Tag Archives: beverly hills

Drink of the Week

Market DayThe Market Day

  • 2oz Plymouth Gin
  • 3 Cucumber slices
  • 1oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4oz Simple Syrup

Muddle cucumber, shake and double strain all ingredients in to a coupe glass.

Garnish: Cucumber slice

OOOOOH I love cucumber! It’s so refreshing, crunchy and light in flavor. I have also discovered that I love it in my cocktails, as I have had a few cucumber style martinis recently that I really like.

The above recipe was my drink of choice last week for my birthday celebrations. It was created by Brandon Ristaino for the ‘Mixology Bar’ in The Penthouse at Mastros.  For those who don’t know, The Penthouse is the fabulous new third floor addition to the already successful Mastros restaurant in Beverly Hills.

This drink is very tasty and probably my favorite on their menu right now. It is subtly citric with refreshing cucumber notes. The gin used is Plymouth which is very light in juniper flavors so is a great option for someone who tends to lean towards vodka as a base but wants to start trying Gin. This drink definitely does have a sweetness to it that I always love, but it is nicely balanced with the sour elements too.

Definitely worth a trip to The Penthouse for this one, or if you’re not in the area try making it at home.  Will be great when the summer months roll around, just so nice and refreshing.

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It’s SCARY!!!…how good these taste!

The pumpkin is carved, costume created and candy is placed in bowls ready for eager children’s hands…Yep, Halloween is upon us!

The time has come for me to put up some of my favorite ‘Halloween’ inspired mixed drinks, to get you in the mood…

Scary Classics

Corpse Reviver #2

  • 1oz Gin
  • 1oz Cocchi Americano
  • 3/4oz Cointreau
  • 3/4oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 Bar-spoon (1/2tsp) of Absinthe

Garnish: Maraschino Cherry

My first thought when I heard of this drink was ‘What about the Corpse reviver number one?!’ Apparently there are several drinks with the ‘Corpse Reviver’ name, but almost anyone who has tasted more than one would argue that this is the most palatable and balanced version.

The first publication of this drink can be seen in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book’, 1930.  It is a drink that could supposedly raise any dead drinker on the morning after and was designed as a hangover cure (hence the name).

The original recipe calls for Quina Lillet, which is no longer in production. Many bartenders make the error of using Lillet Blanc in it’s place, but this is not the same at all. Cocchi Americano is the most authentic to flavor as the original would have been, which is why I have added it to the above recipe.

Blood and Sand

  • 1oz scotch
  • 3/4oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 3.4oz Blood Orange Juice
  • 3/4oz Cherry Heering

Garnish: Orange peel

I just learnt today that whenever ‘Sand or Sandy’ is used in a drink name before prohibition, it almost always refers to the use of scotch in the drink.

This drink is a little sweeter than the others (probably why I like it!) but very tasty and beautifully balanced with a rich orange flavor. It’s rare to find a cocktail with Scotch that works with lots of other flavors, but this one does.

The origins of this drink date back to 1922 when it was named after a bullfighter movie ‘Blood and Sand’ by Rudolph Valentino.   The red juice of the blood orange in the drink helped to link it with the film. This recipe also first appears in print in The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930.

Satan’s Whiskers

  • 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2oz Grand Marnier
  • Dash orange bitters

Shake and strain in to a Cocktail glass.

There are two versions of this classic cocktail, one calling for Grand Marnier, the other using Orange Curaçao. The above recipe is considered the “straight” version, while the other is known as “curled”.  No idea as to the origins of this drinks name but it has an interesting mix of flavors. The orange is prominent but there is a bitterness to it and almost a peppery flavor from the gin, especially if you use something like Bombay Sapphire as the base.

I prefer the ‘straight’ version of this drink because it is slightly sweeter using Grand Marnier, but both versions are nicely balanced.  This is yet another cocktail taken from The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930 by the way. I can’t get enough of Harry Craddock this Halloween!

Pumpkin Drinks

Zucca

  • 2oz Pisco
  • 1tsp Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4oz  Juiced Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Butter (Trader Joes)

Shake and strain in to a tall glass with ice.

  • Top with 1 oz Weinstephaner (Wheat Beer)

Garnish: Orange peel dusted with cinnamon

‘ Zucca’ is the Italian word for Pumpkin and is another of Greg Bryson’s drinks from his 2o12 Fall menu at Hostaria Del Piccolo, Santa Monica. I honestly thought the use of so many strong flavors like coconut, ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin and beer would taste really off balance and kind of messy. The end result is the complete opposite though! The flavors work well together and compliment each other beautifully.  Unlike most pumpkin drinks i’ve had; this one isn’t overly creamy and rich, instead it is refreshing, slightly sweet and surprisingly balanced.

The recipe is understandably a little difficult to recreate at home,so if you find yourself in Santa Monica this Autumn definitely pop in to Hostaria to try this tasty option.

 Great Pumpkin

  • 2 oz Pumpkin ale
  • 1 oz Rittenhouse Bonded rye
  • 1 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
  • 1/2 Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 whole egg

Garnish: Grated Nutmeg

This creamy, pumpkin cocktail was created by Jim Meehan of PDT for his Fall menu in 2008.  It captures rich Autumnal flavors perfectly by using apple brandy, maple syrup and pumpkin ale. According to the ‘PDT Cocktail Book’, 2011 they named it ‘Great Pumpkin’ as a reference to Charles Schultz‘s masterpiece ‘It’s the Great pumpkin, Charlie Brown’, 1966.

Meehan suggests Southampton pumpkin ale, but honestly any good brand will work.  Using a whole egg makes this drink a ‘Flip’, and although a lot of people are put off by the thought of an egg in their drink, I have to say it’s honestly not so much a taste factor as it is mouth feel. When shaken well the egg creates a deliciously creamy foam, and that fluffy topping is the best part of the drink in my opinion! It basically tastes like a pumpkin egg nog.  The nutmeg gives a great nose too, this is just a perfect drink for fall.

If you want to try it somewhere special this recipe is currently available on the drinks list at The Penthouse @ Mastros in Beverly Hills.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you… Go carve your pumpkins and get in the mood for October 31st!

  

!!!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN !!!!

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Drink of the Week

Stay up late

  • 1 1/2oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1/2oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Brandy
  • 3/4oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4oz Simple Syrup
  • Topped with 3oz Soda Water

Garnish: Luxardo Cherry and Orange Wheel

I recently visited Mastros Steakhouse in Beverly Hills.  The new rooftop restaurant ‘The Penthouse at Mastros’ has it’s grand opening this evening and I felt it was important to share this info with my readers!  The beauty and difference of this third floor addition is the inspiring mixology program and hand crafted cocktails that have been put together by Brandon Ristaino and Andrew Trauth.  The upstairs adds more of a cocktail lounge feel to the usual Mastros set up and is described as giving ‘sensual sophistication’ to the dining experience. The Penthouse is a really gorgeous space and I am very happy to be a part of it’s opening.

Having had a chance to sample all of the current cocktails I felt compelled to write about the above one. It’s so simple, yet so delicious! A very refreshing, slightly bubbly but delicate drink, with a gorgeous sweetness from the brandy and subtle orange notes.  Plymouth works beautifully in this drink because it’s not a strongly flavored Gin, there is no intense juniper taste so it’s a great option for vodka drinkers to start enjoying Gin.

There are a number of great cocktails on the menu (I will be talking about them more in coming weeks) and I highly recommend stopping in for a drink when you’re next in Beverly Hills.  Yes, Mastros is known for being expensive and this is still the case but the quality of drinks you will be getting at The Penthouse makes it well worth a trip to the top floor.

Hope to see you there!

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Sprinkles Ice Cream!

Ice Cream
9631 South Santa Monica Boulevard,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
 

“I scream, You scream, We all scream for Ice Cream!”

Having only just reviewed the Sprinkles ATM a few months ago, I was shocked to discover yet another new addition to the Sprinkles portfolio.  ‘Ice Cream’ is the latest sweet tooth’s dream on Beverly Blvd.  The grand opening was yesterday so I anticipated a long line but was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn’t overly busy.

Entering a white room I saw the ice cream and topping choices listed on the wall beside me. The inside is certainly attractive (in true Sprinkles style) with red calligraphy scribble style writing on the ceiling. The only negative about the appearance is the menu placement which seems awkward in its positioning.  When a line forms inside it’s hard to see the options because they aren’t written anywhere else in the building, just on the side wall as you enter.

Sprinkles ice cream is handcrafted using Straus organic dairy and i’m told the flavor options vary daily.  This particular trip the options were: Red Velvet, Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan, Vanilla Bean, Coffee Fudge Almond, Pistachio, Dark Chocolate, Cherry Vanilla, Mint Chip, Peanut Butter Cup, Rocky Road and Strawberry sorbet…WOWZA! That’s a lot of choices.  They only allow two tasters, so be sure to choose wisely!

I tasted the Butter Pecan first and although it was good, it wasn’t like a traditional butter pecan that i’m used to. The pieces had a saltiness to it that I quite liked but although it was tasty, I just wasn’t in the mood for a full cup.

My second taste was the classic Red Velvet, which was so good I decided to go for it as my ice cream of choice.  I went all out and had it in a red velvet cone to match too!  The cone was great and had a very sweet and rich chocolate flavor.  The ice cream is slow churned to incorporate less air which results in a densely creamy dessert.  Having said that it did seem like a simple vanilla base and not a cream cheese flavor (which I think would have been more unique). The main feature were the delicious chunks of sprinkles red velvet cake which were moist, rich and delicious.

The toppings and sauces available include Hot Fudge, Salted butterscotch and Marshmallow Cream to name a few.  There are also Cookies, Ice cream sandwiches and options to buy a ‘Pint for later’.

As summer is quickly approaching I can see this new addition to the Sprinkles family becoming another huge success.  What I tried was certainly good, but I have to say the main appeal of the flavor I chose were the pieces of cake within it which made me think…I should just go to Sprinkles and get a cupcake!  Seeing as it was just next door, that’s exactly what I did.

I’m sure I will return to Ice Cream to try other flavors in future, but I have to say that the original Sprinkles Cupcakes will always have my heart!

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Sprinkles at all hours?…Yes, please!

Sprinkles Cupcakes
9635 South Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
310 274 8765
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Unlike my usual reviews this is not for a fine Los Angeles restaurant, a fun filled Hollywood event or an exciting new Mixology bar. It is in fact a review about a bakery that serves “little pieces of Heaven” 24 hours a day, in the heart of Beverly Hills.  I am talking, of course, about the delicious Sprinkles Cupcakes.

I have been coming to this location (the original) since the first month I moved to Los Angeles, and the irony is that I don’t actually like cupcakes normally. I’m serious, cake in general is not my favorite dessert because it is often either too spongey or too dry for my tastes, and the style of frosting isn’t the same in the States as the butter icing I like in the UK.  I am true to my ‘fussy’ name when it comes to cupcakes.  So how did I end up at Sprinkles? Well, 4 years ago I saw an episode of ‘Girls of the Playboy Mansion’ in which Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend (now ex) Bridget went there and got a cute little box of cupcakes for a party, as well as mini ones for her dogs.

So in true tourist fashion, when I first move to Los Angeles it was one of the places I went to have my photo taken at.  I didn’t think i’d like it much but when I took my first bite I couldn’t believe what I tasted.  Sprinkles cupcakes are ALWAYS soft, moist and fluffy cakes with the most incredibly sweet but creamy style frostings. I became an instant fan, so much so that when I lived in the South Bay I would still drive the 35mins+ drive to Beverly Hills just to get my favorite (Vanilla Milk Chocolate) and drive back home. They really are that good.

Word to the wise, if you don’t like sugary treats so much then this may not be your thing.  The one complaint (that you’ll never hear from me) that i’ve ever heard of these cupcakes is that the frostings are too sweet, but I think they are just right and there are some other flavors like the Red Velvet with a less sugary cream cheese icing.

History

Sprinkles Cupcakes Company was founded by Candace Nelson and her husband in 2002.  After visiting ‘Magnolia Bakery’ in New York they decided they could do better and decided to open their own cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills. Candace is said to have stated;

 “It was time for cupcakes to stop being the back up dancer to cakes”.

After endorsements from celebrities like Paris Hilton, Tyra Banks and Barbra Streisand (one of their first customers) Oprah Winfrey got hold of a box and requested 300 more for her “Breakfast with Oprah” show in Chicago.  The next day sales went up 50% and have continued to have a stream of constant customers ever since.  The thing about this place, in my opinion, is that many people go there because of the press it gets, but almost everyone returns because of the product.  When the quality is there, people will come!

The bakery building itself is sleek and minimalistic in design, painted a simple chocolate brown with a neon pink ‘icing font’ Sprinkles sign in the far corner. The packaging is also simple and elegant and anyone who knows them would recognize the jagged edges of a Sprinkles sticker anywhere. The brand now has 10 locations throughout the United States, with plans to open in 15 more cities including London and Tokyo. The Nelsons also started a traveling “Sprinklesmobile”, a Mercedes Sprinter van that i’ve seen driving around.  They sell a line of cupcake mixes, t-shirts and other merchandise with their logo on at their stores.

New to the Beverly Hills location just this past week is the cupcake ATM. Wait, what was that? Yes, you heard me right. They added an ‘Automated Teller Machine’ that shoots out cupcakes instead of money.


Cupcake A.T.M

I couldn’t leave on my last visit without a purchase from the new ATM.  I thought I would document the occasion step by step for all those interested.  It’s pretty straight forward.  After waiting in line (and there will be a line) you get to a bubble gum pink machine that reads ’24hour Sprinkles’. A fun and girly song about Sprinkles cupcakes is playing, then you touch the screen and are given a list of your cupcake choices.

  1. Scroll through the choices of cupcakes available at the machine
  2. Click on the cupcake of choice. (I went for the Irish Chocolate seeing as it’s nearly St.Patricks Day.)
  3. Read the detailed description of cupcake you’ve chosen
  4. Confirm selection
  5. Pay with a debit or credit card
  6. Watch a live video feed of a suction arm collecting your chosen flavor
  7. Collect your beautifully boxed cupcake from the tray
  8. Enjoy it’s deliciousness!

                

They bake and fill the machine all day then an extra 600 is added to stock up through the night time.  Funnily enough my friend in the UK was shocked when I told her this and said “600? They can’t possibly expect to sell that many in a night”, from the looks of things so far 600 cupcakes may not be enough.

I was going to go the other night at 1am until I saw a tweet by blogger Caroline on Crack saying “wtf? This late? I wonder when there won’t be a line. @Sprinkles ATM has a line around the block! Insane.” It doesn’t surprise me that much.  There is almost always a line outside the Sprinkles bakery itself, partly due to the small size of the building but mainly because of the sheer number of customers.  I am told people are coming by at 3am after the bars close to get a sweet fix before they head home.  That’s actually sort of how this idea started too.  The owner would crave cupcakes in the middle of the night (not drunk though, she was in fact pregnant!) and would be upset that the store was closed.  She decided there should be an option to get them at all hours. Proved to be a genius move because now the ATM is in operation it is clear that it is going to be a success.
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Flavors

The flavor option availability changes daily, although classics like Vanilla Milk Chocolate, Red Velvet and Black & White are always being made. They also try out new and seasonal flavors all the time and with St.Patricks day around the corner they created an ‘Irish Chocolate’ which is what I got on this trip.  It tasted like it had a subtle Whiskey flavor in the frosting as well as vanilla notes throughout the cake. There are too many options in rotation for me to review, although I think I have nearly tried every one of them.  The choices are in the picture at the bottom of this post and they put a little sticker next to those that are available that day. Check out their Facebook for daily deals too.

I am going to talk quickly about my favorite flavor here the The Vanilla Milk Chocolate.  This is the one I get by the box load for my birthday and parties, it is by far my favorite although the boyfriend finds this flavor to be on the sweeter side.  It comes with the option of sprinkles of no sprinkles. I always say do the sprinkles, but each to their own.

Vanilla Milk Chocolate– Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with fudge milk chocolate frosting

The cake has a hint of vanilla to it and is soft and moist. The chocolate frosting is like no other i’ve found in the States. Sweet, creamy and fudgy. Pure chocolate decadence. It is just a perfect little cupcake and saves well too. These cupcakes don’t taste terrible the next day, my boyfriend actually prefers them a day old.  So there you have it. Sprinkles Cupcakes are so far the best i’ve found in the World.  In fact, my writing of this review has given me the bright idea to head back there right now and get one! If you’re in the area…I suggest you do the same.

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Urth Caffé – Beverly Hills

Urth Caffé Beverly Hills

267 S. Beverly Drive

Beverly Hills

(310) 205-9311

This is probably my favorite little lunch time spot in all of Los Angeles. Unlike most of the places I review, this place has nothing to do with cocktails but is all about the food and coffee; it is after all, a cafe.  The mindset behind this place is organic, and they are strict on the rules of this in particular with the coffee. The first location (on Melrose) has won numerous awards including  ‘Best Environmental Coffee House’ by Coffee and Cuisine Magazine and ‘#1 Coffee Restaurant In Los Angeles’ by Los Angeles Magazine.

Established in 1989, Urth Caffé is America’s first exclusively organic coffee company.  They work directly with a limited number of sustainable coffee growers who produce the finest organically grown coffees available in LA. They also have a great selection of fine teas from selected tea sources, including their own tea garden!

They opened the first café located at 8565 Melrose Ave in 1994, and this location in Beverly Hills opened in 2003.

It is first come, first served place and the courtyard fills up quickly so try to arrive at least half an hour before you want to eat…just in case there’s no seats. This isn’t like a Starbucks though, it is rare to see someone ‘hogging’ a table with their laptop and one coffee for 4 hours. You stand in line (next to delicious looking cheesecakes, buns and pastries) then order, pay and take your designated number to a table.

Please Note: You can’t save a table without having ordered your food first, so don’t try. I personally love this rule because it protects the ‘first come, first served’ policy.

Ok so what to order??…Well, I always get the same thing here to be honest. The small portion of the salad with chicken and pesto is my favorite for a light lunch. Sounds pretty mundane and boring I know, but it’s surprisingly filling and really flavorful. The pesto is divine here and they always grill the chicken perfectly. It’s a very simple dish obviously, you can add candied walnuts (at your request) and I suggest you do that because the candied walnuts are absolutely delicious here, they really are like little rocks of candy and seriously crunchy. This salad comes with a side of bread and butter too. I am a sucker for decent bread in this city, because I find it so hard to come by.  Being from Uk I often forget how spoiled I was being able to get a great crusty baguette from the local supermarket that actually tasted like it would in France. In general I have found the bread to be not that good in California, I have had amazing sour dough bread in San Francisco…but sadly in LA I find it really is hard to come by. The bread at Urth Caffe is pretty darn good though.

Entree Salad: Fresh local mixed greens, Roma Tomatoes, Urth Vinaigrette and served with fresh bread and butter. Chopped Grilled Chicken breast w/ Pesto. Half Salad $9.50

Panini Roasted Turkey: Butter roasted turkey breast with Jarlsberg swiss cheese. Grilled on a poppy seed crusted honey wheat bread, served with whole grain mustard sauce. $12.95

FG tends to get the Turkey Panini for lunch. The turkey is always moist, never dry or overcooked. The bread is toasty and delicious with poppy seeds, there’s a layer of cheese that melts in with the meat and the grain mustard sauce is creamy with just the right level of mustard seeds. Very flavorful sandwich and comes with a light side salad.

DESSERT!

Having been several times for dessert alone, it is necessary to have a whole section of this review dedicated to my favorite course! They have home made pies, like Deep dish peach, cherry or apple pie.  They have a fantastic Tiramisu and a divine selection of cheesecakes. The Oreo Cheesecake and the 3 layer chocolate with Espresso Cheesecake are my favorites and both fantastic. They are very rich and creamy, so you will almost certainly want to share!

The Chocolate pound cake and the orange blossom pound cake are also very good. They don’t skimp on size either. We ordered a slice of each of the cakes, I thought ‘wow $5 a slice is pretty steep, it better be good’ turns out you get 3 slices for an order! Thank goodness for doggy bags in this country!!!! The Orange Blossom pound cake was delightful, really there isn’t a better word to describe it. Fluffy, soft with just a hint of citrus without being over bearing orange flavor. The chocolate was also very good, but more decadent and rich. I ended up putting the two flavors together and creating a chocolate orange slice. If you’re not calorie counting, I highly recommend! 🙂

Other than the teas, I like that they have a great selection of other beverages for the ‘non-coffee’ drinkers. I often get a chocolate milk or a chai tea latte, which I like because they offer almond milk or soy milk for those who don’t want regular.  You can add Boba (tapioca balls) to any drink which is not usually available at coffee shops and they have a really tasty hot chocolate.  All the chocolate drinks taste like real cocoa as apposed to fake chocolate flavorings, you can literally taste the quality of the food and drink here.Another thing I love about this place is the fact that the straws are all biodegradable, at last there’s a place that understands the disastrous effects plastic has on the environment. The bus boys work really hard here, they will happily answer any questions you have and are really quick to clean the tables when you’re finished.

All in all this place is a great location and they are open for dinner as well. I recommend parking up the street (before Charleville Blvd) in the structure. It is just a short walk and the first 2 hours are free, saves looking for a spot.

 I rate this wonderful cafe 5 out of 5 platters!

The food, service and prices are all fantastic. I have been several times and it is never below excellence. The desserts are delicious and they use only good organic, sustainable farmed ingredients. Can’t get much better than that!

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