Last week, I got to enjoy up close a private concert by Paul McCartney right on Hollywood Boulevard. Considering the audience reached all the way back to La Brea Avenue (or, for the first two songs, the audience of the Jimmy Kimmel Live telecast), it was truly an honor when Guinness asked me to be a part, first with Guinness in the makeshift green room and with a great view of Sir Paul on the Boulevard.
Beforehand, we had an early burger dinner at 25 Degrees in the Roosevelt Hotel furnished with none other than creamy Guinness milkshakes. If you haven’t already had one of these shakes, it’s a definite must-try. They’ve other adult varieties like Salty Caramel, but the Guinness is my favorite.
Whatever our diet, we can all partake in the cult that celebrates the, green cap-topped, garlic-vinegar-red jalapeño sauce that is Huy Fong Foods’ flagship, the famous “Rooster Sauce.” The launch event is free and both cookbooks will be available for purchase with Randy’s autograph – and everyone who does will receive a special edition of Sriracha sauce packaged in a limited edition bottle with “The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook — July 2, 2013” printed on it.
While we’ve gone back and forth for awhile, the weather has gotten pretty warm and I’m sure that it’s here to stay. Well, besides June Gloom in a couple weeks, that is.
But it’s hard to argue that Los Angeles is the place to be in Spring, and Comme Ça, fresh off their remodel, is the perfect place to celebrate and clink glasses. They’ve got quite an impressive cocktail menu that has been out for a couple weeks. Looks are deceiving, because while the Basil Blush, for instance, looks like your typical strawberry-basil cooler, it actually packs quite a punch thanks to its freshly muddled ingredients and tasty, spicy white rum.
There are some restaurants in Los Angeles that have achieved a sort of double-edged iconic status. Their names have been cemented in history due to the decades of their resilience – a resulting longevity which suggests, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Yet. We can all agree that the definition of “ain’t broke,” or “competent,” has evolved in regards to the way we have grown to consider cocktails today, which is in itself a wonderful thing. Kate Mantelini, a place that is all at once regarded as a Beverly Hills “coffee shop” [Zagat], power lunch hub and pinpoint on every star map in existence, has effectively shed their 1980s-era defunct ways of creating and enjoying cocktails thanks to the new menu by Devon Espinoza.
Since the weather, yet again, is doing nothing to evoke anything the least bit autumn, there are four new cocktails at Sadie in Hollywood that will do it, themselves. Forget that we’ve yet another heatwave (alas, in November) and let Giovanni Martinez’s new creations take you to a place where the leaves turn colors and the air smells crisp. And your taste buds find a new appreciation for cognac…
It’s rare when I get a full picture of an entire cocktail menu, but it’s even rarer when I’m afforded the opportunity to do so and end up consistently impressed with cocktail after cocktail. The bar at 1886’s recent Spring menu makes it the destination in not only Pasadena drinking, but a go-to for some of the best cocktails in all of LA.
Sure, it flies under the radar because of its location, but 1886 has also benefited as a result. Free of the obligation of appealing to overflow traffic, 1886 has the freedom to focus on seriously fun cocktails, akin to the audience the bar has cultivated since its opening in late-2010.
The Pimm’s #5 Cup (after previous other Pimm’s versions with other spirits) is a perfect cocktail to head off the menu for Spring. The rye, Bitter Lemon Fever Tree Tonic and housemade Pimms made for a perfect balance, rendering a super-refreshing cocktail just as a Pimm’s Cup should be.
If you’re in the mood for their other rye cocktail, go for the 20,000 Leagues – a kind of swizzle made with peach-infused rye, mint, and housemade yellow chartreuse candy (the garnish was especially tasty!). Imagined by Pete Lloyd Jones, this deliciousÂ cocktail was the result of a request by the Pasadena Historical Society to honor residents who were aboard the Titanic. The ingredients were inspired by the Titanic’s own dessert menu.
The Water of Life, made by Garrett McKechnie with the Norwegian spirit, Aquavit, homemade Chamomile-Syrup and Noletâ€™s Gin, is the floral tea-influenced cocktail of the season. It’s also a light yet herbal treat and finished off with a sprig or two of Chamomile.
The Cinnablossom by Lacey Murillo comes with a cinnamon garnish that is toasted – or flamed – tableside. Gin, lemon juice and homemade cinnamon bark syrup make for delicious gin-citrus cocktail with a subtle touch of spice.
One of the best beer cocktails I’ve had in awhile also happened to be the prettiest, which is quite lovely since it’s a testament to how far they’ve evolved. TheÂ Wild Orchid is a shaken cocktailÂ made with Torontel Pisco, Vergano Bianco Vermouth, Grand Marnier and Hefeweissen with the orchid garnish. The effervescence of the beer worked well with the depth of the Pisco, vermouth and Grand Marnier for a really wonderful combination of flavors and textures.
The other flaming cocktail on the menu is the Bittersweet Farewell in honor of former 1886 barman, Danny Cymbal’s. A flaming lemon peel floats as an oasis in a shaken concoction of London Dry Gin, homemade Passion Fruit Syrup, lemon juice and Campari. It’s a beautiful gin drink with just the right amount of tart.
The all-out favorite of the night had to be the Rum Whistle, which is basically 1886’s new bottled special and bottled each and every night for a fixed amount to be sold at the bar the next day. It’s not only bottled, but it also has the widest range of appeal; boozers and non-boozers alike will love it. The green apple-celery soda base isÂ spiked with aged white rum and finished off with fresh lime juice before being carbonated and bottled and the results are simply tasty. You may order more than one – not only because you can but alsoÂ because you love it.
The Vintage Caprice Flight features three vintages of classic Beefeater Gin Barrel-Aged Caprice â€“ made with Beefeater Gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine and orange bitters and thenÂ aged at 4-months, 8-months and 12-months.Â I wasÂ surprised to find that I actually favored the 8 month vintage over the 12. Older isn’t necessarily better and sometimes, your gin is just done aging.
The Barrel Roll (title picture) doesn’t just fall under the years-long trend of barrel aged cocktails, it’s also a super tasty rendition of aged Bols Genever, Carpano Antica, Green Chartreuse and aÂ Campari chip byÂ pastry chef Jeff Haines (who also did the Yellow Chartreuse candy). It just so happened to be one of my favorites.Â The chip was theÂ slight sweet touch to the Bols cocktail and made for a strong yet nuanced cocktail.
Of course, you’ll need a few bar bites to line your stomach – but the selection at 1886 does more than that. They are daring yet successfully delicious plates, indeed. The musts: Shrimp toast and Lamb necks.
So get on over to 1886 right away and drink up. You’ll learn why it’s one of the best kept secrets inÂ Pasadena.
All food and cocktails were hosted. Special thanks to Brady Weise.
Tue – Sun
Parlor Hour: Tue – Fri
5 PM – 7 PM
1886 at The Raymond 1250 S. Fair Oaks Avenue Pasadena, CA 91105 626.441.3136
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 about being a Hollywood resident that lends itself to glossing over most of the food and drink choices in my neighborhood. Believe you me, I love my area and all the conveniences it affords – but it’s because they all outweigh the inconveniences.
There are inconveniences like the annoyances of walking past the Thursday through Saturday night crowd, as well as the douche spots themselves that I’d avoid any day of the week. Hemingway’s is an example of a place that I’d go and see Alex Straus make cocktails earlier in the evening but avoid at all costs at peak times. But now, I can add Lexington Social House to that secret non-peak-time list.
I was invited to take a peak at their Social Hour, their thematically dubbed happy hour. And it’s not shabby in the least. With the launch of their new menu, it’sÂ a great opportunity to try new items during LSH Lite, which goes on at the bar Tuesday through Friday from 5:30 until 8 PM and all day Sunday. Their specialty cocktails as well as their entire menu is half-off during this time! Since I love sitting at the bar, anyway, I’ll gladly take my supper club to the stools.
A sure menu bet is Mette Williams’ fried chicken tenders, an unordinarily juicy-crispy preparation. Looking for that hearty bite that doesn’t hold back? The Chipotle pork belly biscuits with aged Gouda and fried egg will be sure to satisfy you and then some.
As for the cocktails, designed by Kyle Ackley, I must applaud this Hollywood-and-Vine institution for putting the brakes on the vodka in their drink menu – just beware that there are pop rocks in one of them. My favorite cocktail, however, was the Spanish Harlem, made with tanteo cocoa infused tequila, maraschino liqueur, agave nectar and chocolate-chili bitters. It was a clean, strong yet flavorful drink and I ended up having another.
Lexington Social House is an unlikely place to find a Spago and CUT alum like Mette Williams, but alas – there she is, surprising everyone with her well-executed, comfort-driven menu. Social Hour is just the time to try it all out and wash it downÂ at half-off.Â And that beats amateur hour any day.Â
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
I don’t cover a lot of entertainment news on this blog, but when it comes to Los Angeles and the entertainment industry, the latter is an undeniable part of our culture as…well, television.
Tomorrow, our TV stars will be gathering at the L.A. Convention Center for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball, and Patina will be catering the star-studded, “mod illusions”-styled event for only the 16th time.
The Governors Ball will be painted in black and white and everything nice. Awhile back, I got a chance to get a glimpse of the motif as well as taste miniature versions of the courses guests will be enjoying tomorrow.
…Such as this Windrose Farms heirloom tomato salad with rosemary and cherry wood-grilled asparagus. Fried gold potatoes and fried crisps decorate the top of the dish. This is a great first course to close out the summer.
The entree course tomorrow will be Filet Mignon with an oxtail bordelaise. Gratin of macaroni (that is, a cylindrically-cut tower of horizontally-layered tube pasta with Vermont white Cheddar) and rainbow baby carrots line the plate as do a cipollini onion and caramelized broccoli emulsion.
Unless you’re vegetarian, it’s pretty hard to argue with a Filet. It’s also hard to argue with macaroni and carrots. With a 3-course menu this simple, it’s clear that Patina is going with ingredients that will provide the least fuss for a – let’s face it – potentially fussy bunch of diners.
I’m still curious as to what they’ll feed to the vegetarians and vegans. This is L.A., right? Patina will be on-hand to take care of all the needs of all 3600 sat-down guests. They’re well-equipped in the front and back of the house to tend to all dietary preferences and restrictions.
The dessert course, in all its glitz and glamour (and glitz), would be a vegan-banned course as well. The Duncan Hines milk chocolate brownie is ensconced in chocolate blackberry cream and chocolate rice crisp. Blackberries line the plate and flavor of the lone macaron on the side.
And all three of these courses will be served in a setting that is designed to trick the eye, complete with a 60-foot, centralized and elevated, circular dance floor and orchestra platform.
As for cocktails by Grey Goose, I sipped on a delicious almost-grapefruit-tasting cocktail that they’ll be serving to guests tomorrow. It was surprisingly not too sweet and as far as vodka cocktails go, this is one of the ones I’ve liked in recent memory (in no small part due to the fact that I barely drink them, period):