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HOLLYWOOD DAZE is a place to discover (and re-discover) the great City of Hollywood. We like cocktails, creativity, shopping, and little events that pop up spontaneously, art and all things culture, intense fitness but also cheeseburgers — we assume you do too.

Join us on our mission to unearth all the wonderful secrets that Hollywood keeps, as well as the pop songs it sings aloud.

6 February, 2019 Hollywood Luminaries: Mike Gotovac, Veteran Bartender of Dan Tana

Image Courtesy of LAWeekly

Hollywood, like a modern-day Rome, is made up of layers and layers of history, all of it anchored by the siren call of the West Coast and the movies. As befits a place whose growth depends in large part on its unusual lure for visionaries and dreamers, it's only natural that this extraordinary population is evident everywhere around the neighborhood. Living at El Centro means living in a place where bell boys and waiters have both served megastars and also become them, and where bartenders, like Mike Gotovac of Dan Tana's, have been slinging martinis for 50 years to a living historical timeline of who's who in Hollywood.

Dan Tana’s is a neighborhood favorite: so much more than a red sauce joint, it straddles Hollywood past and present and features a bar whose bartender is quite possibly just as much of a draw as the drinks. It seemed only right that Gotovac would be the first in our series exploring these could-be-a-biopic neighborhood personalities. His story begins with an arrival from Eastern Europe to a world where a legend like Harry Dean Stanton taught him how to mix a perfect martini and set the tone for a lifetime of first-hand Hollywood life as it happens day to day (and night) in the city itself—and particularly in the neighborhood around El Centro. This is a place that is always reincarnating itself as the next big star always does while paying homage to what has made Hollywood what it is.

When Vice chose to interview Gotovac for their “Last Call” barkeeper interview series, they knew they were tapping not just into the life of a bar, but into the soul of a neighborhood. Part of what makes Gotovac such a wealth of information is the privilege of his perch behind a bar where 50 years of locals—famous, infamous, and otherwise—have told their secrets and revealed their drink-softened personalities. Of Stanton, Gotovac says, "Harry Dean Stanton. He was my favorite. He used to come here all the time. Actually, he’s the one who taught me how to make most of the drinks. Whenever he came in, and I was working, we’d take a shot together."

Gotovac's Hollywood is glamorous, peopled with everyone from Robert Mitchum to Clint Eastwood, but it's also a testament to the fact that when the tinsel is stripped away, the real Hollywood is much more interesting. It's talking to people like Gotovac that makes it clear that Hollywood as a place to live is just as fascinating as its silver screen persona—and the people who live and work here have created the town just as much as the town has made them.

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