'Drink, Inc.' Hosts Steve Livigni and Daniel K. Nelson Take THR's Taste Test

Steve Livigni and Daniel K. Nelson

The pair behind the webisode series about creative cocktailing -- airing now on Ben Silverman’s new food-focused YouTube channel Hungry -- talk octopus tentacles, kimchi, Guadalajaran sandwiches and more.

Steve Livigni and Daniel K. Nelson helped pioneer L.A.’s mixology movement several years ago at now-defunct downtown den of liquidity The Doheny. These days, Nelson runs the bar at the Writer’s Room in Hollywood, while Livigni is responsible for crafting drink menus everywhere from La Descarga to Blue Cow Kitchen.

The dapper duo, who are the first to self-deprecatingly dismiss the excesses of contemporary cocktail culture (they recently starred in a video parodying the scene), are now the hosts of Drink, Inc., in which they visit varied locales (the fish market in San Pedro, the notoriously spicy Thai restaurant Jitlada) in search of inspiration for new libations.


Current Fixation
Livigni: “Sea urchin.”
Nelson: “Torta Ahogada, this amazing sandwich indigenous to Guadalajara. It consists of roast pork stuffed inside a tough roll, covered in unbelievably spicy chile de arbol sauce. Hard to find in L.A. but there are a few standouts, including Cook’s Tortas in Monterey Park.”

Known for Cooking
Livigni: “The best guacamole in L.A.”
Nelson: “Whole animals: pig, goat, lamb. I own a La Caja China and roast whole animals a few times a year. We broke down a whole swine at The Village Idiot on Melrose for our next episode and created original pork-inspired cocktails. It was amazing.”

Destination Dinner
Livigni: “Urasawa.”
Nelson: “Visit Buenos Aires and Francis Mallmann's Restaurante 1884. After an unparallelled dinner, I would expect an invite to roast a whole steer at his Patagonia ranch.”

Go-to Take-out
Livigni: “Dino’s Burgers for Pollo Maniaco.”
Nelson: “Dino’s Burgers. Nobody orders the burger. Order the chicken plate con mucho jugo.” The garlic/oregano/vinegar marinade soaks into the fresh fries for deliciousness.”

Adventurous Bite
Livigni: “Silk worms and live octopus tentacles.”
Nelson: “Balut: Filipino traditional fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in its shell. Weird sounding, weird tasting.”

Simply Won’t Eat
Livigni: “Beans — kidney, white, fava.”
Nelson: “Doesn’t exist. I really will try anything once.”

Favorite Snack
Livigni: “Chips and salsa.”
Nelson: “Kimchi.”

Dietary Regimen
Livigni: “Latte from Cafecito Organico around 11; ramen, Larchmont Larder or Zankou for lunch around 2; tacos, torta or burrito around 7; cereal or burrito at around 3am. Coconut water all throughout the day.”
Nelson: “Beer and beer.”

Preferred Company
Livigni: "My girlfriend Janna, followed by my friend Mitch Goodman."
Nelson: "Whiskey drinkers."

Pet Peeve
Livigni: “Cleaning up after cooking at home. Dishes coming out too fast when eating out.”
Nelson: “Truffle oil. It’s not actually truffle anyway. It’s like a young chef’s crutch. Thankfully, it’s not as prevalent as five years ago.”

Embarrassing Experience
Livigni: “Showing up at restaurants when they are closed. Seems to happen to me all the time.”
Nelson: “I shook a cocktail containing blueberries and got a little too into the shaking. Somehow the tins exploded…all over the guest and me. Not fun.”

Guilty Pleasure
Livigni: “Those little ‘limon’ salt and pepper packets, plus raw bacon. I have a problem with salty things.”
Nelson: “Bacon-wrapped hot dogs.”

Last Meal
Livigni: “Provence, lots of friends, outside, wine, pastis, meats and lots of cheese.”
Nelson: “Providence, Providence, Providence. It’s the best restaurant in Los Angeles, hands down.”