Drinking Through New Spring Cocktails at The Corner Door

Beau DuBois and his stoic shaker face

Thankfully, there have been more and more spots popping up on the Westside to which I’ll venture for some great cocktails. Scopa Italian Roots, Belcampo Meat Company join the ranks of Copa d’Oro, Tasting Kitchen, Sunny Spot, Sotto and Picca (the latter two of which are on the east part of the Westside).

But Beau DeBois’ cocktail menu at The Corner Door has always been sort of a sleeper – though this is my easterly L.A. bias speaking. Of course, this status does not apply with locals, because the restaurant and bar regularly draws a legion of neighborhood residents, and for good reason: Great drinks, great pub fare and late night hours.

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Spring Cocktails in Full Bloom at Comme Ça

Basil Blush – White rum, strawberry, basil, balsalmic, built over ice

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.

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It’s Liquid Spring at The Raymond Pasadena’s 1886

Barrel Roll

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.

Pork Belly, Bourbon Aged Maple, Apple, Celery & Chili

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.

The Cinnablossom

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 delicious 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 Nolet’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.

Bittersweet Farewell

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. The Wild Orchid is a shaken cocktail 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.

Rum Whistle

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 is 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 also because you love it.

The Vintage Caprice Flight features three vintages of classic Beefeater Gin Barrel-Aged Caprice – made with Beefeater Gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine and orange bitters and then aged at 4-months, 8-months and 12-months. I was 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.

Vintage Caprice Flight

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 a Campari chip by pastry chef Jeff Haines (who also did the Yellow Chartreuse candy). It just so happened to be one of my favorites. The chip was the 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 in Pasadena.

All food and cocktails were hosted. Special thanks to Brady Weise.

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Tue – Sun

5 PM

Parlor Hour: Tue – Fri

5 PM – 7 PM

Closed Mondays

1886 at The Raymond
1250 S. Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105
626.441.3136

Favorites From Drago Centro’s Spring Cocktail Menu ($8 Each Tonight)

Ver la luz del dia

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.

Nebbia Rossa

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.

Night and the City

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.

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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

Artisanal LA Brings Its Market, Demos, Panels and Tastings Westward

Santa Monica Place

If I weren’t going to Coachella (completely last minute!) this weekend, I would be at Artisanal LA in a heartbeat. It’s always one of the most unique yet conscientious shopping experiences of the year whether you’re shopping for your kitchen, garden, home or loved ones. It’s a conglomerate of some of the best ideas for living in the city and what’s more, there are demos, panels and tastings to fill your day.

A portion of the proceeds from your $10 advance admission (or $15 at-the-door) will go towards St. Vincent’s Meals on Wheels, which helps feed seniors in their homes. Complimentary beverages will be available during the event, too.

Some of my favorites on the schedule include a Market Fresh Cocktail demo by Matt Biancaniello of The Roosevelt’s Library Bar, an Intelligentsia Coffee demo and tasting and a Local Craft Beer Panel by Eagle Rock Brewery and Nibble Bit Tabby.

So I while I won’t see you there, that doesn’t mean you should miss out. Buy your advance tickets ASAP.

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Saturday, April 16 – Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sat: 11 AM – 8 PM
Sun: 11 AM – 7 PM

Advance tickets

Complimentary bike valet; free car valet available w/restaurant validation.

Artisanal LA at Santa Monica Place
395 Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Drago Centro’s New Spring Cocktail Menu – $6 Each Tomorrow Only

Il Padrino and Great Scot

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, they will go to their regular $12 per cocktail price point. 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
  • Barbarossa / Redbeard – Kraken Rum, Campari, Orange Juice, Lime Juice, Campari Candy
  • Draculino / Little Dracula – Distillery No. 209 Gin, Dimmi Liquore, Harry’s Strawberries, Basil, Lemon Juice
  • Grande Scozzese / Great Scot – Dewars Scotch, Cardamom, Lemon Juice
  • Il Padrino
  • Il Padrino / The Godfather –Tequila Ocho Plata, Mirto Amaro, Martini Bianco Vermouth, Orange Bitters
  • La Grande Mela / The Big Apple – Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Cointreau, Pink Lady Apple, Rhubarb Bitters, Lemon Juice
  • Maracana / famous soccer stadium in Brazil – Sagatiba Cachaca, Cinnamon Tincture, Lime, Demerara Sugar
  • Rallenta / Slow Down – Plymouth Sloe Gin, Crème de Peche, St. Germain, Orange Bitters, Soda Water
  • Settentacinque / 75 – Principe Prosecco, Kelt Cognac, Punt e Mes, Limoncello, Peychaud’s Bitters, Sugar Cube
  • Tarocco / Sicilian Orange – Belvedere Vodka, Cointreau, Tangelo, Cucumber, Lemon Juice
  • 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

@dragocentro

@michaelshearin