It’s no secret that Drago Centro is one of my favorite places to drink and eat. And then drink, again. But it just wouldn’t be the same without Jaymee Mandeville at the helm of each seasonal cocktail menu. And the latest is a doozy. It’s inspirational with each cocktail proving their point of view and collectively, it’s her strongest menu yet. Though there’s diversity, each drink is well-balanced, with many even evolving through the end of each sip.
I’ve made some notes, with a pictorial at the bottom to aid you. So get thee to Drago Centro.
Tonight, Drago Centro will unveil their Spring cocktail menu and it’s a pretty exciting one to boot. Ten new signature drinks by Jaymee Mandeville and Jen Len are available tonight for $8 each. There were 3 in particular that I fell in love with, which I feel compelled to share here.
Since I’m partial to Negronis, the Nebbia Rossa (that is, red hog in Italian) is a nice spin on one with a smoky kick. This cocktail has Del Maguey Vida Mezcal to thank for its slight peaty notes, but the drink is also so well balanced that it’s not the first thing you will notice. The drink also has Campari, Bittermens Citron Sauvage and Dolin Blanc and to be honest – this is probably the drink of which I would have ordered another, if only I didn’t have all the others to try… If you can’t decide between an aperitif and digestif, you won’t ever have to make up your mind with the Nebbia Rossa.
Another favorite of mine was the Ver La Luz Del Dia, made with Kappa Pisco, Lillet Blanc, Hangar vodka, Bombay Sapphier and basil. It’s a completely aromatic drink and, contrary to its appearance, not to be passed off as a light drink. It’s beautifully strong in girth yet nuanced in flavor. A really sophisticated drink for those who love their spirits.
The Night and the City is a kind of avant garde Bloody Mary – both in color, presentation and taste. Made with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (I’ve always loved gin instead of vodka in my Bloody Marys, anyway), Bittermens Hellfire, Miracle Mile Candy Cap Mushroom Bitters, Heirloom Tomato Shrub, black pepper and squid ink syrup & freshly grated horseradish, the Night and the City gives off this savoryness that duels perfectly with its pickled radish garnish. The candy cap mushroom bitters were absolutely delicious. While some may shy away from the color of the liquids, the taste of the cocktail itself was enough to make me turn those sips over in my mouth until none was left. Prepare to reconsider the standard Bloody Mary like you never have, before.
So head to downtown LA tonight to try a few of these favorites off the new Spring cocktail menu. Order some pork cracklins, flatbreads and/or oysters while you’re at it – the bar bites at Drago are legit.
All cocktails were hosted.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
$8 on preview night
$12 all other times
Drago Centro 525 S. Flower Street Los Angeles, CA 90071 213.228.8998
There’s something really exciting going on behind the bar at a certain restaurant in Downtown LA. No, it’s not the craftiness of a Michael Shearin, who has since left for a brand ambassador position – but the hardly rookie beginnings of Jaymee Mandeville as dreamer of the newest winter cocktail menu at Drago Centro.
It’s a menu that has really good range, while at the same time having solid representations in each corner. To be honest, there was only one of ten cocktails on the list that I disliked and over a handful that I would easily order for my friends on recommendation of the spirit they preferred or myself based on that day’s mood. There were even more cocktails I was excited about than I shared an indifferent opinion about.
For instance, the Bols Genever-based Rode Duvel lived up to the high expectations I had for it. It’s enhanced with St. Maria Al Monte Amaro, which is a more bitter amaro and goes so well with the Bols and Miracle Mile Sour Cherry bitters. Be sure not to ignore the dried cherry garnish, as your drink only tastes better paired with each bite of the skewer. It was quite the cocktail to reinforce my love of Bols.
For that friend who may shame you by ordering that Cosmopolitan, order him/her a Grimhilda instead. Made with Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Parma, Housemade Chipotle Infused Honey and lemon, its sugar rim is actually an asset and not an obstruction to the cocktail (it has just enough). The chipotle honey does enough to help keep its sugary profile intact but interesting, and you may just wow that craving for cranberry out of your friend.
The every man’s fizzy cocktail would have to be Fated Seeds. This is a cocktail that’s sure to convert former gin avoiders. Persimmons in this cocktail were practically pickled and given a sort of vinegared acidity, without which would’ve made the persimmons evaporate. The basil shrub was a nice aromatic note while a soda topping gave it its effervescence.
An unexpected favorite of the night was the Western All’italiana, made with High West Double Rye, Cointreau, St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram, cranberry and oregano infused molasses, and a Gala apple peel garnish. The cocktail really showcases the all spice, cranberry and oregano beautifully. Of course, it goes without saying that I will ever have the double rye in my corner – so while it gets more than its fair shake, I have to stress that all the infused flavors do well to complement.
The Breaking Castagne is Drago’s winter egg nog – only better. The VSOP gives it that warmth and the mezcal just the right amount of smokyness, but the chestnut syrup is, of course, the real, winter-y centerpiece here.
And then there were the drinks that steadfastly held their corner. The Dead Man’s Tale is the menu’s tiki drink and a play on the Fog Cutter – made with Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum, Bombay Dry Gin, Bertagnolli Grappa, Oloroso Sherry, Bietterman’s Amer Nouvelle, St. Vincent’s Orgeat, lemon, orange and Galliano mist. It was delicious, even though tiki drinks aren’t usually my go-to.
The Remedy X holds its own as the ginger lovers’ cocktail. Made with rosemary infused Bushmill’s Blackbush Irish Whiskey, ginger infused agave and lemon – the rosemary gave this drink a nice, floral twist. And of course, it had the essential candied ginger garnish.
The spicy cocktail of the bunch is the silver Screen Quotations, made with 123 Organic Blanco Tequila, housemade thai chili/cinnamon syrup, red bell pepper, mint, lime and saffron salt. The mint is a nice, aromatic twist that gives the whole cocktail a refreshing take.
But if you’re looking for that quintessential, surprise-me hot toddy, look no further than Eve’s Demise, made with Black Grouse Scotch, Belle de Brillet Pear Cognac, housemade hibiscus apple cider (mmm) and maple syrup. The delicious garnish alone deserves its own double take, but I honestly had a hard time putting this cute little jar-encased hot sipper down.
Fortunately, you can taste all of these tonight at the winter menu cocktail launch for $8 each. Bring the gang, since there’s a drink on the menu for everyone. This delicious menu is sure to delight and satiate your craving for that perfect winter cocktail.
Winter cocktail menu tasting was hosted.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
6 PM – Close: $8 each
$12 each all other times
Drago Centro 525 S. Flower Street Los Angeles, CA 90071 213.228.8998
Heads up! It’s that time, again. Time to try out Michael Shearin’s brand new cocktails for $8 a pop (regularly $12). It happens tonight after 5 PM at Drago Centro in Downtown Los Angeles. Here’s a peep at the menu before you go:
Unbridled â€“ Applejack, Green Chartreuse, Lime, Simple Syrup, Mint
The Watcher in the Woods â€“ Gin, Douglas Fir, Lemon Juice, Nocello, Lavender Syrup, Mint Bitters, Nocello Candy
We got there kind of late, but there were great hits to be had at Great Chefs of LA. It was overcast and we had just come from another culinary extravaganza – still determined to conquer. The range of bite options varied more than ever – right on down to those Sushi Popper People – but those that showed up at the top of the available selection did a really good job doing so.
What the heavyweights brought to the event often came in pairs. Like Lago’s Bone Marrow and a Burrata dish paired with Housemade Pink Lady Apple Gelato and Parma Prosciutto. I have a hard time arguing with either bone marrow or burrata, but the application of especially the burrata made for a refreshing, mildly-sweet take on the fresh, wet cheese. Autumn savory notes were alive and well in Studio City.
Another “solid” was the super generous sashimi plate from Sushi House Unico from the (yes, Italian)Â Giacomino Drago group. I opted for no rice, though you could have ordered sushi as well. The fish was fresh and though I was full from another food event, I just couldn’t leave the pieces down on the plate.
La Grande Orange was on hand to showcase pizzas (including a truffle topped variety) from their newly-opened The Luggage Room in Pasadena. The Border Grill truck returned this year for another stop. Stefan Richter’s L.A. Farm had hand-dipped liquid nitrogen orange ice cream popsicles.
The Beer Chicks curated the mini beer garden, and invited the individual brewers to Great Chefs, which made it one of the best places to consume beer that weekend. The Bruery, Deschutes, TAPS (Pumpkin Ale!), Duvel and Ommegang were all there to represent – and boy was I happy.
There were tons of food event options this particular day (forget about the weekend, period) – but Great Chefs again proved that they were a contender for your time, money and appetite.
Held last Sunday, November 7, 2010
12 – 3:30 PM
CBS Studio Center 4024 Radford Dr. Studio City, CA 91604
I admit, I was off form when I took the Metro Red Line to Downtown Los Angeles last week to preview the fall cocktail menu at Drago Centro. I forgot my Canon S90 point-and-shoot camera, the device usually responsible for taking the high res shots you’re used to seeing on this blog. But my desire to safely walk in my own neighborhood and use public transportation in LA (yes – I use it) didn’t diminish my own enthusiasm when I got to Drago. (Plus, I think my BlackBerry Torch did a good job, don’t you?)
Michael Shearin and his team put together a really good menu, and there are a few particular cocktails that I would order in a heartbeat. Caroline on Crack (her post) and Daniel of Thirsty In LA (his post) battled traffic to be at Drago and it was worth it, so it’s safe to say that these cocktails carry a bonus when you Metro it in – and to Metro it back out, again. The station is but a couple blocks away.
The Dazed & Confused, which combines Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, Creole Shrub, Cherry Heering, Fresh Rosemary and Angostura, is a cocktail which Michael describes as “combining everything,” much like the inspiration for the cocktail itself. It’s a man’s drink and delicious enough for tequila drinkers. The Eponymous, which combines Appleton VX Rum, Cruzn Blackstrap Rum, Orgeat and Fresh Lime – is even more complex while utilizing rum, and pleasantly less sweet than one would normally expect a rum cocktail to be. In fact, it evolves on your palate and is the drink that keeps on giving. Very nice.
The 5th & Fig is a special drink, because I had actually loved this drink about a year ago – but Michael said they served it for about a week and then on a fluke, figs had suddenly gone out of season. So, it’s back and better than ever, and even earlier this year so hopefully the figs will be here to stay, for at least a little while. The cocktail is a perfect blend of savory and sweet while really highlighting the nuances of the shrub and complementing the flavors well. It’s a nice balance, perhaps for that indecisive moment where you don’t know if you’re in the mood for something sweet or hearty.
The Golden Goose is delightful bourbon drink with a lot of its charm derived from the gooseberry, itself. The Fernet is a really nice touch, which further highlights the earthiness in the bourbon. Just a touch of maple syrup is added, with compliments to Michael for not adding too much, and letting the gooseberry set the stage.
The Greco Roman is a superb Sherry cocktail in my very little experience of Sherry cocktails. If I could ever muster a sherry craving (haven’t had one yet, to date), I could see this cocktail being my foray. Luxardo Morlacco does make it even sweeter but, I admit, perhaps a bit more palatable. The Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters, however, brings back in an earthy note. I guess when I make up my mind about sherry, I can have it alone. For now, it’s the Greco Roman.
TheÂ Smitten With Britain, made withÂ Tanqueray Gin, Chives, Lime and Fever Tree Tonic is a beauty as it is an imaginative variation on your usual gin and tonic. The added chives and lime make this cocktail refreshing – as I guess does the visual charm of the martini glass and purple blooms. Don’t spill.
The Smokehouse features – let’s not kid ourselves – the bacon.Â Laphroaig 10-year-old Scotch is the liquid centerpiece, here, accented with Clear Creek Cranberry, Apfelkorn, fresh apple, Fee Bros, whiskey barrel bitters and candied bacon. The smoke is thanks to the Laphroaig. I’m pretty glad I didn’t get to taste all the individual ingredients that make up this drink, because otherwise it would have been just too much. But this is your top savory cocktail on the menu – and the candied bacon swirl is alone reason enough to order this wonder. Michael gets away with not letting this one be too sweetÂ on top of the smoky – and the results are delicious.
Don’t forget to order some appetizers while you’re enjoying your cocktail. And there are great bar bites to be had, like a blackÂ truffle-topped funghi calzone. Or order one of Jashmine Corpuz’s delectable sweet bites – her imaginative desserts will have you intrigued.
So get to Drago Centro today: All cocktails are $8 each for the launch. It’s a great day to figure out what your favorite downtown libation is.
All cocktails were hosted.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Fall Cocktail Menu Debut – $8 each today (Normally $12)
Drago Centro 525 S Flower St. Los Angeles, CAâ€Ž 90071 213.228.8998â€Ž
It’s here! The official Spring Cocktail menu for Drago Centro will debut tomorrow at a very special $6 per cocktail, all day. After tomorrow, theyÂ will goÂ to their regular $12 per cocktail price point.Â As mentioned in last week’s post on their desserts and in Caroline on Crack’s special sneak peek post, here they are in all their glory – complete with their Italian-to-English translations:
Arancia Meccanica / Clockwork Orange – Sombra Mezcal, Red Bell Pepper, Cilantro, Agave Nectar, Lime Juice, Smoked Salt
Testarossa /Redhead – Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila, Serrano Tincture, Raspberries, Lemon Juice, Red Hawaiian Salt
Tomorrow is your opportunity to taste the fruits of Michael Shearin’s labor at half-price. And with a menu that covers a variety of spirits and flavors, I’d be hard-pressed to pass this chance up! I’ll see you there.
Wednesday, April 14th
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM 5 – 10:30 PM
$6 per Spring cocktail
Drago Centro The City National Bank Plaza 525 South Flower Street, Suite 120 Los Angeles, CA 90071
One night, after an outing somewhere in Downtown LA, Caroline had a need to cleanse her palate with a little something that would ultimately wash away all the dissatisfying drinks we everyone else had consumed earlier that night. (I had gotten there late and benefited from the experience of those who were punctual and who found their cocktails too sweet and frankly sub-par. I ordered Highland Park 12, neat.)
We were done and I might have gone straight home to crash, but instead decided to accompany Caroline. A few tweets later and we were set to drop by Drago Centro – especially since it was known that Michael Shearin would be there. Though now set for next week (delayed from a date this week because of filming schedules – ohhh, LA…), Caroline and I wanted to possibly get a peep at drinks that are to debut as the collective Spring Cocktail Menu. It is set to debut next Wednesday, to be exact, and Michael indulged us in a couple of them – without names but with ingredients. Sweet. Caroline did a fantabulous write-up including names she made up for the cocktails themselves – so let’s defer to L.A. Weekly’s Best Drinking Blog of 2009, shall we? Just remember to get the sneak preview for the Spring menu next Wednesday, April 14th all day – all new drinks will be only $6 each.
While Michael – by choice or not – accompanied us while we sat at the bar, Chef de Cuisine Ian Gresik greeted us and sent out beautiful mini iron pans of peas, gnocchi and crispy sweetbreads. They were perfectly savory and had just the perfect amount of salt. The gnocchi were tender but had good flavor and great bite. Since this was my third stop this night, I panicked a bit that Chef Gresik would send out more food, but was consoled when Pastry Chef Jashmine Corpuz had also come out to visit us and decided to grace us with her beautiful desserts as our edible night cap. Michael Shearin had us covered with our liquid ones.
And out came trays of 3 desserts each – which coincidentally were the first 3 on the dessert menu but couldn’t have covered ourÂ sweets palateÂ more diversely. The light, fruit-adorned one intrigued me in that I had never had grapefruit for dessert, before. But there the sour fruit was, in all its glory while accompanying tiny biscuits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cake, Avocado Mousse and even Basil Gelato. It was aromatic, light and refreshing. The delicious, clear pink chips of Campri candy were the icing on the cake, as Pastry Chef Jashmine had apparently collaborated with Michael to use them as garnishes for both dessert and cocktail – so definitely look for this candy garnish on the new Spring cocktail menu.
And oh, the budino! No, this isn’t the famed Osteria Mozza budino – but it’s practically as good and aesthetically elegant, to boot. The chocolate custard was the close-your-eyes heavenly centerpiece and the caramel gelato put the dessert over the top in sinful delight. The pecans gave the dish good weight and crunchy texture while the date carpaccio framed it well.
As for the I Bomboloni – it’s the dessert for doughnut lovers, everywhere. The doughy holes were a perfect, airy texture while the brown butter ice cream was savory-sweet. The tiny chopped-up apples with cinnamon brought me back to my favorite apple pie but the amaretto caramel added a note of sophistication to the dish. Mmm.
So next time you go to Drago Centro – whether for a full-on tasting menu or just a night cap – remember to not skip dessert. I was very much impressed, especially for someone with a penchant for salt-over-sweet. The desserts here are a sleeper in Downtown LA, and Jashmine Corpuz has the talent and imagination to keep your experience at Drago interesting through the very end…
Lunch: Mon – Fri, 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM Dinner: Mon – Sat, 5 PM – 10:30 PM Now Open Sundays: 5 PM – 9 PM
Drago Centro 525 S. Flower Street Los Angeles, CAâ€Ž 90071 213.228.8998â€Ž
Do you work in downtown LA? Are you running out of quick, interesting lunch options? Drago Centro has come up with a solution – set to change regularly according to season and intermittently featuring some favorite menu items straight out of Chef Celestino Drago’s kitchen. It will run you $25 for an appetizer, entree and dessert – while clocking your entire lunch at under 30 minutes.
Peep the current prix fixe offering – and taste this plus all the offerings to come:
Le Lattughe Miste mixed baby lettuces, shaved parmesan, red wine vinaigrette
On the run or not, it might be a good time overall to visit Drago Centro to see how they’ve revitalized their menu. And while you’re there, you might as well sample Michael Shearin‘s absolutely wonderful cocktail menu (they will be $12 and not $8 but well worth it)!
Caroline on Crack and Twitterland have been a-buzz with Drago’s special Thursday. So if you don’t already know, tomorrow their entire Nuovi Classico (new classics) cocktail menu – normally $12 – will be available for $8 per drink. Yesterday (Tuesday), was when the menu debuted. On H.C. of LA-OC-Foodie‘s and my way to a Whiskey Society meeting over at Seven Grand, we decided to stop by Drago for some tastes.
We met Michael Shearin, who was very gracious, knowledgable and will be sure to take care of you when you stop in tomorrow. Despite this being the day the brand new cocktail menu debuted, I was surprised – with the exception of the Fumo e Fuoco, which Michael promises will have more kick to it when he’s done – at how refined the cocktails were. Favorites were definitely the 5th e Fig (above), Pera (right) and the Poizone Magica No. 2 (below).
If I tried the cocktail, notes are includedÂ under its listing:
Api e Rose – Plymouth gin, poli miele, rosemary, honey, lemon juice (pic)
A light, refreshing drink. Good aroma (thank you, Rosemary) and a very casual cocktail.
Arancia meccanica – Sombra mezcal, red bell pepper, cilantro, agave nectar, lime juice, smoked salt (tried a variation not in its final form)
Very good, if what H.C. described as a “girly drink.” It’s girly in every good way, though I do admit being partial to basil.Â It’s refreshing and reminiscent of the ginger spritzers the bars are making nowadays.
5th e Fig (above) – Bertagnolli grappa, fresh fig, orange juice, lemon juice
Loved the grappa – an often passed-over liqueur but gets major nods in this cocktail. It’s not too sweet,Â very full yet light and the garnish itself (a fig slice) is pleasing to your eye as you sip.
Fumo e Fuoco – Dewars scotch, birdseye thai chili, honey, lemon juice (right)
If you dare, you may want to gently affirm to your server you’re no weakling when it comes to spice. This is a good introduction to and twist on scotch with the addition of honey and lemon which cuts its usual brawn and keeps it light…and hopefully spicy.
Oro Bianco – Oxley gin, chamomile syrup, Oro blanco grapefruit
Pera (above)Â – Belle de brillet poire cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice
Love the pear cognac – a unique main ingredient, and subtly sweetened with Cointreau and made light with lemon juice. Delicious! The cinnamon powdered rim in this drink isn’t mentioned on the menu but in my opinion it’s really the finishing touch.
Poizone Magica No. 2 – Death Door’s gin, aperol, martini bianco, lemon juice (right)
A close favorite! Love the white gin, which happens to hail fromÂ a remote part ofÂ Wisconsin. Stubborn vodka drinkers would enjoy this. Poison? Perhaps. Deathly? Definitely! You won’t know just how intoxicated you’re becoming by drinking this potion. Don’t forget the brandied cherry on the bottom – if I catch you, you’ll have ‘splainin to do.