We all know Maker’s Mark. So when I had a chance recently to catch up with Rob Samuels, I jumped at the chance. He’s the 8th generation bourbon maker of the Maker’s Mark family, and just succeeded his father last year in the position. Theirs is the only bourbon distillery designated as a National Historic Landmark. With the amount of history behind the company, there were a few things I had to know…
What’s your favorite cocktail to drink with Maker’s in it? And how do you feel about how Maker’s fits in with the ongoing cocktail scene?
I was just at a nice event at Morton’s, where the bartender made a great Manhattan – [a cocktail] which I really enjoy. More than anything that’s what I love. With the growth of premium spirits, handmade spirits, and that’s the history of my grandparent’s legacy, when they started in 1952. That was the beginning of the modern era of bourbon. To incorporate their craft, what they created with the handmade craft of a unique cocktail is really nice. I love just working with bartenders.
When it comes to the new food and beverage choices that accompany the gentrification of Downtown Los Angeles, there’s a constant balancing act that goes on between lunch-friendly business spots and places with offerings hip enough to entertain night life. (What kind of nightlife? A whole other question.) But the 3-weeks-old Towne might just be the spot to fulfill both those needs, thanks to their manageable menu and stellar food by chefs Eric Hara & Ryan Morrison as well as outstanding cocktail menu by Jason Bran.
Located in South Park’s upscale Watermarke Tower (you’ll be dining beneath a many Dodgers’ quarters, to be sure), Towne offers an enticing menu with something for everyone. Looking for original yet un-fussy bites? A delicious Clover Club? Or maybe just the $18 per person pork shank that is braised for 10 hours before being deep fried, enabling a super tasty, tender-yet-crispy feast of texturized, steaming and rich meat.
Towne is just the place to wean Los Angeles off its addiction to run-of-the-mill gastropubs – and with it being this early in the game, it seems they’re doing it with plenty of ease. Favorites included their unique rendition of Lobster “Mac” ‘n Cheese, with house-made pasta casings filled with mushrooms and Fontina cheese and whole chunks of lobster topping the array. Other favorites utilize their wood burning oven, which give much of Towne’s dishes a distinctive flavor – such as the delicious Grilled Octopus with tomato puree and apricots but also artichokes and squid ink to match its savory profile. The Lobster Smokey “Pig” in a Blanket also benefits, and the result is an anything-in-a-blanket you’ve never had before.