Let me take this first post in almost one month to deliver some pertinent upcoming event news. It’s now summer and thus, event season, here in sunny Southern California. Now that I’ve somewhat psychologically recovered from a huge picture-data dump from spilling a homemade cocktail all over my non-backed-up laptop, I’m finally ready to move into this crazy part of the year.
So here’s a rebirth of sorts; it’s an intentional start to the summer by tallying up the essential food events continuing into the fall (L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is in September). One focuses on cocktails. One focuses on tacos. One focuses on ribs. Three are on the same day; thus, yes – I do wish that these were spread out, more. But practically all of them feature world-class chefs. So without further adieu, here’s where you need to be this summer:
As we all well know, cocktails are an art. But that doesn’t mean that many of the Los Angeles bartenders aren’t multi-talented, with abilities that reach far beyond the bar.
And for the second time this June 30th, dozens of LA’s top bartenders will gather for Art Beyond the Glass II, a fundraising event with, of course, cocktails, but also art, music and more – all entirely created and performed by bartenders. This year’s event will be at the exclusive, members-only Los Angeles Athletic Club’s new bar, Invention.
L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade, for my third year in attendance, remains one of my favorite food events. The original idea of Alex’s Lemonade arose out of a courageous four-year-old’s battle with neuroblastoma and her desire to donate the proceeds of her lemonade stand to doctors who have helped her. Childhood cancer strikes a chord personally, as my first born nephew was diagnosed with Acute lymphocytic leukemia at the age of 1 1/2. Thanks to treatment and some faith, he’s now entering his teen years as a survivor. Of course, more research needs to be done.
I remember the anticipation we all felt when the Baja chefs came to Street Food Fest at the Rose Bowl in the summer of 2011. It was just the ingredient needed to take the festival to a new level. Not only would we be having access to some of the best street food in LA at one place, we’d also be experiencing the best of Baja.
Thanks to Reverse Coyote Bill Esparza, there’s been quite a bit of sharing going on across the California-Mexico border. We Angelenos get to reap the benefits at Playa, the playground of Sedlar’s latest experimentation. As he is currently changing the menus here, we’ll get to go straight to the sources of his inspiration thanks to this series.
Cue the installment going on now, starting with Sabina Bandera Gonzales of La Guerrerense, who will be cooking with Chef Sedlar now until tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18th – though the menus for each installment will actually be available all week long. Sabina brings dishes her top seafood stand seasoned with a variety of unique salsas. A la carte menu items are $5-$18 and include:
We already know that our favorite Los Angeles bartenders are some of the most talented and artistic set in the city. And no, I’m not talking about constraining service employees to that stereotypical archetype of actor-actress, though I know how easy it is for you, the all-knowing Angeleno, to do so.
I’m talking about painting, photography, graffiti art, classical piano, DJing, and…who knows what else? There is plenty more in-store and ready to surprise you. All talents will be on display with no holds barred (even a surprise performance by Aidan Demarest and Marcos Tello) at the inaugural Art Beyond the Glass this upcoming Sunday. It’s an afternoon-to-evening curated by famous cocktail blogger Daniel Djang of Thirsty in LA and superstar mixologist and bar manager Zahra Bates of Providence, and what better place to do it than at Sadie Restaurant with food by Mark Gold? Mark this down as the definitive Los Angeles’s cocktail event, which brings together those sharing a beautiful artistry to showcase their artistry in all other areas.
Anxious to see just whose art, exactly, will be on display? Never fear. And those who will actually be behind the stick (an art in and of itself) are denoted with a (*):
Rich Andreoli (*), Mia Sarazen (* & photography) – Areal
Matt Biancaniello (*) – Library Bar at The Roosevelt
Chris Bostick – The former GM of The Varnish has graciously donated a couple of his graphic prints to display at Art Beyond The Glass.
Brian Butler (* & art display) – Sunny Spot, A-Frame
Julian Cox (*) – Picca, Playa, Rivera, Short Order, Sotto
Edwin Cruz (*) – Tlapazola Grill
Allan Katz (DJ), Angela Gomez (*) – Caña
Eugene Lee (* & photography), Dan Long and Rosie Ruiz (*) – Big Bar at Alcove
Lil’ Twisted Sangrita ft. Cari Hah (*) – Neat, & Jaymee Mandeville (*) – Drago Centro
Laura Lindsay (Live Music Performance) – Providence
Steve Livigni (DJ), Pablo Moix (Street Art – Live Graffiti), Dave Fernie (DJ), Lindsay Nader (* & Live Performance) – Harvard & Stone, La Descarga, Pour Vous
Joshua Lucas (Magic Show) – The Writer’s Room
Live Performance by Mad Planet featuring Cooper Gillespie and MonicaOlive (Thirsty Crow), Tony Crouse (Broadway Bar), Greg Gordon (supperclub)
Giovanni Martinez, Greg Bryson (*) – Sadie
China Morbosa (Artist) – Eveleigh
Chris Ojeda, Mia Mastroianni (*) – Soho House
Justin Pike (* & Artist) – The Tasting Kitchen
Jason Schiffer (*) – 320 Main
Naomi Schimek, Diana Gettinger (Both DJing)– The Spare Room
Erik Trickett (Live Piano Performance) – Roe Restaurant & Fish Market
Kylee Van Dillen, Dan McClary (*) – Westside Tavern
Daniel Zacharczuk (*), Ricky Yarnall (Artist) – Bar|Kitchen
The best part is that 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales, artwork sales and T-shirt sales (limited edition silkscreened t-shirts by Seven Grand’s Angus McShane, that is) will be donated to Inner City Arts. It’s a fabulous non-profit organization dedicated to the arts instruction of at-risk youth on LA’s skid row, making their futures ever brighter, artistic and promising. (And that is all possible thanks to sponsors like Infinium Spirits, Karlsson’s Vodka, Sailor Jerry, Becherovka, Campari Gruppo, Java Juice, Atlantico Rum, Akvinta Vodka, St. George Spirits, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Henry Wine Group, 123 Tequila and additional sponsorship and support provided by dineLA and smartwater. So be sure to be on the lookout for those spirits in your favorite cocktails.)
Art, music, cocktails and a great cause: There’s really no reason not to buy your ticket now, is there? I’ll see you on the flip side.
If you were to hear that the guys behind La Descarga are opening up a new bar, it’s high time to put the opening of said bar on your calendar. So, that’s what I did. I was happy to find out in the process that Harvard & Stone is the next-best thing to walking distance from my digs; it’s two Metro stops and a skip away. And when I visited the WWII-esque barÂ last night for the opening, I found out it’s actually across the street from Sanamluang – thatÂ Thai establishment holding remnants of collegeÂ nostalgia andÂ my go-to place for Pad Kee Mow. It’s also open until 3 AM.
I see cocktails and late-night Thai food in my near future.
Back to Harvard & Stone, so-named after the intersection of Harvard and its stone exterior on Hollywood Boulevard: It’s a beautiful space. Though Steve Livigni corrected me about the decor: “Oh, it’s contrived,” I offered that it did a great job pretending that it wasn’t (it’s all in theÂ incandescent lighting). He finally agreed. The distressed walls with exposed brick frame a centralized, rectangular front bar lined with old, hanging metal shelves suspended by chain links. Liquor bottles artfully sit atop them while glasswares hang below. Antique pieces likeÂ obsolete, rusty machinery and light bulbsÂ are scattered along the bar and in display cases on the inside wall. High-top, metal tables with rusty rivets line those cases, should cocktailers want to be near the action but not right in it. By the door is a stage on which Livigni welcomes bands to perform should the “impromptu show” mood strike. Keep an eye on this place for any post-show after-parties. Before Harvard & Stone, industrial never seemed so hip.
In the back corner is an old, rusticÂ fireplace where guests can crowd around and across the way, a private room partitioned off by antiqued, double sliding doors. And I can’t wait to peep the balcony, which wasn’t ready for the opening, but which also extends into the back “Test Kitchen” bar area which is half-open and coded for smoking. (Fortunately, there’s also a dedicated, narrow outdoor smoking patio, Eastside bar-style, for the committed smokers.)
But, oh…that Test Kitchen bar in the back! Every month, a certain spirit (February: Whiskey, March: Gin) will be featured in the cocktails on its unique menu, which is to change daily. Whatever the spirit, American distillates are the focus. According to Caroline on Crack in her LA Weekly Squid Ink article, this bar will also “stock a small menu of tequila, cognac and rum as well as recognizable brands.” For now, you can count on Elijah Craig, Fighting Cock and Evan WilliamsÂ Bourbon to be stocked here.
The cocktail menu earns its Eastside cred with an Appletini Apple Martini made with Original Moonshine (apple syrup, lemon juice, whiskey barrel bitters). If using Moonshine to formulate a normally fru-fru, girlyÂ cocktail isn’t hipster, I don’t know what is (try: being a block away from Jumbo’s Clown Room). You also have a lot of other cocktails to look forward to if you go in the near future – not discounting their inevitably delicious successors, of course. Steve also said that the menu will likely double in size once they get the opening kinks out.
Baby’s First Bourbon: Bulleit Bourbon, St. Vincents Orgeat Syrup, lemon juice, dash of Angostura bitters
The cocktails are all $8-11 each, which, for the ingredients and labor involved, is a steal once you taste your drink (all delicious on opening night).Â I’m hard-pressed to name another mixology bar that charges less than $12 per cocktail off their regular menu.
So Eastsiders: Rejoice! Harvard & Stone is open for business. You never know what cocktails are in store for you on the back bar menu nor if a band will drop by and play a surprise show. It’s just the place to enjoy a great cocktail in an industrial-chic setting, without the attitude. I cannot wait to make this my neighborhood spot.
Harvard & Stone 5221 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027 323.466.6063