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Cocktails for your taste profile

By Mike Love, CNN
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Cocktail professor mixes up new drink
  • Bartender matches customer taste profiles with fresh ingredients and alcohol
  • Matt Biancaniello makes his drinks "Omakase" style
  • The "Sage Advice" drink which Biancaniello describes as a "bourbon smoothie"
  • His bar is lined with fresh fruit and herbs he buys at local farmers markets

Los Angeles (CNN) -- You are at the mercy of bartender Matt Biancaniello when you order a drink at the Library Bar in Hollywood's famous Roosevelt Hotel.

Biancaniello makes his drinks "Omakase" style -- a Japanese term that means the customer and bartender work together to make a special experience. The customer details his or her flavor profile and the bartender chooses all the ingredients and the alcohol to complement them.

"The way that we work now is we don't have a cocktail menu. I wanted the customer to have that personal experience. I'll say to them, 'What kind of flavors do you like?' and make a drink based on what they tell me."

The self-taught bartender, who has been mixing professionally for two years, loves to make drinks that people can talk about. Drinks like the "Penicillin" and the "Kentucky Breeder."

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Biancaniello says he came up with the idea of making special drinks because the hotel was charging $15 for ordinary drinks and he didn't think they were worth the price.

Now his bar is covered with all kinds of fruits and herbs that surprise new customers, who ask him what he does with all the stuff. Then they get to watch him match a range of ingredients to their specific tastes.

Biancaniello picks up only the freshest and best ingredients at local farmers markets. He had been buying the ingredients with his own money until his bosses tasted his special drinks and decided the hotel would pick up the tab for the produce.

Patrons love the unusually named drinks, like the "Sage Advice," which Biancaniello describes as a "bourbon smoothie."

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Then there is the "Mother Mary," which is a 17-step Bloody Mary in which Biancaniello "muddles every herb that I can." The end result is something that is too good to believe.

"You could drink this drink all night long," said patron Liz Dunn. "So if you're having one drink, this is perfect."

Biancaniello serves his drinks in a very special spot. The Library Bar is right across the hall from where the first Academy Awards took place in 1929 -- in a ceremony that took all of five minutes.

Named after President Theodore Roosevelt and originally partly owned by actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, the hotel was built to house East Coast movie industry people working in Hollywood.

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Thompson Hotels spokesman Jason Pomeranc said certain rooms are still haunted. "Marilyn Monroe's ghost sometimes appears in room 246 on windy nights."

The hotel was refurbished in the 1980s and has become a hot spot for Hollywood's hip young actors. TV shows such as "Entourage" have filmed there.

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