Tag Archives: bar

Holy Smokes!

The Cowboy Killer_MG_5673

  • Griffs Cowboy Whisky
  • Miracle Mile Chocolate Bitters
  • House made tobacco syrup

Garnish: Hickory Smoke and Orange Peel

Glassware: Small Mason Jar

I recently tried one of the most popular concoctions at The Wallace in Culver City, and it was so intriguing I felt the need to do a little post on it. If you live in close proximity (i.e. Anywhere in Los Angeles!) I highly recommend making the journey to the restaurant itself to have it made by its creator, Director of Beverages: Greg Bryson.

For my regular readers you will notice the format of this article is similar to past ‘Drink of the week’ posts, however I’m not including the amounts of ingredients in this one, mainly because the chances of anyone wanting to make this at home is very unlikely and also because the tobacco syrup took a long time for Greg to perfect (a few seconds too long steeping the tobacco makes it undrinkable apparently). There is also nicotine in the drink (not dangerous levels) but I would rather leave this one to the professionals and have you try the drink at it’s place of origin instead. :)Smoking The Cowboy Killer

There are a number of fantastic drinks on the current menu that Mr. Bryson has created, and although he says he usually tries to steer away from making any kind of drink that could be deemed “gimmicky”, this is certainly one of his show stoppers. Greg did point out that although the visual effect is great, the smoke is actually an important part of the drink itself. It creates an aroma that fills your senses when you take a sip and changes the flavors of the drink. “It isn’t JUST for show, there is a very definite reason for it’s addition.”

Reason or no reason, in my opinion the drink just looks seriously cool!

This Cocktail (and it really is a Cocktail in the fundamental definition of the word- Strong, Sweet & Aromatic) is sort of a smoky twist on an Old Fashioned. So many “twists” of classics keep popping up, but this is certainly a more unusual approach.  Greg smokes each drink in front of the bar guests using hickory wood chips in a Polyscience smoke gun and almost every patron at the bar pops their head up to watch the process when one is ordered.

The little mason jar (used as the glassware) quickly fills with a plume of smoke and is presented to the guest with the lid on. You can see the vapor swirling around in the jar so when they remove the lid a cloud of creamy white fog swirls up and it is at this point he suggests taking your first sip. The drink does contain tobacco, however it isn’t cigarettes you smell as the lid lifts…it’s more like a camp fire.

IMG_6480

The Cowboy Killer has a nice slight sweetness to it and the Griffs Cowboy Whisky compliments all the other elements in the drink perfectly. It isn’t too big for the non-whisky drinker to enjoy, and those who love any kind of smoky style drink (eg. Laphroaig or Mescal drinkers) will love this creation.

All in all, this drink isn’t only interesting to look at, but really great to sip on too. Stop in at The Wallace between Tuesday and Saturday to see Greg in person, but either way no matter when you choose to go in, I highly recommend you make a point of trying this wonderful tipple.

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Crafted to perfection

Craft
10100 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
90067
310.279.4180 
 

Monday date night last week led us to a restaurant just minutes from our house, yet neither my boyfriend (FG) or I had been there before.  The list of drinks and food on offer all looked appealing and appetizing, and the decor of the bar area was inviting and warm when we entered. We decided to sit at the CraftBar which is separate from the restaurant itself and has a different food menu, but we decided to mix and match and got a few bar menu items and then our entree from the regular restaurant menu.

FG informed me that the “Craft” team pay a purveyor a lot of money just to travel the country in search of the best produce for all three of their locations. Only the best, organic, fresh and seasonal products are used so the menu changes constantly with what is and isn’t available.

Front Porch: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Peach, Lemon and Iced Tea $11

I started the night off with the ‘Front porch’ drink after our bartender (Scott) pointed out that peaches were at their best right now. It was wonderful, like a deliciously peachy ice tea with bourbon! It was sweet, strong and fruity.

FG had the ‘Here today… gone amaro’ which was just as tasty as the name was imaginative!  FG best described it as a Manhattan with a subtle sweet bitterness at the end. Rabarbaro Zuca is an amaro made with Rhubarb, which I have only seen on a menu once before, ironically in my boyfriends drink ‘Maguey after Amaro’. I like it when places use unusual ingredients though.

Here Today…Gone Amaro: Old Overholt Rye, Chai Tea infused Carpano Antica Vermouth, Cio Ciaro and Rabarbaro $14

FG was intrigued by the number of Amari they had on the back bar, including the Cio Ciaro (he’d never heard of) which he sampled and described as having a burnt caramel flavor with a slow bitter finish.  Craft also makes a home made velvet falernum which was delicious, sweet and zesty.

Negroni Mio: Aviation Gin, Campari, Americano, Cocchi Vermouth di Tornio, Prosecco & Strawberry. $13

FG’s second drink was the Negroni Mio, this was a good drink, but not great. It sounded amazing on paper (they barrel aged the Negroni then bottle age it with strawberries), but the flavors really came through as simply a Negroni with aperol.

Many of the food options looked interesting but we started with the cheddar hush puppies that came with a smoked maple syrup to dip in. Delicious maple flavor from the sauce altho the puppies had little spicy kick to them.  The cheese didn’t come through for me but still the dish was very tasty.

Cheddar Hushpuppies & Smoked Maple Syrup $6

The risotto balls were also on the spicy side with a marinara type sauce named romesco, the crispy thin layer on the outside of each ball made them not too rich and another good starter dish.

Risotto Fritters & Romesco $6

They also brought a bread basket out with delicious breads in.  The dark loaf was incredibly different and hearty. In fact Scott gave us an extra loaf to take home, as he informed me it is the perfect bread to make french toast with the next day.  I loved the wooden box the bread came in too, the presentation of all the dishes was exquisite and although this was a slightly more expensive place than we’d usually go just for monday date night, it became clear very quickly why they deserved to charge so much.

For our main course we agreed on a steak (like always!) and decided to share the dry aged sirloin. When it arrived I realized just how incredibly large 22 ounces of meat is and worried we’d way over ordered!

We also chose some sides, the sugar snap peas (which i’m really in to recently, so sweet and crunchy) and the yukon puree.  I had wanted a potato but couldn’t decide what kind, Scott had said these were “deliciously decadent.”  Of course, alarm bells should go off when you hear a server/bartender describe something as decadent…it usually means, extremely fatty and high in calories.  We didn’t care though, it was an indulgent night.  

The potato was certainly nothing less than decadent! Creamy, rich and full of flavor.  It was like a very soft buttery mash but still had a lightness to it, I couldn’t eat too much but it paired beautifully with the earthy flavor of the steak.  I’m not sure i’d had dry aged beef before but it gave the meat a much stronger fuller flavor.  The meat came with a bone marrow on the side, which greg emptied out on to a piece of remaining bread.

I think bone marrow is definitely an acquired taste, it reminded me of chicken dripping my mum would keep to put on sandwiches after a roast dinner. Not that it tasted like chicken, it just had a very greasy and fatty texture that reminded me of that.  I didn’t like it at all, Greg devoured the whole bone full.

Roasted dry aged sirloin 22oz $56

Sugar snap peas $11

Yukon Gold Puree $10

To finish we saw the wonderful dessert list but felt too full to get anything (believe it or not, we had at this point eaten the entire steak and sides!!!). Scott brought us some little bites from the pastry chef which included some caramel popcorn and little nectarine upside down cakes.  They were the perfect touch of sweetness to end the evening.

Before we left Scott gave us a little pack of complimentary Craft Granola for the next day. FGs parents went the following week and were given some complimentary Craft muffins, it changes daily what you’ll get but I think it’s such a cute and unique idea to give something like that for breakfast. When we ate the granola the next morning (which was great) it had us remembering our wonderful evening the night previous. Very smart marketing move!

Drinks here get my rating of 4 out of 5 Clover Clubs.

My peach cocktail was fantastic, and FG certainly enjoyed his two drinks also.  Scott was professional and informative behind the bar, and the look of the place was welcoming and attractive.  The only negative of the drinks was the Negroni Mio that wasn’t as flavorful as the ingredients suggested, overall it was a close to excellent bar program. They also had an extensive wine list, for those not as excited by cocktails!

My Food Rating here is 5 out of 5 Platters

Overall this place had it all, relaxing music, a nice chill vibe and excellent professional service.  The food was fantastic, it was different and adventurous without being too overwhelming for a fussy person like myself.  The only negative, which i’m not even sure is fair to give, was the high prices of this place.  I hadn’t expected it to be on the higher end, having said that it really was worth the extra expense. The service really was amazing, and my boyfriends parents decided to go a few days later and had the exact same reaction. For that reason, this is the first place i’m giving 5 out of 5. Watch out Bottega Louie (our most popular location), Craft may soon take over as our favorite place to go for dinner in LA!

All in all, Craft (and Craft Bar) are an excellent night out.  I highly recommend anyone looking for a romantic, quality restaurant in Los Angeles to head there.

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The cost of creation

I recently watched the video above (courtesy of Liquor.com) and it got me thinking about a few things, in particular, the cost factor of going out and doing what I do.

All the restaurants and bars that my boyfriend and I visit produce some of the finest food and drinks you can get, this doesn’t always mean the menu is expensive, but often times it can be.

Many of my friends and family don’t quite understand the point of spending a huge portion of our paychecks on food and alcohol, but people often forget that it’s the overall experience you’re paying for not just the products. I may be fussy and certainly not rich, but I honestly have no problem spending my money on a good restaurant/bar. If I enjoy the atmosphere of a place, the friendliness of the service and the quality of what i’m putting in my mouth..I will happily spend a small fortune in one night!

I have recently heard many more people complaining about the ridiculous cost of cocktails at Mixology bars. Many customers think it’s a ‘rip off’ that a drink can cost anything from $12 to $20, and they always want the bartender to ‘hook them up’ by giving drinks away for free or adding extra alcohol, but as the video explains there is so much more to a quality drink than just mixing. Not to mention, adding ‘more alcohol’ often upsets the ratio and balance so the customer probably wouldn’t enjoy the end result anyway.

If you are the kind of person who would rather have a cheap vodka soda or a bottled beer that’s fine too,  just understand that a Mixology bar is not the place to get it!

“Mixology bars are like fine dining for drinks”

Having worked behind a bar myself, I have first hand experience of the horror of hand juicing boxes of limes only to yield a little over a quart of juice. You’d think managers would just buy their staff a juicer…this isn’t always the case.

My boyfriend is a Beverage Director so I witness daily, the time and effort that goes in to creating a new menu, inventing tinctures and working on infusions/barrel aged cocktails. This is also a factor to think about. The recipes on menus at these places aren’t thrown together in a blind frenzy, a substantial amount of time and money will have been spent on testing brands, factoring cost of products and experimenting with different recipes and ratios. At the end of the day, all the customer gets is a delicious drink in front of them but often doesn’t know the effort and preparation that went in to it’s creation.

The economy is bad, yes, but if you’re going to go to a nice place…understand what it is you’re paying for, and thank your lucky stars you’re not in Europe where the price is (no joke) double!

That’s all I have to say about that 🙂

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Interview with a Bartender: Gregory Westcott

Today my bartender of choice can be found, more often than not, in the South Bay area at the highly acclaimed ‘Manhattan Beach Post.’  

I went to MB Post when it first opened and liked everything about it.  I loved the decor, the innovative exciting dishes and the creative drinks list. The talented and knowledgeable Chef David LeFevre visited us during our meal there and impressed me not only with the glorious food but with his extremely hospitable attitude and friendly interaction with customers.

I will be back to review this restaurant in coming weeks, but for now here is an informal interview with Gregory Westcott, who is one of the great men behind the bar at MB Post and was featured on NBC’s Television Show (Season 1) of ‘Americas Next Great Restaurant.’ (Please note the photo used below was sent directly from Gregory but is copyright to NBC)

Gregory Westcott

Official Job Title: Mixologist/Bartender
Born: San Dimas, California
Currently resides: Manhattan Beach, California
Current Work locations:
Tuesday-Saturday 5-10.30pm
 

*****

Q & A


What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
 
Old Fashioned closely followed by a Sazerac, and when I say Old Fashioned, I mean the pre-prohibition cocktail…not the 1970’s ‘Whiskey Sangria” recipe.
 
What is your ‘Go-to’ liquor of choice?
Bourbon or Rye. I just love the complexity of the heat with the caramel and toffee notes meeting a nice barrel char. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. And I just feel like a man when I drink it. I don’t think you can feel that way with vodka.
 
Who is your mentor? or Who do you feel trained you in your area of expertise?
I learned this craft from every bartender who has ever made me a cocktail. I’m obsessive  so I do all the research I can on the cocktails that I enjoy and even the ones I don’t.  The team at the Post also heavily influences my cocktail progression; Sal Roses, Beau du Bois, GM Jerry Garbus and Chef David LeFevre. Every drink idea that we toss around has a little bit of each person in it by the time it reaches the menu…not literally though.
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
I’m fussy when it comes to eating on a daily basis; I try to eat pretty healthy, but when I go out all restrictions are off and there isn’t something I won’t try at least once…except Rocky Mnt. Oysters…I won’t try those!
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
There have been a few at the Post but the Lamb’s Tongue Salad stands out (it was amazing). I also tried a raw pig’s ear once (not so amazing). I love the Rattlesnake and Rabbit sausage at Wurstküche, which doesn’t sound unusual at all anymore.
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA? and Why?
Oldfields in Culver City. They do everything right there. The bartenders are humble and the product they give you is always inventive yet approachable. It feels good to be able to put the responsibility of your good time in a bartender’s hand and have them achieve that with consistency.
 
What is the best thing about what you do? 
There’s a moment when you are engaging someone at your bar and it transcends from the act of putting liquid in a glass to an understanding of my passion for making cocktails. People deserve to have the best drinks I can make and I strive for the connection we share when they appreciate that.
 
What is the Worst thing about what you do?
When someone asks if I’m a bartender or a mixologist and I have to justify a title. If I say Mixologist then I’m pretentious but if I say Bartender then I might not be qualified to design a cocktail menu and might lose some credibility in their eyes.  I’m trying to coin the term “Mixie” but you have to say it with a 1920’s accent.
 
If you were stuck on a desert island and could have a barrel of just one spirit, what would you want it to be?
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 yr old bourbon and hopefully Lindsay Nader would be stuck there too…only to make us cocktails of course.
 
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
I moved to LA to be a writer and the only writing I’ve been paid for are cocktail recipes but I really can’t complain about that.
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this new segment 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, need not apply!

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Wood & Vine

Wood & Vine

6280 Hollywood Blvd

Los Angeles,

323 334 3360

Monday date night with the boyfriend (FG) last week led us to Hollywood and the Bar/Restaurant ‘Wood & Vine’, named appropriately for its location on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Vine Street.  The restaurant is located in the historic Taft building (Just across from the Pantages theater and home to the first offices of Charlie Chaplin and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) I loved the decor as soon as we entered the building.  I have noticed a lot of restaurants in LA are placing random objects and antique looking items around their rooms as decoration.  Wood and Vine follows this trend.

A somewhat strange selection of items were on display behind the bar. There were jars filled with bizarre looking brown fluids, old books, pictures and statues.  The funny thing is, there was probably someone hired with the sole purpose of thinking up and finding all the objects in that cabinet and then making it appear random.

The restaurant area was larger than I expected and continued upstairs with a balcony overlooking the bar below, the courtyard was actually in amongst the buildings and it felt very urban but a little claustrophobic when looking up at them towering above you.  We decided to sit at the bar, as we tend to enjoy talking to the bartenders anyway.  We got Justin who was really friendly and started us off with two cocktails from the winter drinks list (which will change as it becomes spring).

FG got the Kentucky Cashmere and I got a classic Aviation.  I do like this as a drink, and although it was made well it wasn’t quite sweet enough for me (we all know my sweet tooth). When I asked Justin if he could make it a little sweeter for me, I was thoroughly impressed that he didn’t just dunk simple syrup in it, like most other bartenders would. Instead he increased the Creme de Violette and Maraschino liqueur which meant the drink was certainly sweeter but still maintained it’s balance.

The Kentucky Cashmere drink was interesting.  FG loved it because of the bitterness of the fernet, but I liked the undertones of cocoa I could taste from the chocolate bitters.  The Chai tea flavors were subtle but certainly noticeable.

Kentucky Cashmere- Chai & Vanilla infused bourbon, Jelinek Fernet, Chocolate chili bitters

Aviation- Gin, Maraschino, Creme de violette, lemon juice

Justin gave us food menus and I was pleasantly surprised by the pricing, totally reasonable if not on the lower cost scale. They had a Monday Menu special which is a 3 course set menu for $18 (which I am told changes weekly).  The deal sounded amazing but we decided we’d rather mix and match off the main menu instead.

The menu wasn’t huge but there were so many good entrees to choose from and such a range of styles I couldn’t quite work out what kind of restaurant it was trying to be… American, Italian, Asian Inspired, French…dishes included Chicken & Waffles, Pork Belly, Gnocchi and Mussels.  As a mix of genres however, it seemed to work well and was certainly popular. The place was pretty busy on a Monday night, but then again it is Hollywood.

We decided to split the Beet Salad to start. Small portion but really tasty. Goats cheese and candied nuts are my favorite items on a salad, and lucky for me this had both.  They were candied pistachios this time (which is a nut I have never tried candied before) which were very tasty, with a slight salty sweetness to them.  I tried Beets for the first time this night too! They were much sweeter and juicier than I imagined so naturally I enjoyed them.

Beet Salad- Market greens, Candied pistachios, goat cheese, sherry vinaigrette $10

FG went for the Baked Gnocchi and I went for the Flat Iron Steak.  My Steak was cooked correctly to my medium/rare specifications and the asparagus was just the right amount of grilled. The carrot puree was creamy, sweet and delicate against the meat. A fine addition, I only wish they had given me more puree because it was just a small drizzle. The compound butter on top was excessive (size wise) and not really necessary in my opinion, I barely touched it because the meat and vegetables had enough flavor without the need for the overpowering taste of butter.

Flat Iron Steak- carrot puree, grilled asparagus, compound butter $21

FG was loving his Baked Gnocchi so I decided to try a bite even though I really dislike the texture of braised meat. The dish reminded me of a meal my mum made me back in England called ‘Meat and Dumplings’, it was like a stew and I almost wanted a slice of bread to dip in the gravy like sauce. It had a definite comfort food taste to it and the Gnocchi were cooked perfectly-not too soft and not too hard. Gnocchi is often made with semolina, flour, egg, potato, water and salt.  For those who’ve never had it, the best description comes from my old room mate Bryan;

“If potato and pasta had a baby, it would taste like Gnocchi”

Baked Gnocchi- Braised pork, goats cheese $16

The meal portions weren’t huge so we ordered the scallops also.   In my opinion Scallops are really hard to get perfect, and although they did a decent job of this dish, they were only good and not excellent (not like the ones I had at Piccolo).  The grits were an interesting addition to the dish and were creamy with less of a cornmeal taste than usual, which I prefer.  They worked surprisingly well along side the seafood. FG liked the grilled squash it came with and said it was perfectly juicy, I didn’t care for it myself though and didn’t really feel it was needed.

Pan-Seared Diver Scallops- Grilled squash, creamy grits, market greens $18

Wood & Vine has a fairly extensive list (over 50 different kinds) of Whisk(e)y, arranged in the menu by Bourbon, Rye, Scotch, Irish and American.  This was extremely appealing to FG but seeing as we had to drive we decided to share a second drink and ordered the ‘Hunter’. I found this drink to be ridiculously delicious and so simple, just two main ingredients in fact.  I’m sure FG would have preferred the Whiskey straight, but I really liked the light cherry sweetness coming through the Rye, it took away any burn there might have been. It is a drink I will remember to order elsewhere in future. I liked it that much.

Hunter- Redemption rye, Heering cherry liqueur, lemon peel

We decided to finish off with something sweet and Justin convinced us to go for the ‘Pot de creme’.  Wow! A lot of places are doing a salted caramel flavor combination but not many i’ve tasted have done it quite as well as this.

The salty ice cream and the intense sweetness of the butterscotch complimented each other perfectly, and it was so rich, creamy and smooth.  We had a similar dish at Bottega Louie a few weeks back (review coming soon) but this one may actually have been slightly better.  We ordered a scoop of Whiskey Ice Cream to try too, which tasted like baileys to me but was also very good.

Butterscotch Pot de Creme-  salted caramel ice cream $6

Drinks get 4 out of 5 Coupes. (Ratings)

All the drinks were executed correctly (I witnessed all the bartenders stirring Manhattans for a good 2 minutes or more which always gets bonus points from me. I am impressed when a bartender takes the time to make a drink correctly instead of rushing, especially in Hollywood.) Our drinks were all balanced, and Justin gets extra points for the way in which he increased the sweetness of my drink.

Food gets a good 3.5 out of 5 Platters.

All in all this place had great food too. Service was timely, and even when they got a little rush at around 10pm they still made sure everyone was served or acknowledged without a crazy wait time.  The food was incredibly affordable and there was a nice range of dishes to choose from.  It loses a platter purely because none of the dishes (except maybe dessert) jumped out as being exceptional, they were just very good.

We will certainly be back however to see new additions to the menu and try the drinks list for summer when it comes out. If you’re in Hollywood and like a good drink and food without a huge price tag, then be sure to check this place out. You certainly won’t be disappointed.

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Big Bar Prom = Big Success!

Event: “Midnight in Paris” Prom 2012

Big Bar and Alcove Cafe  

1929 Hillhurst Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90027

(323) 644-0100

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For the second year in a row the Valentines Day Prom at Big Bar was a huge success.  Hosted by Eugene Lee and Dan Long, they also had Aidan Demarest of Neat returning as MC. This year the party theme was “Midnight in Paris”, and they went all out transforming their great space in to a Parisian paradise.

I should mention in advance I enjoyed the night even more when I was voted to be a member of the Royal Court, and later in the night was fortunate enough to go on and win (with my boyfriend FG) the title of PROM KING AND QUEEN!! It wasn’t fixed I swear, I just made sure to include the words “World Peace” in my speech, and tell the crowd Aidan would be buying everyone a drink if we won! Worked a charm.

I want to start with a big thanks to Eugene and Dan for making the evening such a success as well as the judges Jessica Borges (City Sip) and Whitney Olschwanger for picking us as Prom King and Queen. We really appreciated our prize of the beautifully romantic horse drawn carriage ride! I always enjoy meeting new and fun people in the cocktail community and the carriage ride was just an additional treat to an already great Valentines Day.

I had such a fun night (even before I won a crown!) and was impressed with the overall set up of the place.  They had a number of interesting drink concoctions, activities and foods. There really was something for everyone. There was a Punch Garden, a make-your-own-cocktail setup (partnering with Miracle Mile Bitters), and a French inspired specialty cocktail list created by Daniel Long.

There were Mimes, an Accordion player, French singers, Characuture Artists and a Prom picture station set up. Everything you could want to feel whisked away to France!

The courtyard was beautiful with fairy lights adorning the trees and the 17ft Eiffel Tower in the middle really added to the overall atmosphere of the night.  I can imagine that even without the tower the courtyard is a beautiful space to sit and enjoy cocktails. I hear they have a wonderful Sunday brunch with Mimosas and I can totally see this place being great in the day time too.  It was a chilly night, but they have a lot of heat lamps so we survived outside.

If you’ve never been to Big Bar or Alcove Cafe & Bakery (which I hadn’t until this event) let me paint a quick picture of the venue.  After passing through the  beautifully lit courtyard you enter a building which divides in to two spaces, Alcove Bakery on the right and Big Bar on the left. I couldn’t help but think “What an interesting mix of two genres…pastries and cocktails!”

            

It does feel like two distinct spaces but they complement each other in their diversity. Also, I can’t imagine anything better than stumbling out of a bar in to a bakery at 1 o’clock in the morning… It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘Bartenders Breakfast!’

I do plan to review this place again on a ‘normal’ night, because it had such a great feel to it and i’m told the food is very good. I would imagine this to be true as the ‘French themed’ Hors d’oeuvres I had at the event were truly delicious.  We ordered a selection of food items which included the Croque Monsieur (little cheese and ham baguettes-Delicious!), Angus Beef Sliders with avocado and crispy bacon (I believe they have these on the regular menu and I highly recommend. We ended up ordering 3 servings!), Crab cakes (a little spicy, but lots of flavor) and Goat Cheese stuffed Medjool Dates wrapped in Bacon (need I say more! Yum!).

* * * * * * *

COCKTAILS

As I mentioned above, Dan Long (Originally of First & Hope) put together a cocktail list inspired by the French theme of the night.  I started with the “Le Vie En Rose’.

First off, it was an attractive looking drink with lots of color, a large ice cube (I always love) and a  beautiful rose petal garnish.  It had a distinct floral taste throughout, was light but flavorful.  It was a pleasent drink overall, but just a little sour for my liking. I’m not sure what their ratio is at Big Bar but I found the majority of drinks to be a little on the sour side for me.  Having said that, ‘Le Vie En Rose’ definitely grew on me the more I sipped it and I found myself finishing the whole thing with no concern for a lack of sweetness!

Le Vie En Rose: Hudson white Whiskey, Rhuby Liqueur, Lime, Honey, Rose Essence

FG had ‘Le Cercle Rouge’. I enjoyed certain aspects of this drink. Hendricks Gin is one of my favorites, and like the ‘Le Vie En Rose’ drink this too had subtle floral flavorings in it, although was slightly more citric from the lemon.  It was a well balanced and interesting mix of flavors, sadly I just cannot get myself to like the taste of absinthe no matter how hard I try! FG certainly liked it though and devoured it quickly.

Le Cercle Rouge: Hendricks Gin, Solerno, Lillet rouge, Lemon, Absinthe

The champagne cocktail section was the most interesting to me and one of my favorite ‘areas’ of the event.  You had to pick your sugar cube (brown or white), then your bitters (from a large selection of Miracle Mile Bitters. that included Chocolate/Chili, Castilian, Gingerbread, Peach, Forbidden, Valentine and Orange)  and then decide between Rosé or Sparkling wine.  FG created a drink for me and decided to go for the ‘Valentine Bitters’.

The flavors were strawberry and rose, they smelt romantic and girlie to me, like strawberry blossom. These particular bitters were created especially for Big Bar by Louis Anderman (founder or Miracle Mile Bitters Co.) and were a “first attempt” he says, created just weeks earlier specifically for Prom.  In my opinion they turned out pretty darn good for a first shot! The strawberry notes and floral elements complimented the bubbles perfectly. It ended up being the simplest, but possibly the best drink I had all evening. I will be doing an interview with Louis in the next few days, so be sure to check back to the site for that!

After my deliciously simple champagne cocktail I used my drink ticket (which was a bargain at just $8) to try the punch bowl in the back courtyard.  The punch was refreshing and had a splash of prosseco on top. It was also a little sweeter (from the Disaronno) than all the other drinks of the night, which is always a plus for me and my sweet tooth!

Le Punch Drunk Love: Disaronno, Bourbon, Lemon, Cinnamon, Fig Tea, Bubbles

In conclusion, even if I hadn’t won a crown, I would have thoroughly enjoyed my evening at the Big Bar Prom and I know all the friends and colleagues that came with me had a great time too. We all got charactures done, (which were hilarious because they looked nothing like us) and had ‘prom style’ photos taken. I will be at Prom 2013 handing my crown over to the next King and Queen!

For those of you who came to the event and had Prom style photos taken, be sure to collect them HERE. Coming soon!

I’m giving Big Bar Valentines Prom (and this is a rating JUST for the event):

 

3.5 out of 5 Clover clubs for Drinks.

I liked the cocktails a lot and the variety was good, but they were all a little too sour for my palette and I preferred the champagne cocktail bar and punch to the cocktails I had. The service was super slow (although to be fair it WAS an event so it’s to be expected) but overall the drinks were balanced and well thought out selections, Dan Long always does a good job with that, and FG enjoyed everything he tried. I’m sure the regular bar on a ‘non-event’ night is excellent and I will be sure to comment on that in my next review.

 

4 out of 5 Platters for Food.

The food rating is one of the highest because the bar bites we got to try were all excellent, especially the sliders. I am excited to return to order food off the regular menu and also get my hands on some of those pastry, cakes and chocolates!

I will be returning again to see this location in the day time soon. If this event was anything to go by, the place is worthy of a second visit and I recommend you to give it a try!

Here are some photos that I borrowed from the Big Bar website…check out more on their facebook page.

Above photo Left to Right: Dan Long, Eugene Lee, Aidan Demarest

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Sadie (Bar Review)

Sadie

1638 North Las Palmas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028 

323.467.0200 

This new place just opened in the last few weeks in the space where the infamous nightclub Les Deux used to be. It is no longer part of the club

scene and the area seems to have been cleaned up drastically. The owners spent thousands of $$$ ripping out the court yard and remodeling the inside. The end result looks wonderful. I really appreciated the brass top square bar, which is so unique in this town that seems to open bars constantly with marble counter tops. The brushed orange/brown metal makes it feel more rustic and old. I am sure as the bar is continuously used and dirtied it will add even more character to it.  I am told their inspiration/concept was “Steam Punk, think ‘Jules Vern’. When looking around the room at the mix of metals, old saloon style attire on the bartenders and bizarre black and white (creepy) photos on the wall, in my opinion the place reminded me more like the movie ‘Cowboys & Aliens’!! The most attractive feature that stood out to me, besides the brass bar, was the gorgeous wood panelling on the ceiling. The ‘orange/brassy’ color palette of the place make for a warm and inviting bar and restaurant, there are black and white framed images on the walls that change as you walk past them…cute idea, but honestly just creeps me out! Big thumbs up for doing something different though!

The cocktail list was pretty impressive. All bespoke syrups and fresh ingredients. I will be doing a repeat review at a later date for the restaurant side of Sadie, I was there for the opening party and sampled drinks only on this visit.  The drinks I did try were fantastic. Giovanni Martinez was in charge of the drink program here (he did the drink programs for ‘Fig & Olive’, Hollywood and ‘Buffalo Club’ Santa Monica) with the help of his extremely talented bar staff, which include Greg Bryson, Head Barman at ‘Bar Chloe’, Daniel Parino from ‘Fathers Office’ and Jade Warner from ‘Next Door Lounge’.

I tried the ‘Kentucky Ninja’ first which I enjoyed so much I had it again before leaving, it was well balanced and an interesting mix of flavors. Bourbon was the base, which is certainly not my ‘go to’ liquor of choice but worked beautifully against the lavender-infused wild honey (which the bartenders infuse in house).

Kentucky Ninja – Japanese Single Malt Whisky \ Bourbon Whiskey \ fresh lemon juice \ lavender-infused wild honey. Shaken & served in a Peychaud’s Bitters rinsed glass.

The next drink I sampled was a ‘La china’. My friend liked this, however it wasn’t my favorite. I really wanted to like it, even though, to be perfectly honest I don’t enjoy the flavor of Tequila. I liked the idea of it. Lychee black tea infused tequila blanco sounded wonderful, but when I tasted it the tequila over powered any attempt to taste the tea or lychee elements and therefore I didn’t like it too much. It was balanced and everyone else around me enjoyed it. If you like Tequila a lot, you are bound to enjoy it!

La China – lychee black tea-infused Avion Silver Tequila \ fresh lime juice \ organic agave syrup \ Velvet Falernum \ shaken & served up

After these new drinks I decided on a classic Bramble. This has a summery and refreshing taste to me and Sadie’s version uses muddled

fresh blackberries as well as the blackberry liquor.  The bramble is essentially a short gin sour with crème de mûre, on top. It was not invented at Sadie of course, it was created in 1984 by Dick Bradsell, at ‘Fred’s Club’ in London’s SoHo — although it is remarkeably similar to Jerry Thomas’ Gin Fix from his 1862 cocktail guide. Method is the same, prepared over shaved ice and fruit of the season on top. The only real difference is the fact ‘Blackberrys’ aren’t specified and no Creme de Mure. Anyway, it is a refreshing drink nonetheless and was made well here.

Bramble – Old Tom Gin \ fresh lemon juice \ crème de mure \ fresh blackberries (Dick Bradsell, 1980’s)

I didn’t get to sample but was intrigued by the Gran Prix mix of gin and beer! I am not a huge beer drinker (even though i’m from the UK) and even less so of Pale Ales…far too hoppy for me. However, I would be interested to hear how this tasted if anyone tried it. Message me if you enjoyed it and what worked/didn’t work with it. Here is the drink profile for those interested…

Gran Prix – Chrysanthemum-infused Beefeater Gin \ honey syrup \ fresh lemon juice \ shaken & finished with Racer 5 IPA.

All in all my experience at Sadie was excellent. The bar staff seemed extremely competent and every drink, by each individual bartender (I made a point of having drinks made by different people this night) came out balanced, beautifully presented and well made.

It gets my rate of  4.5 out of 5 Clover Clubs.

Service was fast and efficient, bartenders were knowledgable and new decor was interesting and attractive. It really is an excellent staff and bar program, and hats off to them for opening in the heart of “Head to toe Ed Hardy, Grey goose martini drinking ‘Les douche’ area”  They bring a clear level of sophistication to the area and hopefully will inspire that sort of client to try something new. I did and I loved it.  The half point missing from excellence was due to the odd music choice of the night, the tequila drink I didn’t care for  and the ‘les douche’ style people that attended that evenings event. I am almost certain the DJ and customers for opening night were not the usual, so this is likely to increase to a full 5 experience on second inspection. I will definitely be back.

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