Tag Archives: Greg Bryson

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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Drink of the Week: Morning Sex

Not sure what kind of “spam” messages I am likely to get posting this drink name, but it’s too darn delicious NOT to put on the site!

Morning SexMorning Sex

  •  2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Lemon juice
  • 3/4oz Passion Fruit Puree
  • 1/2oz Masala Chai Syrup
  • 3 dash Peychauds Bitters

Shake and serve over a large ice cube.

Garnish: Orange twist or pansy flower

You can find this drink, among other greats, on the drink menu at The Wallace, Los Angeles- A fantastic new spot in the heart of Culver City. The food there is nothing short of exceptional (so much so, that I am coming out of my writing drought to discuss it!) and the drinks, although great already, will be getting a fresh spin in coming weeks from their new beverage director- Greg Bryson.

The drink listed above  is currently my favorite drink in Culver City.  From it’s memorable fun name to it’s accessible flavor profile, this drink has everything I could love in it.

The bourbon is subtle enough that any type of drinker can enjoy its flavor, no matter what their usual base alcohol preference is. It  has a delicious tropical sweetness coming from the fresh passionfruit juice, with no unnatural flavors to it (that tend to come from sweeter/fruity drinks.) It is refreshing, summery and makes me feel like i’m on vacation in Hawaii or the Caribbean when sipped on a hot day!

The presentation at The Wallace over a large ice cube also makes it an accessible ‘not too girly’ looking drink option for both men and women., which I think is very smart. In past few visits they have started to garnish it with a pansy (flower), which looks really pretty and a nice alternative to the orange peel.

I admit this recipe will be hard to reproduce at home, in particular the ‘chai syrup’ but it’s definitely worth heading in to The Wallace to try it on its home turf.  Whilst you’re there, try some of the food too…it’s all fantastic. I would write a review on the whole place right now, but I plan to go back for a 4th visit (in 2 weeks) to try even more food before I write about it. It’s just that good.

Delicious, Delicious, Delicious.

 

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Remember, remember the drinks of “Movember”!

For those of you who have boyfriends, fathers, husbands or friends growing magnificent facial hair for the month of November, but have never really known why, let me enlighten you.

prostate-cancer-movember

Movember“, is the month of November when men are encouraged to stop shaving their upper lip in order to increase awareness of men’s health issues.  The Movember Foundation was set up in 2004 (by some drunk Australians no less!) with an aim to create awareness for men to get check ups, which could lead to early cancer detection, diagnosis, effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths from Prostate and Testicular cancer.

Mo-Bros (Men taking part in the moustache growing) all across the World set up sponsorship funds on http://www.Movember.com and grow unsightly facial hair in order to raise money for cancer treatment as well as start a discussion about a very sensitive topic. Their slogan “Changing the face of mens health” is totally accurate, because I can’t tell you how many people have asked my male friends “is that moustache for Movember? What is Movember anyway?” this year. 

Only down side of the whole thing is, I personally hate facial hair. This year my man decided to take part, so I have been graced with the presence of a ‘ginger’ handlebar moustache for the past few weeks! I have to say, it was all worth it last Tuesday though, when he partook in a Movember Tiki event at La Descarga (one of my all time favorite bars in LA).La Descarga flyer

La Descarga has been doing Tiki Tuesdays for a while now, but the month of November has seen a percentage of those profits go to the Movember fund. Last week was sponsored by Bacardi Rum and the guest bartenders were Greg Bryson,  Gilbert Marquez and David Kupchinsky AKA Ol’ Man Winter.

Gilbert Martinez

Gilbert Marquez of El Carmen and Scopa made the following drinks:

Plantain Daiquiri-Daiquri

  • Bacardi 1909
  • Plantain Syrup
  • Lime
  • Vanilla

This Daquri which was a nice twist on a classic, the plantain gave a light banana flavor that worked well with the rum and vanilla.

La Guanabana- Bacardi 8, Cazadores, Lime, Maracuaya, guanabana, Mescal, Cinnamon, Bacardi Solera

Sangre Azul- Cazadores, Mezcal, Parfait Amour, Lime, Aguadiente mist

Greg Bryson

Greg Bryson, Bartender and Bar Manager of Coco Laurent and Hostaria Del Piccolo, put the followinh great drinks on the menu all with slang names for Moustache’s

The Lady Tickler- Bacardi 1909, Guava, Lemon, Honey, Angostura, Mint

Lip Weasel- Bacardi 1909, Jerk-Tamarind syrup, Lime

The Jerk-Tamarind syrup Greg made gave an interesting flavor that was very popular with guests, a little too spicy for me but overall a solid drink.

Captain Whiskers

Captain Whiskers-

  • Bacardi 8
  • Papaya Puree
  • Lemon
  • Pineapple

The Captain Whiskers was a deliciously tropical tasting drink and my personal favorite. It was sweet but refreshing too and I loved the flaming lime on top!

ol Man Winter

Ol’ Man Winter, Manager of Everleigh made a bold claim saying his ‘Hotel Nacional’ was the greatest…I have to say though, it was pretty bloody fantastic! Possibly my favorite drink of the night. It was sweet, balanced, strong, tropical and delicious. All words I like to associate with a Tiki drink.

World greatest Hotel Nacional-Hotel Nacional

  • Bacardi 1909
  • Apricot eau de vie
  • Lime
  • Pineapple
  • Sugar
  • Angostura

Worlds Greatest Singapore Sling- Bombay Sapphire, PX Sherry, Cherry Heering, Benedictine, Lime, Pineapple

The Gang

Overall the night was a huge success, the live band started to play and the whole bar was packed. It was wonderful to see such a support from the bar community for a great cause.

Three really strong bartenders killing it behind the bar at one of my favorite places in the city made for an amazing night. Great job guys!

If you want to donate to Movember, visit their website http://www.movember.com to learn more about how you can contribute.happy-movember-magnet

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Drink of the Week

Falls GoldFalls Gold

  • 2oz Rye Whisky (Templeton Rye)
  • 1/2oz Amaro Meletti
  • 1/2oz Organic Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 3/4oz Lemon juice
  • 1 Egg white

Shake once without ice, then shake with ice and strain in to a glass.

Garnish: Sprinkle of pumpkin spice (available at Whole Foods)

I can’t believe it, but it’s already that time again. ‘Fall’, ‘Autumn’, ‘The Golden Season’..whatever you want to call it, it’s here! It’s not so visually obvious in Los Angeles of course, seeing as we really don’t get a seasonal change with the leaves here, but at the end of October there is a definite change in the air.  Girls start wearing boots and scarves, snuggling by the fire sounds like fun and everywhere starts to smell like pumpkin spice and cinnamon!

This drink of the week is one of my new favorites, because it’s got that ‘Whisky sour vibe’ with a suitable Autumnal twist. The Pumpkin spice and maple syrup give it just the right feeling for the season, without being over bearing.  I have to say, I am the brilliant mind who came up with the name for this drink haha but the drink honestly tastes amazing too. The Amaro gives a hint of saffron that balances out the sweet and the egg white gives the fluffy texture I always enjoy in sours.

It is currently on the drink list at both locations for Hostaria Del Piccolo and was created by their beverage director Greg Bryson.

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The Fussy Bride

Yeah yeah, I know….I haven’t written in a really long time!

Life may have been getting in the way of my blogging, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out and about eating and drinking to my hearts content. Trust me, I definitely have!  There will be posts coming shortly on these places, but bare with me in the next few months.

For those fussy readers who don’t know me personally, I should let you know that I recently got engaged (YAY!) to my Beverage Director fiance who is usually mentioned on here as FutureGreg.

Wedding planning is extremely time consuming, but I am having the most incredible fun with it all.  To keep my readers in the loop, I thought it would be nice to put up the two Punch recipes that we provided at our recent Engagement party.  They were such a success, we intend on having them again at the wedding itself. Greg came up with both recipes, although I take credit for their wonderful names. 🙂

Image from stylemewhimsy.com

Image from stylemewhimsy.com

The Drunken Bride

  • 750ml No.3 Gin
  • 300ml fresh lemon juice
  • 300ml simple syrup
  • 100ml strawberry juice
  • 100ml cucumber juice
  • 200ml soda water

Serve in a Punch bowl over large ice cube.

Serves approx 14. Double ingredients (like we did) to serve more, obviously!

This punch was a HUGE success at the party. It’s refreshing, fruity and delightful as a summer drink. Greg made this on the sweeter side for me, and was designed with the girls in mind. Beautifully balanced and reminded me of a Strawberry lemonade. Easy to drink and even easier to get tipsy on!

Oaxocan Down the Aisle

  • 750ml Yorkshire Tea infused Mezcal Ilegal    (20 minute cold brew with 4 tea bags)
  • 300ml lemon juice
  • 300ml runny honey (2parts colver honey: 1 part filtered water)

Served over large ice cube. Serves 14

For those who don’t understand the humor in this name, Oaxacan is pronounced (wa-ha-ken) and is the name of the people from Oaxaca, Mexico.  It was created to pair my ‘British side’ (the English Tea infusion) with Greg’s Mexican side (Mezcal). 

Yorkshire Tea Bags +ilegal_mezcal_joven

This Punch was deliciously smoky with an interesting twist from the yorkshire tea, that I felt gave an almost creamy element to the drink and softened the Mezcal. I originally didn’t think the flavor pairings would work when FutureGreg suggested it, but it came out perfectly. Really delicious and original flavors.

Anyway, that’s all for now! Here is a photo of us at our Engagement party with delicious Sprinkles cupcakes.

Sprinkles

Enjoy!

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The ART of drinking!

Today I feel compelled to talk about a wonderful  member of the drinking industry in Los Angeles.

No, he is not a bartender, beverage director or blogger… he is an artist. One I have mentioned in the past, but have reason to bring up again today. I am talking about Matt Talbert.

Matt is an artist from Southern California who currently resides in LA with his lovely wife Ashley and gorgeous new baby Luke.

I have always loved art, both viewing the works of others and also creating my own. My mother is an artist, and most of my family is creative in one way or another.  It’s because of this I feel I have an appreciation for artistic skill that not everyone seems to share and seeing as truly great artists are few and far between these days, I believe the great ones need to be acknowledged because they are a vital part of any community.

Jason Schiffer

Matt Talbert is an exceptionally talented artist, in his own right, but he has made it to my food and drink blog because of his incredible skills in being able to capture bar images. He has painted a number of relevant bartenders in the LA scene, including Aidan Demarest, Mindy Kucan and Jason Schiffer…. to name a few.  The detail in which he captures facial expressions is wonderful, but his works of glassware and alcohol are my particular favorites.  I love how he captures glass and fluids so realistically. Flaming Mai Tai

I bought one of his pieces last year entitled “Double Strained” (which is the pink drink in the series of images below) I still adore this painting, however I wanted to show off my most recent purchase of his work.

Matt's work

Matt created the oil painting (below) of my boyfriend, Beverage director and bar man Greg Bryson, and myself (complete with the FussyOne Clover Club) in April this year. I love it so much that I felt the need to show all my followers too! For those who know him, he has captured Greg perfectly (the intense concentration when shaking is a definite Greg feature) and my loving gaze as I watch the love of my life work, many would say is pretty accurate too!Futuregreg and the fussy one

Matt is an artist I am always willing to talk about. The more works he creates the more impressed I am. Check out his other paintings (not just cocktail themed) at his website www.talbertart.com.

I believe Matt is on his way to being a World wide success and if you have the opportunity to buy one of his works whilst they’re still affordable… I say, do it!

Matt with his work!

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Eat Less and Taste More @ Hostaria Del Piccolo

Hostaria Del PiccoloHostaria Del Piccolo
512 Rose Avenue,
Venice Beach, CA
310.392.8822
 

I have been writing this post for a few weeks now, because I have a lot to say about this restaurant in particular.  I finally decided I need to put it up because all the other media seem to be beating me to it, and i’ve been coming here since opening day!!!  Reviews and press have just started to come out about this place (LA times did a feature and they have been mentioned on KTLA radio) and rightly so, it is a wonderful restaurant to get really well made Italian food. It is also a fun place to go with friends for a drink.

The space

The location I am discussing in this post is the brand new Hostaria Del Piccolo in Venice Beach, California. However please note that the same wonderful menu can be found at their original Santa Monica location on 6th and Broadway, I highly recommend checking out both as they have the same amazing food and drinks but totally different vibes.

Back of house

Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica has always been one of my favorite dinner spots, so I was excited when they opened this new location on Rose Ave (a really popular area for great restaurants right now.)

This location is much larger than the first and you really feel the openness when you first walk in. Their signature bright blue aprons can be seen on the staff dotted around the room and they’ve cleverly accented the bar with this color too which make it look young, fun and cool.

Blue lit bar

I actually really like the lighting in general at this place, there is a tunnel light that wraps across the ceiling giving it a modern vibe that works well against the wood communal tables.

Kitchen

The Kitchen is in open view to the customers so you can watch pasta being rolled and pizzas being made in front of you. This is an authentic Italian restaurant and the food is nothing short of fantastic.

Pamperdella   Verdura

The owner is Italian,  a lot of the staff are Italian and you feel its authenticity not only when you taste the food, but when you talk to the people there (many of whom are Italian). In particular I want to mention one of the managers Christian Bertolli, who is probably one of the most charismatic, friendly and delightful Italian men I have ever encountered.  All the staff are lovely here and the bar team are extremely knowledgeable on ‘real’ drinks and cocktails, due to their new Beverage director Greg Bryson who was hired to update the bar program at both locations a few months ago.

Greg Bryson at work

I have been to this new spot three times already and every time it is busier than the last. I am going to talk about some of my favorite dishes, however I am yet to find one I don’t actually like.  There are many more on the menu that are worth trying, but the ones below are my top choices.

The Food

GNOCCHI  ricotta-potato gnocchi, fresh tomatoes, basil, parmesan $15 ($6 on Happy Hour menu)

Gnocchi to me is best described as a potato dumpling. I imagine if pasta and potato had a baby, they would have a gnocchi! Most places I have tried gnocchi before I didn’t really like it too much.  I found it to be a stodgy and heavy dish, however this is not the case at Hostaria. Their Gnocchi (made fresh daily) is soft and fluffy, it is deliciously cheesy with a rich tomato sauce on top.

to go

It is also not a ridiculously huge ‘American’ portion. All the portions at Hostaria are just right, they take quality over quantity to a new level. In fact, their slogan is EAT LESS, TASTE MORE! In a country that is often over indulgent I really love this idea, I am always full when I leave and never have a doggy bag. The portion sizes are just right for a comfortable evening.

COSTICINE  roasted pork ribs, cannellini beans    $12

Ribs

When I am trying not to eat breads or cheese (so hard at an Italian place) this is my go-to dish of choice.  You get three delicious pork ribs that are perfectly seasoned and full of flavor but not covered in sauce, on top of cannellini beans which are filling without being over indulgent. A really yummy, simple appetizer.

GRIGLIATI  grilled fresh calamari, mild spicy Swiss-chard $12

Grilled Calamari

I am a big fan of fried calamari (which they also have on offer) however when you want something less greasy this is a nice appetizer option. The spicy chard gives an almost peppery spiciness to the dish. The texture is a little more rubbery than the fried version but really good nonetheless.

The Pizza

There are way too many pizzas on their menu for me to possibly discuss here, but I will name a few that particularly stand out. The main thing about their pizzas are the delicious thin crusts that taste freshly baked (because they are!)

There are white pizzas (without tomato sauce) as well as gluten free dough as an option, vegan and vegetarian choices. Some of the best i’ve tried so far are as follows…

FIGOS prosciutto, seasonal figs, mozzarella, mascarpone, vincotto $16

FORMAGGI mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, gorgonzola $13

ASPARAGI asparagus, egg, mozzarella, parmesan shavings, truffle salt $15

I want to keep going on the menu (haven’t even begun to touch on their other delicious pasta options, not to mention they also have a phenomenal brunch menu that has items such as Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes, Espresso rubbed Pork and Eggs and a Salmon Eggs Benedict to name but a few) but I have to talk about their drinks too.

The Bar

Greg Bryson created some delicious drinks for the menu and will be rolling out his Spring creations soon i’m sure. They only makes drinks using fresh juices and local produce (as is the only way these days) and Greg has stocked the bar with a wide range of Amari (beverage bitters from Italy) which is great for those who love bitter sweet digestivo.

I have mentioned several of Greg’s drinks in past posts, because they are excellent.  Acero was one of my favorites during Fall and is still available at both locations.

CuccioloThe cocktails on the menu are all great, but if you ask Greg (when he’s tending bar) to make you something ‘bartenders choice’ he always comes up with something fantastic whether it’s a classic made correctly, or something he makes up on the spot, he always makes sure his customers are happy.

IMG_8420All the bar staff seem focused and friendly and I am yet to have a bad drink at this bar.  Here are two other popular drinks on the current menu…

CUCCIOLO Plymouth Gin, St.Germain, cucumber, lemon $12

BLACKWORK ORANGE 100% Agave tequila, fresh lime, tangerine juice, agave nectar, black sea salt rim $12

This place gets 5 out of 5 for food. It is hands down one of my favorite places to eat because I love Italian and this is done to the highest degree.

5full (1)

Drinks easily get 5 out of 5. I have only ever had drinks made by Greg himself so I may be biased, but from what I can tell all the bartenders have been trained to make the drinks correctly too and the options are a great range for all tastes.

5full

This is a great ‘first date’ restaurant because it is fun and friendly, with a romantic edge without being overly loved up. Definitely stop by and see for yourself when you are on the West side 🙂

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