Monthly Archives: April 2012

Drink of the Week

The Penicillin

2 oz Blended Scotch
1/4oz Islay Scotch
3/4 oz Lemon juice
3/40z Honey-Ginger syrup

Garnish: Candied ginger piece

Combine ingredients in shaker with ice.  Strain into rock glass, ideally with one very large ice cube (dilutes the drink slowly.)

For those of you who know me personally, you will undoubtedly be aware of my trip to the hospital this week.  Don’t worry everyone, I am fine…but being on bed rest and taking a variety of medicines has inspired me to write about a ‘Modern day Classic’, The Penicillin.  First of all, the Honey-Ginger syrup in the recipe above is easy to make.  Combine honey and a little less than equal parts water into a small saucepan and heat, add large slices of peeled fresh ginger, bring to the boil then allow mixture to cool. Remove the ginger pieces and strain into a container.

As I said before, this is a definite ‘Modern Classic’.  In fact until last week I would have bet money it was created back in the days of Jerry Thomas. However, I happened to be at Comme Ca last week in Hollywood for a reunion of the original bar staff and discovered that Sam Ross, a previous employee, is the creator of this drink. Obviously, it is NOT from the pre-prohibition era at all, but in fact from 2005 created for the legendary bar Milk & Honey in New York.

I was fortunate enough to have the drinks creator make it for me, and it was definitely the best version I have ever tasted.  I sadly can’t drink a whole one because I am allergic to raw ginger, but what I did taste was sweet, a little smoky, spicy and full of complexity.  The peaty whiskey comes through the honey sweetness, the lemon and ginger are noticeable flavors  but don’t compete, they just blend nicely together.

This is certainly a great drink if you’re feeling a little under the weather, but even if you’re feeling just fine I suggest you give it a try.

Leave a comment

Filed under Drink of the Week

Interview with a Bartender: Giovanni Martinez

Today my Bartender of choice is former Chivas Regal Brand Ambassador (2007), Bar Consultant and Spirits Director Giovanni Martinez.  Consultant for both the New York and Los Angeles Fig & Olive Restaurants, as well as Buffalo Club in Santa Monica, he can now be found working on drinks at Sadie in Hollywood.

I have known Gio personally for a couple of years now, due to his close friendship with his work colleague, my boyfriend, Greg Bryson (AKA FutureGreg.)   He is extremely passionate about alcohol and creating drinks, he’s entertaining, friendly and always the life of the party!

Giovanni Martinez

AKA: Gio
Official Job Title: Spirits Director
Born: Los Angeles, California
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, California
Current Work locations: Sadie, Hollywood


.
*****

Q & A

What is the best thing about what you do? 
Opening the door for people and watching them step into a new World of drinking which they never expected to be in but now enjoy being a part of.
 
What is the Worst thing about what you do?
Cleaning out clogged floor sinks
 
Who would you say is your mentor? Who do you feel trained you in your area of expertise?
Max Warner and Colin Appiah probably influenced me the most in regards to dealing with having a commitment to  excellence whilst keeping the customer the number one priority.
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA?
I have a great time at Harvard and Stone.
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
Not much. I won’t eat Domestic animals or Animals of high intelligence (except the occasional pork, they’re just so tasty).
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
Unusual is so relative….Crickets.
  
What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice?
Umm….. In a Punch or Sour- Gin, in a Cocktail- Rye, Neat- Scotch or Tequila.
  
What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
I really like Martinez’s and Last Word’s.
  
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
Teach history.
  
If you could live anywhere in the World where would it be? and Why?
London or Bora Bora.  London because I’ve always had a stupendous time there, and Bora Bora cause, well, duh. But I couldn’t live anywhere but Los Angeles for very long, after all this is, to quote Steve Martin falsely quoting Shakespeare:
 
“This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
The envy of less happier lands, 
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this Los Angeles”
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this segment of my site please send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!

Please note: I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who think ‘Sweet and Sour Mix’ is a great product, bartend only for the joy of extra cash and have no interest in the cocktail community itself, need not apply!

1 Comment

Filed under Interview with a bartender!

Drink of the Week

Lava Flow

2 oz Light Rum (I like Flor de Cana)
1/2 oz Coconut Cream
2 Strawberries
1/4 Banana
2 oz Pineapple Juice

Garnish: Pineapple Wedge

The key to making this drink look good is to blend the ingredients separately.  Blend the strawberries and rum together and pour in to a Hurricane glass. Next rinse out the blender and blend the banana, pineapple juice and coconut cream in ice.  Add the creamy mix on top of the strawberry rum mix.  When you blow down your straw, or stir the drink it simulates a ‘lava flow’.  Very fun!

I’m writing this post from Vegas, and was inspired by the drinks by the pool today. Obviously this slushy style beverage doesn’t showcase the best of mixology like the usual drinks I post on here, it is however a fun and fruity option that gets you in a tropical mood.  It is on the sweeter side, but the pineapple and coconut combination works perfectly. The lava flow is basically a colorful variation of a Pina Colada and a version I personally prefer, it reminds me of  relaxing in Hawaii every time I drink it.  Simply put it is a great drink for summer or lazing by the pool. (Remove the Rum for a great Virgin version for kids)

Leave a comment

Filed under Drink of the Week

Bagatelle

Bagatelle
755 north la cienega
Los angeles, CA
90069

.

I went to an industry event at Bagatelle recently, which is the new bar/restaurant replacing Coco Deville inside STK in Hollywood.  I have to admit, I wasn’t too excited to be going there initially purely because I had bad memories of it’s original establishment, however I was pleasantly surprised by how different it is to the former night club

The restaurant area has a similar vibe to Fig and Olive across the street. The bar has a pristine white marble top, the dining area has a romantic candle lit setting, there are beautiful chandeliers everywhere and delicate detailing that extends to the vent covers.

I arrived when it was still sunny out and liked how light and clean the place looked, it was elegant and modern with bright white lines everywhere.

The Bagatelle symbol (a silhouette of a woman’s head that sort of reminds me of medusa) and the ornate plaster moldings around the restaurant brought ‘Jasperware’ to mind.  Jasperware are pottery pieces originally designed by Josiah Wedgewood, a British potter from 18th Century whose signature pieces are matte ceramics of carved or moulded classical figures and silhouettes, usually heads.  The Jasperware basalt black with white figurine (shown in the picture below) sprung to my mind as soon as I entered the restaurant, mainly because of the Bagatelle symbol but also because of all the stencil shapes and raised white moldings that surround the room on the banisters and the staircase.

.      .

Zach Patterson is the head barman here and designed a drink menu that works well for the different genres of customer that come through the door.  There are great options for the Mixology geeks of this town, as well as a couple of strategically placed vodka drinks that will appeal to the general Hollywood drinker.  Zach himself is a wonderful character to witness in action, he’s always vibrant and full of energy behind the bar.

I started with ‘The girl from Lima’ which was spicy but had a citric juiciness and slight sweetness.  It got hotter the more I drank it but the passionfruit kept it balanced and drinkable.

Girl from Lima- Jalapeño infused Machu Pisco, passion fruit puree, fresh lemon juice, a dash of mint

The second drink I tried I liked the most.  The drink itself is hot pink due to the prickly pear puree.  It had a great Basil nose, the Aperol helped prevent it from being overly sweet and the color was gorgeous.  I think it would’ve worked well with Gin instead of Vodka, but I understand the need for a few Vodka drinks on a Hollywood drinks list so I didn’t complain.

Tommy (my friendly bartender) told me that when they were trying to come up with a name for the drink the staff had at least 5 possible options and couldn’t pick one, then one day someone said “Hey Remember when hot pink was really cool?” and the name ‘Remember when’ stuck.

Remember When- Belvedere, Prickly Pear, Aperol, Fresh Lemon juice,  Fresh Basil

The food is french and although it was very good, I found it to be a little overpriced.  The chicken dish was very tasty, the meat was succulent and juicy and I’m told the chef stuffs truffles under the skin which would explain the interesting and slightly salty flavor it had. I’m not sure it was worth the $50 price tag (thankfully I wasn’t paying this time) but it was certainly enjoyable.

Poulet Roti Entier a la Truffe- Whole truffle-roasted chicken, yukon gold potato confit, shallots, button mushrooms $50

The beef tartare with little toasts was flavorful and easy to eat, it was lightly chilled, had a delicious quail egg on top and was nicely seasoned.

Tartare de Boeuf au Couteau- hand-cut filet mignon, quail egg, capers, crispy shallots, petite herbs salad $19

I am not going to give a food rating this visit as I didn’t eat much just nibbled on a few items on the table (the chicken and tartare), but I feel like there are a lot of other dishes I should try before I give a rating.  I stopped in mainly to see the new bar program and then stayed on for Aidan Demarest’s birthday party which was great fun!  The ice cream sundae they brought out with sparklers was delicious and a great end to the evening.

I will be sure to review the food in coming months, however what I did taste was well cooked, flavorful and nicely seasoned which is a good sign.

Drinks get a good out of 5 coupes.

There was a good selection on the menu, the bartenders seemed knowledgable and the drinks I tried were tasty.  I understand that vodka drinks have to be a prominent feature on cocktail lists in Hollywood, in order to satisfy the lambourgini driving, head to toe Ed Hardy wearing imbeciles that frequent most places at the top of La Cienega. I only wish there had been less of them on this menu and more Gin options.

All in all its a pretty cool place to check out, the staff were really friendly and I found it to be a huge improvement on the pretentious club that was there before.

1 Comment

Filed under Great Food, Speciality Cocktails

Drink of the Week

Spring Tax Back

2oz Brandy
3/4oz Apple juice (fresh pressed)
1/4oz Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Honey Apple Butter (Trader Joes)
 
Shake and serve over crushed ice in round goblet
Garnish: Green Apple Peel twist
 

Seeing as my boyfriends punch was such a huge success last week (thank you to all those who wrote me messages and re-blogged the drink) I decided this week I would ask him to create me another drink, this time with Tax season as the theme.  He played with a few ideas, green chartruese came in to discussion a few times (he wanted the drink to be Green; the color of money!)  After much deliberation and tasting, this was the recipe that worked the best.

It’s a great, slightly sweet ‘Spring time’ drink that utilizes the refreshing citric flavors of apple and lemon.  The brandy works nicely with the sweetness of the apple, and the crushed ice makes it almost like a slushy…great for the Summer months around the corner.  The Apple Butter that we used in this recipe is available at Trader Joes, however it is basically blended apple,honey and sugar so theoretically you could make it yourself if you don’t have access to the brand. The above is the final recipe created by Greg Bryson AKA FutureGreg. Taxes are usually due on April 15th, but seeing as that fell on a Sunday this year you have until April 17th to file.

Enjoy your ‘Spring Tax Back’ whilst you wait for Uncle Sam to send your refund! 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Drink of the Week

Spring into Sadie

Event: Spring Menu Release

Sadie
1638 N Las Palmas Ave,
Los Angeles, CA, 90028

*****

Last week I found myself with a handful of local writers and bloggers for a sit down dinner at Sadie in Hollywood.  Chef Mark Gold of Eva Restaurant has been shaking things up in the Kitchen at Sadie, and this event was to showcase their new Spring Menu.

Our table was in the courtyard area which I was excited about as I hadn’t yet experienced this area of the restaurant.  Despite the chilly evening we were kept toasty warm by the outside heaters and new overhead awning.  The place has a romantic setting, especially the spot lit water moat that surrounds the patio and creates movements of light on the stone walls.

Each food item on the menu was carefully paired with a drink, designed and created by the talented bar staff.  Giovanni Martinez in collaboration with a number of team members at the bar have made a truly wonderful and varied drinks list. I have mentioned the bar scene in previous posts so I won’t go in to too much detail again, however I will say that I am never disappointed with the drinks at Sadie.

Our feast began with a delightfully refreshing drink called Temperado, which had a fresh taste and a subtle cilantro flavor that cleansed the palette before eating.  It had some heat to it from the Jalepeno, but it wasn’t overly spicy.

Temperado- Cachaca, Avion Silver Tequila, Lime juice, Fresh Cilantro and Jalepeno

The first dish to come out was a mini salad called a ‘Little Gem’.  It had a lot of flavor for its small size. The crispy ham, crunchy lettuce leaf and creamy garlic sauce complimented each other beautifully.  Next came an organic egg, described in the menu as ‘representing Spring’, which had a beautifully runny yolk, a hollandaise style sauce with peas and pansies (the flower!) and a grilled spring onion.  It was another very tasty little bite size appetizer.

            

After these first dishes we tried a local Heffeweizen (by Golden Road) and the Piscoteca drink.  The cocktail was interesting with ginger and honey notes, it had a bright flavor from the Yuzu and Lime juice but the citric acidity didn’t mask the Pisco and the drink itself was nicely balanced.

Piscoteca- Italia Pisco, Homegrown mint, Ginger honey syrup, Fresh lime juice, Yuzu bitters

A selection of share plates appeared for the table and we were able to sample the Pork belly, Pei mussels, Lamb meatballs and Oysters.  All the starters were tasty, although my only complaints were that the meatballs seemed slightly over seasoned and the Yuzu Kosho salty spiciness on the pork belly was a little too overpowering for my tastes.

Lamb Meatballs- Whipped sheep milk yoghurt

These two dishes were by no means bad, they just didn’t appeal to me personally.

Pork Belly- Yuzu Kosho, Spring Onions

The mussels however were wonderful and there was a definite sweetness to the dish.  It was creamy, rich and the Chorizo pieces gave a nice texture.

Glazed Pei Mussels- Potato Mouselline, Chorizo, Smoked Almond

Our Entree choices included Chicken, Fish, Pasta and Steak.  Seeing as everyone at the table was a writer/food critic/blogger etc we were all more than willing to give each other tasters of our dishes, so I had a chance to try them all.

The Chicken was wonderful.  It was flavorful, juicy and had crispy shallots on top that gave a nice textural element. I didn’t really notice the mushrooms, but I only had a small section of this meal and it may have been more prominent if i’d eaten the entire dish.

Organic Rocky Chicken- Crispy mushroom, Chicken Jus, Shallot and Chive

The Halibut was fantastic, my favorite of all the dishes.  It was light and flaky, not at all fishy or dry and the grilled asparagus was an excellent accompaniment. Bacon pieces and an Onion relish gave a light sweetness that was a nice addition for the fish also.

Wild Alaskan Halibut- Grilled Asparagus, Bacon and Onion Relish

The pasta dish was a ‘Linguine with Clams’ which I found a little too citric for my tastes and had almost a white wine vinegar flavor going on, everyone else seemed to enjoy it but it wasn’t what I expected. The steak was good, the meat was tender and well cooked and the vegetables were tasty but the dish itself didn’t Wow me, it was just OK.

Prime Rib Eye “Cap”- Charred Onion, Borderlasise, Salsa Verde

Drinks paired with the meal were all great and bursting with interesting flavors.  My favorite was the drink that paired with the Halibut called ‘Friar Fresh’.  It was such a simple but easy to drink beverage and had just the right combination of sweet from the honey and citric from the grapefruit.  I highly recommend ordering that drink.

Friar Fresh- Plymouth Gin, Velvet Falernum, Lemon Juice, Honey, Grapefruit juice

At the end an array of desserts appeared, including Doughnuts (made in house).  The doughnuts were delicious, and reminded me of beignets but with crystalized sugar as apposed to powdered sugar.  They came with a creamy irish coffee cream dipping sauce that tasted like a thick version of Baileys. Yum!

The best dessert in my opinion however came in the form of ‘floats.’  I could (and probably will) write an entire post on these floats alone. The ice-cream mixed with bitters was just divine.  It was creamy, sweet with just the right amount of a bitter twist at the end of each sip.  The chip was also tasty, and the Mexican coke gave it a nice bubbly sweetness.  Both reminded me of ‘Ice Cream Sodas’ I used to drink in the summer in England, they were refreshing and will be a great drink to sip on in the sunshine.

Fernet and Chip Float- Fernet and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream on Mexican Coke

Bitter Float- Peychauds bitter ice cream on Sanbitter Italian Soda

Overall the entire meal was a huge success in my opinion.  I have returned to Sadie on several occasions since it opened, with the intention of writing a review, however I never really had any dish that excited me enough to write about it.  This tasting evening, with the addition of Chef Mark gave me the kick to want to write about them.

The food is no longer good, it’s great and the drinks having always been nothing short of excellent, are now truly outstanding.  This place should be packed with customers and as soon as word really gets out, I believe it will be. From the gorgeous decor to the friendly staff, the romantic ambience and now the food that matches the fantastic drinks…this is nothing short of an excellent night out.

5 out of 5 Coupes

Drinks get my highest rating now, due to the addition of the truly imaginative and incredibly tasty floats.  All the bartenders know their drinks from Classic to Contemporary, everything i’ve tried has been balanced and interesting.

4.5 out of 5 Platters

All of the dishes and cocktails I described in this post are currently available for Spring time at Sadie.  If you haven’t been already, I suggest you make your way over there soon, if only to enjoy one of the delicious floats on the patio.

1 Comment

Filed under Events, Great Food, Speciality Cocktails