When I first met Joe Brooke at The Edison, it was a whole seven, maybe even eight, years ago. And though I steer more towards food than cocktails on this blog, I hadn’t so much as written about a Vodka-Red Bull by then. My perception of cocktails, as well as as the entire cocktail scene in Los Angeles, was about to get turned upside down. Joe was one of the first craft bartenders I ever met and is one of the most hospitable.
We’re all familiar with our favorite stands and spots at the Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax, a Los Angeles landmark that dates back to 1934. As we fast-forward and look at the space beginning the 21st century, much hasn’t changed in awhile before the Dupars remodel. Short Order and Short Cake just recently became the stalwart newcomers for the last couple months (and with good reason).
Now, there’s a new kid on the block, and her vibe is a luxe, open-air space accentuated by sleek and simple design lines and a centerpiece 360-degree bar. Staged across from Zara and Cafe Marmalade, the bar has potential to play host to a vibrant, pulsing energy. The only thing that would make the scenery prime is if the bar were maybe just one level up (didn’t you know – The Grove parking lot has some of the best sights of the city).
But all of this barely matters, because you still get the view of the original clock tower and more importantly, cocktails by Salvatore Calabrese and helmed by his conductor, local expert barsmith Joe Brooke.
In short, yes – go for the House Martini. It’s one of the best martinis you’ll ever have. It’s so cold while achieving the perfect dilution (see above video) and made perfect in no small part due to the frozen glass and spirits.
Another gin go-to would be the Breakfast Martini, made with Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and orange marmalade – a signature drink from 1997 that may immortalize Salvatore in the cocktail world. It’s just jammy enough thanks to the marmalade (an ingredient inspired by Salvatore’s wife) but not not too sweet. And of course, you’ll have to order your own to see if it actually tastes like breakfast.
Spice lovers won’t be disappointed by the still-elegant Spicy Fifty, made with Stolichnaya Vanilla vodka, elderflower cordial, fresh lime juice, honey syrup and chili pepper.
But the true signature cocktail of the menu would have to be The Farmer’s Martini, made with frozen Stoli Elit, blue curacao and Salvatore’s bitters & champagne. I can’t say I’ve ever had much of a blue cocktail since I’ve left undergrad – but while it’s not my favorite, this one is legit and, together with the Spicy Fifty, has me perhaps reconsidering my prejudices against vodka…maybe.
And for those who are secretly or not-so-secretly craving a girly drink will have to pony up (personally or not) for the $18 Hollywood Bubbles, a Champagne cocktail made with Benedictine, fresh raspberry puree and pomegranate juice. Though I might be quick to judge on looks alone, Bubbles actually packs quite the berry punch.
Mixology101 also serves bar food, though it decidedly carries less emphasis as it all fits onto the last page of the menu – after Salvatore’s bio. But really – if you were aiming to really eat, you’d go across the way to Planet Dailies.
It’s an exciting time to be at The Original Farmer’s Market. People don’t have to flock there purely on account of old favorites anymore and now have reason to make new ones.
Though their location is right by the Farmer’s Market, you won’t be finding a lot of housemade syrups, as that’s a variable to contend with from batch to batch. Mixology101 focuses on using modern (not to be confused with gastronomic) methods to make the classics. But it’s clear that Joe Brooke seems happy to be exactly where he’s at, under the tutelege of a world-renowned mixologist and continually learning.
With Short Order around the corner and offering quite a different style and selection of cocktails, it becomes clear: Cocktails of all kinds will be a new pull to the Original Farmer’s Market.
We’ll just have to deal with the early call times.
Video by LASates.com
These are the finals you all have been waiting for. After an exhaustive semi-final round, five finalists have emerged in Table 20’s 2nd Annual L.A.’s Best Bartender Competition. Fortunately, this finalÂ round is open to the public, and all are invited to take part.
On Sunday, October 9th from 3:30 – 7:30 PM at Elevate Lounge, you’ll get to do all of the following with your discounted (from $25), $20 admission:
- Sip the finalist cocktails for free with 7 drink tickets
- Eat finger foods from Dave’s Catering
- Be amused by the event MC Dan Dunn
- Vote for your favorite cocktail
- Shop BarKeeper‘s pop-up shop
- Try artisanal sno-cones from Ice Ice Shavie
- Enjoy Elevate’s 21st floor views
- Receive food discounts at Takami Sushi
- Attend Karlsson’s Vodka Exclusive After-Party at Villian’s Tavern
And in case you need a reminder, these are the 5 mixologists and their drinksÂ you can look forward to on Sunday. Get ready to taste some of the best cocktails in L.A.:
- Joe Brooke, Next Door Lounge – People’s Choice
“The Spicy StrÃ¤nder”
- Justin Pike, Tasting Kitchen – Judges’ Selection
- Brian Summers, Harvard & Stone – Karlsson’s Cocktail Challenge Winner
“Blues in Orbit”
- Devon Tarby, The Varnish – Judges’ Selection
- Daniel Zacharczuk, Bar | Kitchen – Karlsson’s Cocktail Challenge Winner
“Faster Young Fruit”
Judging the competition will be none other than Matt Biancaniello, who won the competition last year;Â Dale Degroff of “The Craft of The Cocktail;” Jessica Gelt of the L.A. Times; Johnny Iuzzini, pastry chefÂ of Jean Georges; Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza and Marcos Tello of Liquid Assets.Â Â Some serious star power awaits you at this event!
The Master of Ceremonies, Dan Dunn,Â The Imbiber,Â will be on hand to guide you through the best cocktail voting process. You’ll each get one token to be used to vote for their favorite finalist cocktail. Each bartender will receive a prize – but who will get the billboardÂ and trip??
Also, admission to the after-party at Villain’s Tavern is included! It comes with 1 drink ticket and live band entertainment. Awesome.
EvenÂ better? I’m giving away 3 pairs of tickets to this event. To enter:
- Comment with the name of your favorite contending cocktail. Be sure to include your email (which I won’t share) so I can get in touch with you via email and Twitter.
- Tweet: “I want to go to @LABestBartender competition, @estarLA! http://bit.ly/qFaH3S”
- “Like”Â Â e*starLA on Facebook
You must do all 3 in order to be eligible. Contest closes at 5 PM on Friday, October 7, 2011. I’ll be contacting you immediately after. No response within 3 hours means I have to pick a new winner or three.
If you’re ready to purchase your tickets, use code “estarlatix” to get $5 off!! Score!!
It’s not next door, but I can’t exactly argue with two-blocks-away-and-around-the-corner, either. So named because it’s adjacent to Hollywood Corner (a diner featuring healthy offerings), Next Door Lounge is easily a stand-alone destination with speakeasy stylings.
Not the least of reasons to visit Next Door Lounge is Joseph Brooke, a name any L.A. cocktailian would formerly associate with Copa d’Oro and The Edison (and for you reality TV contest junkies, Joe was also winner of On the Rocks: The Search of Americaâ€™s Top Bartender). After a few test runs, Joe has now designed at least half of the two-page menu, with some being riffs off old classics and others coming straight out of the manual. The cocktailÂ menu ($12-$14)Â reads something like a punchy phrase book from earlier times.
I have to admit, it’s nice not having to do battle at the bar to reach Joe as in his previous high-volume bar downtown. Next Door Lounge has a nice, intimate feel for its high-profile locale. My favorite cocktail happened to be one that was just perfected at the time, called the Volstead & Vice. Made with Illegal Mezcal, Pernod Absinthe, cucumber water, agave nectar and lime juice, I’ve never had such a gracefully smoky cocktail. The mezcal was nuanced while the natural juices in the drink subtly sweetened its aftertaste.
The bar’s signature cocktail, The Dame Next Door, may be familiar to if you’ve been to The Roger Room on La Cienega. Canadian Club 12 year is the base of this cocktail, with dry vermouth, clove-infused pineapple gomme syrup, pineapple juice, pasteurized egg white for froth and angostoura bitters for that oomph. You can’t miss it with the nutmeg key stencil sprayed on top. It’s a perfect flagship cocktail for the bar, as it’s extremely palatable and thankfully, not too sweet.
There are a few drinks with Prosecco in it for that extra lift. And Joe does a great job creating favorites at the bar. The Clover Club was as refreshing and deliciously frothy as any I’ve had – especially in the summer heat. The Ward 8 made with Bulleit Rye really highlighted the fresh juices used at the lounge.
If you want a simple tequila cocktail, the aptly-named Tequila Daisy will certainly float your boat. Don Julio Silver is shaken with orange curacao and served up with a lime wedge. All these drinks are a testament to a cocktail menu that is perfect for what’s left of the summer heat.
The bar bites are no slouch. Beware, though, because you just might get addicted to their highbrow version of beernuts: Fried spaghetti. Yes, crispy straight noodles really are addicting! But if you’re looking for something a little bit more substantive, go for one of their flatbreads or bruschettas with pickled beets, goat cheese and basil.
What I love about the decor are the little touches that give the spaceÂ a bit of authenticity. The owner, Ferris Wehbe,Â is a bit of a Hollywood community manÂ and really wants theÂ lounge to be a neighborhood hangout. Joe showed me a bit of the barware that came straight from the Beverly Hills Hilton in the 40s – so there indeed is a little bit of history at Next Door Lounge.
So. What are you doing tonight?
It’s a good night as any to head downtown as Radio Room returns to The Edison.Â If you don’t already know, Radio Room is a sometimes-monthly event with only the best mixologists flown in from top bars from all over. Tonight, it’s Joseph Brooke – of Santa Monicaâ€™s Copa dâ€™OroÂ and winner ofÂ America’s Top Bartender – who will be celebrating his new position as headÂ of The Edison’s cocktail program. Also featured will be Brian MillerÂ of New York Cityâ€™s famousÂ Death & Co. and Erick Castro of Bourbon & Branch andÂ Rickhouse in San Francisco. Acclaimed for their own unique vision and distinctive drink profiles, each barman brings to Radio Room menus that include both signature beverages as well as cocktails created solely for this event.
I’ll see you tonight, drink in hand.
Win Tickets to The Edison Radio Room (CONTEST CLOSED) – CarolineOnCrack
Includes cocktail menu
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Radio Room at The Edison
108 W. 2nd Street #101
Los Angeles, CA 90012