Tag Archives: Hollywood

Did you have to go to college for this?

I hate to do this to all my lovely bartender and “Mixologist” friends but this video is pure genius! Check it out and have a good laugh. ūüėÄ

La Descarga (where it was filmed) is one of my all time favorite bars too, so not sure what that says about me! haha… In all seriousness, keep up the good work guys. Some of us love going to Mixology bars and life wouldn’t be the same without you.

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Drink of the Week

French 75

  • 1 1/2oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • Fill with Champagne

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Today I found myself celebrating Bastille Day at Bagatelle in Hollywood. ¬†Bastille Day¬†is the name given in English-speaking countries to ‘French¬†National Day’ which is celebrated on the 14th of July each year.

In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale and commemorates the storming of Bastille Fortress-prison on 14 July 1789.  The act of storming Bastille was seen as the uprising of the modern nation during the French Revolution and has been celebrated every year in France on the Anniversary of the event, since 1790.

They had created quite a party at Bagatelle.  Girls were dancing on table tops, French flags where flying everywhere and champagne was flowing heavily!

Zach gets in to character!

Zach Patterson¬†(Head barman)¬†had made an interesting version of the French 75 for the party and used ‘Lavender¬†honey’ instead of simple syrup, which added an interesting floral note to the drink.

Both recipes (Zachs and the original above) are very similar in taste. ¬†They’re both refreshing, bubbly, sweet and slightly citric drinks. Great options for Summer and a nice alternative to plain champagne for celebrations.

If you feel like getting in on some French action yourself this evening, have a go making the above recipe at home or head in to Bar Chloe in Santa Monica where they’ll be making them all night (for those who know to ask!)

Oui, Oui… ont une bonne soir√©e!

¬†(Yes, Yes… Have a good evening!)

Happy Bastille Day!

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An ABSOLUTely great event

As many of you will have noticed, I haven’t had a chance to write my blog in a while. I’ve been working, drinking, traveling,¬†eating, drinking, at industry events and yes, more drinking! I finally have a little time to report back on my experiences before I head to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail in 2 weeks. ¬†There will be new posts going up shortly so be sure to check in again soon.

In “Fussy One News” I would like to let you know that another piece of my writing has been published in this months issue (July 2012) of The Tasting Panel Magazine.

This is the second time i’ve been fortunate enough to have my words in print (See May issue) and I was thrilled at the chance to cover the ‘Absolut Stuga’ event that was held in Hollywood last month.

I had been planning to attend the Stuga event long before I was asked to cover it for the magazine, so I was even more excited to be there when I had the task of interviewing bartenders and industry professionals (most of whom are now my very good friends!) ūüôā

I have been to several Absolut events in the past so knew it would be a fun occasion, because if anyone knows how to throw a good party, it’s definitely Absolut. ¬†This event was certainly great fun and entertaining, however it differed from previous years because there was a far more prominent focus on education regarding the product and it’s development this time.

Experts from Sweden, London and New York had been flown in to teach us about the process, distillation and marketing behind the iconic brand. It actually made for a very informative and interesting evening, and completely different to what I had expected.

Time for some product tasting

I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised to learn so many facts about the brand that actually impressed me. As most of my readers know, Vodka is not my go-to alcohol of choice, mainly due to the fact I find it to have no real flavor profile. ¬†However, I was throughly intrigued by the history and ‘one source’ philosophy that Absolut adheres to.

Did you know that the winter wheat, the purist water, the distilling, bottling and packaging for Absolut all takes place in one very tiny region in Sweden?! It literally all comes from ‘one source’…near the city of √Öhus in¬†Sk√•ne County, Sweden.

A small community of local Swedish farmers, millers and workers are the team behind one of the biggest Vodka brands in the World, which I think is really quite remarkable.

Toby  Cecchini makes his Cosmo

I have a new found respect for the company as a whole especially when I heard first hand that some of the farmers have worked with the brand for over 25 years.

I admit, I always assumed Absolut was just another big brand that was only popular because it was pushed by clever advertising, however the Stuga event (named after Swedish cottages) was designed to shed new light on their product, which it certainly did for me.

I also hadn’t appreciated that the flavored versions of their product use no false or added flavorings.

They steep 100% real fruit in the vodka making it a far more subtle flavor but not fake tasting like many of it’s flavored vodka competitors.

The Absolut tasted great in the cocktails that were on offer throughout the evening, I particularly enjoyed ‘Our Man in Zanilla’ which was sweet, floral and very refreshing.

Our Man in Zanilla- ABSOLUT Vodka, Manzanilla Sherry, Elderflower Liqueur, Grapefruit Zest

The event was spread over 2 days at Paramount Studios. Day One was for industry only and Day Two (yes, I did both!) was open to the public.  We ate unusual foods prepared by Animal restaurant, learnt a thing or two about the brand, drank punch, had t-shirts printed, told stories and danced the night away to the DJ.  A great experience that everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed.

Check out the article I wrote for the magazine by clicking here and seeing the online version of the July issue.  My piece starts on page 67 and is a 3 page photo essay about the Absolut event.

Marcos and Vincenzo hug it out!

You can also subscribe for the printed version of the magazine from their website, which I highly recommend for those with a serious interest in the alcohol industry.

Please note the photos in this blog are my personal photos from the event, however the ones used in The Tasting Panel article were taken by Erica Bartel.

*   *    *

Again, big thanks to the Editors of Tasting Panel (in particular,¬†Rachel Burkons) for giving this little British blogger another chance to have their work published…I hope to work for you again soon.

A continued thanks to all my Fussy Readers too, I still can’t believe how many of you there are and I appreciate the support.

KEEP FOLLOWING, DRINKING AND TRYING NEW THINGS!

The Fussy One ūüôā

 

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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 ‚ÄėTending Bar‚ÄĚ, 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!

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Bagatelle

Bagatelle
755 north la cienega
Los angeles, CA
90069

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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-¬†Jalape√Īo¬†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 3 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.

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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.

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Drink of the Week

Kentucky Ninja

  • 1/2oz Japanese Single Malt Whisky
  • 1 1/2oz Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3/4oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4oz Lavender-infused wild honey

Garnish: Lavender Sprig

Shaken & served in a glass rinsed with Peychaud’s Bitters.

I discovered this drink at Sadie and wrote about it in my review (here).¬† Having been back to this great bar in the past few weeks, I got to enjoy it a couple more times and decided it was good enough to be ‘Drink of the Week’.

I personally find it really easy to drink because it is refreshing, floral, definitely strong but balanced and slightly sweet.  If you have the elements available to you at home I suggest you have a go making it. If you find yourself in the Hollywood area be sure to stop by Sadie and taste the original. The recipe above was created by Giovanni Martinez in collaboration with FutureGreg and the Sadie Bar Team.

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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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Amuse me with your drink names!

A guy walks into a bar with jumper cables. The bartender says, “You can come in, but don’t start anything!”

This week ‘The Fussy One’ (i.e me), has been all over Los Angeles and at more tastings, restaurants and bars than ever before. ¬†I have so much to write about and catch up on, but looking out at the glorious sunshine here today I have decided I am going to start my real reviewing tomorrow and instead put up something ‘light and fun’ for the week-end.

Please note:¬†This is a list of drinks that have a humor factor (name or story) I felt compelled to mention. ¬†I pride myself on my research in to drink origins usually, but many of the drinks in this post are told from ‘a friend of a friend’ and so the original creators are much harder for me to track down. ¬†There are many ‘amusing drink names’ out there but i’m not here to talk about the obvious ‘Screaming Orgasm’ or ‘Slippery Nipple’ shots, although these are sadly drinks that are ordered daily at many bars across America! The drinks in this post don’t contain ‘Peach Schnapps’ or ‘Apple Pucker’, they are more of the ‘Mixologists answer’ to pre fabricated spirits and artificial flavored silly named drinks!

First off I should say how the idea of ‘silly drink names and stories’¬†began. ¬†On Thursday night I ended up at Sadie in Hollywood (food review coming soon) when my always funny friend behind the bar asked;

“Would you like Ryan Gosling in your mouth?” l responded with “Excuse me? Would I like who in my mouth?!”¬†with a cheeky smile he replied “Would you like a drink consisting of ‘Rye’ and ‘Goslings’? What did you think I meant?”

Everyone at the bar laughed. Needless to say, i’d never heard of that drink and thought it was very funny and clever. Thus began my research in to other ‘amusing drink names’ of its nature.

Rye ‘N Gosling

  • 1oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1oz Goslings Bermuda Rum

Served neat.

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Actually not a bad combination, but pretty strong and not for someone who likes sweet mixed shots like myself. ¬†I have to admit I do have a very sweet tooth and sadly do like some of the drinks out there with artificial flavorings. ¬†I would never dream of ordering them at a mixology bar though, it is a complete insult to the¬†barman’s¬†skill and knowledge to do that. ¬†At a dive however, I see nothing wrong with the odd ‘Washington Apple’. My boyfriend cringes at the thought but those kind of drinks aren’t for sipping¬†leisurely¬†on whilst enjoying the ambience. In general these are shots taken quickly in a dirty dive bar to get drunk quickly and get the hell out!.

Maguey after Amaro

  • 1 1/2oz Calle 23 Repasado
  • 3/4oz Romazotti
  • 3/4oz Fresh Lime juice
  • 1/2oz Agave nectar
  • 1 Egg White

Shake hard with one big ice cube. Serve in a tumbler.

Garnish: 3 Dashes of Miracle Mile ‘Forbidden Bitters’ on top

Bar man FutureGreg of Sadie and Bar Chloe in Santa Monica came up with this one (name came from the help of Dave Fernie of Harvard & Stone) when we were talking about drink puns and I thought it was pretty smart too. ¬†Sounds like the ‘Day after Tomorrow’ when said quickly and is an accurate¬†description¬†of the drink ingredients. ¬†Agave Americana is commonly known as¬†maguey, or¬†American aloe¬†and is a plant found in Mexico used in the process of creating Tequila (they use blue Agave for Tequila). Romazotti is an Amaro.

Statutory Grape (Basically a red grape Gin collins)

  • 4 Grapes
  • 2oz Gin
  • 1oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4oz Simple Syrup
  • Fill with soda water

Shake and Strain. Then fill with soda water. Serve in collins glass

Garnish: Grapes

This drink name, i’m told, was created by bartender Dave Fernie from Harvard and Stone¬†(he apparently has several great names like this up his sleeve) however I wasn’t able to get a hold of him in time for this post and am not 100% certain of the accuracy of the drink itself. ¬†What I have put up is basically a red grape Collins. ¬†‘The Collins’ is a drink dating back to Jerry Thomas and was first memorialized in writing in 1876 in his book “The Bon¬†Vivant’s¬†Companion and How to mix drinks’. ¬†This “gin and sparkling lemonade”¬†drink was typically served in a Collins Glass¬†over ice. It is really refreshing and a great one for summer!

Finally, I am going to end with a drink I hope NOONE ever orders. ¬†It is a story that just made me smile so made it to the list. ¬†I have a friend who works in a bar in Manhattan Beach, I asked him of any ‘funny drinks’ he’d heard of recently and proceeded to tell me this story:

“One of my bartender buddies in New York had a customer come in and order¬†“A Lindsay Lohan on the rocks”.¬†Being a mixology bar he said¬†“I’m sorry sir, we only make classic cocktails and pre-prohibition style drinks with fresh fruits here, besides I have never heard of that drink anyway”. ¬†The customer turned to his friends and said¬†“They can’t make that here”¬†Out of curiosity the bartender said,¬†“I’m sure I can make you something better but humor me, what’s in a Lindsay Lohan?”¬†The customer smiled and responded,¬†“Well, it’s a red headed slut with a splash of coke”.”

Needless to say, the bartender didn’t make it for him but thought it was pretty funny all the same and so did I. For those who don’t know, a ‘red headed slut’ is a nasty drink with jaegermeister in, the addition of coca cola is purely for the joke of the drink i’m sure.

Lindsay Lohan

  • 1 1/2oz¬†Jaegermeister
  • 1 1/2oz Peach Schnapps
  • Fill with Cranberry juice
  • Splash of coke

Pour over ice, stir, and serve.

Garnish: Cherry

No joke, this has to be the most disgusting drink ever created. ¬†I have not, and hopefully will never, try this. I urge you to heed my warning! I really dislike¬†Jaegermeister (has a¬†licorice¬†flavor) but with coke and cranberry together? Yuck! This drink is on my site for the story behind it and NOT for it’s drink quality!!!

Anyway hope this made you smile! Go enjoy the sunshine if you’re in LA today ūüôā

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The Jameson Bartenders Ball 2012

Event: Jameson Bartenders Ball 2012

@ Vanguard NightClub

6021 Hollywood Blvd

Hollywood, 90028

323 463 3331

The Jameson Bartenders Ball was on Monday 27th February 2012 in Los Angeles and turned out to be an extremely fun night for all who ventured out to Hollywood. Held at the Nightclub Vanguard, this was my third year at the Bartenders Ball, but I do believe it may have been the best so far!  Unlike the usual places I talk about,  Vanguard is a night club as apposed to a bar and has the feel of one large warehouse with a stage, bars and tables surrounding a dance floor.

The place itself is huge with a variety of side rooms and an outdoor patio/garden for smokers.¬†Their website describes the venue as;¬†‘Huge. 17-foot side walls and a 25-foot apex..The stage, flanked by a semi-circle of large video screens, hosts live acts. ¬†Gyrating bodies on the spacious cherry wood dance floor invites onlookers from the VIP balcony above.” ¬†I couldn’t put it better than that, it was exactly as described.

I am not really in to nightclubs anymore, and feel really old saying “the music was a little loud for my liking” but truth be told I am done with my Hollywood clubbing days, i’d much rather be sipping on a clover club at a quiet bar. The music was ridiculously loud to the point where I could feel my body shake from the base out the speakers! Having said that, if i’m going to venture out in to club land…this was a pretty cool venue to attend.

The music line up was much better than previous years, after a good DJ there was a performance by ‘Young Dubliners’ which changed the tone to more Irish Rock, but was fun and certainly fit the Irish ambience. The band ’51/50′ were fantastic. ¬†They consisted of a DJ mixing the latest dance tracks whilst a drummer beat in time to them. ¬†It was an excellent show and got the whole crowd jumping.

The Bartenders Ball is a night out for bartenders only (and there are plenty of them in this city). It is an event sponsored solely by Jameson Irish Whiskey.  Every year it is held at a different location with lots of fun freebies and goodies on offer.

There were t-shirts being pressed with Jameson themes; A lady was airbrushing Jameson logos on to various body parts, there was a photo area for¬†professional¬†pics and cocktail servers bringing little hor d’oeuvres around including¬†delicious¬†mini burgers and my favorite, coconut shrimp on a stick. Being a Jameson fan, it’s a night I never like to shy away from.

The Sponsor

Jameson sells 30 million bottles a year making it the best selling Irish whiskey in the World and it’s easy to taste why.¬†It is smooth with no nasty burning after taste, there are strong nutty and vanilla notes and I find it to be sweeter than most Whiskies. ¬†It is the best in its price point in my opinion and unlike American whiskies, which are usually distilled once, and Scotch whiskies which require two distillations, Jameson is¬†triple¬†distilled in copper pot stills. ¬†The product¬†is made following the original 1780 recipe that uses malted barley combined with un malted barley and other grains.

I actually went to the original Jameson distillery in Dublin, Ireland with my boyfriend in 2009 and found it to be an extremely interesting experience. I strongly urge anyone who goes to Ireland to head over to the distillery.  They are no longer in production at the Dublin location, it has since moved to Cork, but either way the tour and museum were well worth the visit.  Ever since that trip to Ireland I have enjoyed Jameson more and more, on the rocks or with ginger (real ginger that is).

The choices of drinks at the event were limited to Jameson & Ginger, Jameson & Soda and Jameson on the rocks. ¬†They used the Jameson 12 year for these drinks, which although this was good it was nothing in comparison to the Jameson 18 year and Jameson Reserve available to VIPs in the back room. ¬†These were even smoother whiskies which I was happy to enjoy neat. ¬†I have to admit, the 18 year was so good I had probably one too many of those! ūüôā

Vanguard looked great with the ‘Jameson Green’ lights and decorations that adorned the room and the Jameson Irish Whiskey drinks were in full supply at the 3 open bars. This years theme was strongly influenced by the ‘Barrel Men’.

¬†There was a little info on a side plaque that read ‘THE STORY OF THE BARREL MEN ICON: Working at the Old Jameson Distillery in 1780 had the best wages and maintained the best working conditions of all distilleries in Dublin at the time. ¬†To this day you see two barrel men either side of the Jameson label. These two men¬†symbolize¬†the generations of loyal men and women who have distinguished themselves by their hard work and passion for the Jameson brand.” ¬†I love an event with a little history behind it, but I love one even more that has such a great product for free…and in copious amounts!

Dancing and drinking ensued in to the early hours and I had quite the hangover the next morning.

All in all the night was a huge success and I am even more excited to see what the Bartenders Ball organizers come up with next year. It will be hard to top this one. We’ll see…

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Cocktails to cure your ‘Oscars fever!’

As you probably know it is award season here in Los Angeles, so I thought what better way to celebrate the 84th Academy Awards this Sunday 26th February 2012 than learning about a couple of ‘Hollywood Classics’ (Cocktails that is).

In the 1930s when the likes of Ginger Rogers and Clark Gable walked the red carpet, there were a couple of drinks created here in this starry eyed city that deserve a mention.

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Embassy Cocktail
  • 3/4 oz Brandy
  • 3/4 oz Jamaican rum
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • dash Angostura bitters

Garnish: Lime wedge

Shake in ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

This cocktail from the 1930’s was featured at the late ‘Embassy Club’ in Hollywood. ¬†Adolph “Eddie” Brandstatter¬†owned a number of Hollywood hotspots in this era, including the Caf√©¬†Montmartre which was hugely popular with the movie stars of the day. ¬†When the stars complained about the hoards of fans bothering them (people would swarm around the entrance and stare at the patrons eating!) Eddie had the idea to knock a passageway from his place in to a newly constructed building next door and this new space became the exclusive Embassy Club.

It¬†was a speakeasy styled private venue that ‘Old Hollywood’ movie stars could go to escape from the crowds.¬†¬†Membership was restricted to¬†Brandstatter’s¬†closest friends which included many stars of the time including Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Jean Harlow and Howard Hughes.

Sadly, the move turned out to be a disaster for Brandstatter because the Caf√©¬†Montmartre lost it’s appeal. The public didn’t want to go there if they couldn’t see Hollywoods royalty. ¬†In order to try and save his businesses he opened Embassy Club to the public but this in turn meant the movie stars stopped going and Brandstatter ended up losing both businesses and filing for¬†bankruptcy. While it was around it is said to have been a beautiful location with a rooftop promenade and glass enclosed lounge with views of the Hollywood hills.

This drink has a great balance of sweet, sour and bitter.  I tried it for the first time this week-end and found it to be really quite delicious.  The Embassy Cocktail is currently a special on the board at Sadie, in Hollywood and will be available to order throughout this award season.

Classic Martini (Also known as the Bradford, Brighton or Gold Cocktail)

  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth

Garnish: Olive or a lemon twist

Stir in ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass

When I think of “Old Hollywood”, one of the actors that springs to mind is Cary Grant. ¬†It is said that Cary Grant’s favorite cocktail was the¬†Classic Martini¬†(made with Gin of course). Author Ian Fleming always said he based his most famous character James Bond on Cary Grant. ¬†James Bond had a reputation for living dangerously and making the wrong seem right, he also had to be different from the average Joe, so Fleming had his character always order this classic incorrectly…”Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred”.

A so-called ‘Classic Martini’ is actually really complicated so I won’t go in to it all now, ¬†however the original recipe does call for Gin, which is a much better option than vodka in my opinion. Many cocktail connoisseurs also believe that shaking gin is bad¬†because the shaking action “bruises” the gin (a bitter taste can sometimes occur). In Fleming’s novel¬†Casino Royale, it says ¬†“Bond watched as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker,” I advise you to order yours stirred, not shaken and always with Gin, not Vodka. Sorry James!

Hi Ho Cocktail (Also known as the ‘Highland and Hollywood Cocktail’)

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1 oz White port
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon peel twist
Shake in ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.
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The Hi Ho Cocktail was created in Hollywood, California in the 1930’s and named after the cross streets where the Academy awards are held each year- Highland and Hollywood (Hi Ho). ¬† First published in ‘World Drinks and How to Mix Them’ by William Boothby¬†in 1934. I prefer this to a classic martini because I am not a huge fan of vermouth. ¬†While red port is much more common these days, white port is still readily available so make sure you use it for this drink. A dry white port and a London Dry Gin are suggested.

Shirley Temple (non-alcoholic)

  • Ginger Ale
  • Dash of Grenadine (Original is made from Pomegranate based syrup)

Garnish: Cherry

This is a non-alcoholic cocktail named after one of the biggest child stars in history.  I felt the need to put this one on the list (despite its lack of liquor) for two reasons.

Firstly, Shirley Temple was definitely part of the old Hollywood scene. ¬†She was actually awarded a miniature Oscar for charming America with her singing and dancing in the midst of the Great Depression. She was given the award when she was just 6 years old “in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934.”and this ‘mocktail’ is said to have been created so that she would have something to drink when out with the adult Hollywood stars.

Secondly, many places today make this drink incorrectly using ‘Sprite’ instead of the original recipe that calls for Ginger Ale, ¬†be sure to ask for the latter when ordering, you won’t be disappointed.

REFERENCES

My research for this piece comes from many sources, but in particular I want to mention three great books I referenced;

1. ‘The Story of Hollywood’ by Gregory Paul Williams

2. ‘Elemental Mixology’ by Andrew “The Alchemist” Willet

and a fun read novelty book;

3.¬†‘Hollywood’s Favorite Cocktail Book – including the favorite cocktail served at each of the smartest stars’ rendezvous. Food and Wine Combinations.’¬†by¬†Buzza-Cardozo¬†published 1928.
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I hope you try and enjoy some of these drinks this award season, I have to admit I am not a big Martini drinker myself because in all honesty I find them too strong! I mean, they are for the most part almost straight liquor. I have not yet tried all of the drinks on this list, but am suggesting mainly for their Hollywood history.
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I don’t live too far from Hollywood Blvd but as a¬†picky drinker¬†I have decided it is my duty to force myself and my boyfriend to test these classics whilst watching the Hollywood excitement unfold on TV today. I suggest you do the same! ūüôā

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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¬†‚Äď Japanese Single Malt Whisky \ Bourbon Whiskey \ fresh lemon juice \ lavender-infused wild honey.¬†Shaken & served in a Peychaud‚Äôs 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¬†‚Äď 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 cr√®me de m√Ľre, on top. It was not¬†invented at Sadie of course, it was created in 1984 by Dick Bradsell, at ‘Fred‚Äôs Club’ in London‚Äôs SoHo ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚Äď Old Tom Gin \ fresh lemon juice \ cr√®me de mure¬†\ fresh blackberries¬†(Dick Bradsell, 1980‚Äôs)

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¬†‚Äď 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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