivery service to avoid any trouble. I continued to use Instagram, this time to share the stories and the history behind each cocktail. If I couldn’t deliver drinks, I could at least deliver the significance behind each one.
Around that time, a friend of mine noted how much traction my posts were getting, and recommended I carry the posts over to TikTok. I mistook the app as a place where teenagers posted dances I was too old for but reluctantly gave in after she shared some of the content other bartenders were posting on the app.
In addition to Sip and Outsider, that’s where you’ll find me now. I never expected to have over 200 views on a TikTok, let alone over 200 thousand followers, but I hope you’ll tag along to learn with me about craft spirits, cocktails, and the stories that go into each sip.