Tag Archives: Mixed drinks

The Parish awaits…

The Parish
840 S. SPRING ST. (AT 9TH)
LOS ANGELES, CA 90014
213 225 2400
 

*****

Before I write this review I feel it is vital I mention how opposed I was to going to The Parish. Not because I’d heard bad things, but because i’d checked the menu online a few times and nothing ever appealed to me. Pigs ears, Fried Olives, Bone Marrow and Chicken Liver are words that tend to steer me away from a place,  I mean come on, I am the fussy one!

The boyfriend (FG) said we had to try it because our dear friend Edwin Cruz, originally of Tlapazola Grill, was working behind the bar.  It is always great when we see Edwin because not only is he as informative as he is friendly, he’s also a very talented barman.  I grudgingly agreed to give it a go, but was somewhat concerned I wouldn’t like anything on the food menu.

We arrived on a typically ‘urban’ street (dirty) in Downtown, and I once again worried at our choice for the evening but when I saw the entrance I was pleasantly surprised how pretty it was.  Fairy lights around the trees lit the way, then after going upstairs I found myself in a spacious and attractive restaurant, with a HUGE bar. I say huge because the depth of this bar is incredible, the most work surface space i’ve ever seen for a bartender.

 

I decided to start with the ‘Black bee’ which at first I thought would be a ‘beer-tail’ (a drink that tends to have majority beer and minimal anything else) but it was actually the complete opposite.

It was an interesting cocktail with a splash of stout at the end. It was great. Incredible mix of flavors from the lemon, bourbon and stout. They all came through in different waves. It had a sweetness as well as a slight bitter hoppy taste from the beer, there was also a little fruity flavor but not sure where the fruit notes were coming from. Cismontain imperial stout and Telegraph porter were the beers used and they gave some dark coffee notes too. I felt somewhat tipsy from this one drink, the mix of beer and liquor obviously got me buzzed…makes sense, being called ‘The Black Bee!’ (yeah I know, super cheesy, but it’s true!)

The Black Bee- Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Honey, Stout $12

We started with the Chicken liver on toast. Yes, you heard me, CHICKEN LIVER. At first I thought the portion was a little small for sharing, but after a few bites I understood it’s size.  It was very rich and flavorful, had a slight gamey taste but nothing too obtrusive. It was a soft rich pâté on a crunchy piece of toasted baguette, and was actually a very enjoyable dish. To be honest I was proud of myself for trying liver at all.

Chicken Liver Toast- With Bacon and Armagnac $12

FG’s first drink was the ‘Queen Anne’s revenge.’ He loves his twist on a Negroni and this was no exception. Really bitter drink with a lime nose that was interesting and seemed to keep the whole drink fairly balanced. Not for picky drinkers like myself but great for FG. The rum used was 151 lemon hart, very strong and very tasty.

Queen Annes Revenge- High Proof Demerara rum, Campari, Sweet Vermouth $13

When I read FG’s drink name I realized that the majority of the menu was inspired by England.  The whole menu had a British Gastro Pub feel to it with several uniquely British dishes such as ‘Fish and Chips’, ‘Lincolnshire meat pie’ and ‘Sticky toffee pudding.’ I felt quite at home!

Fried Chicken- Brussels sprouts, Date Vinaigrette $25

I’m not a big fan of greasy fried food anymore, but when Edwin suggested the Fried Chicken and every review we could find on The Parish from the bloggers, Yelp and Foursquare said to try it we decided we had to give it a go. I’m so happy we did.

The meat was tender and juicy, with a buttermilk battered crispy skin that wasn’t at all greasy just seasoned perfectly. It came on top of cold Brussels sprouts and dried arugula that made a delicious salad underneath. The date vinaigrette had actual pieces of date in it which added a touch of sweetness to the whole dish. Totally scrumptious!

   

Celery Root Mash- With Harissa Butter $7

We decided to order some celery mash to go alongside. OMG! this was also delicious. The Celery flavor was there but it wasn’t overbearing and the dish had an interesting texture like creamy mashed potatoes mixed with grits.  It worked with the chicken beautifully and the Harissa butter on top gave yummy spice flavors. The whole second course ensemble was serious comfort food and I loved every bite.  It was absolutely ‘finger licking food’ and at one point FG caught me cleaning the plate with my finger, I wanted every last drop! Just Excellent.

Being a true Brit myself I felt compelled to try a true Brit dessert, sticky toffee pudding. This version had dates in it, we all know how fussy I am about bits in dessert and sadly, the pudding didn’t work for me with the date pieces, but the flavors were good and FG devoured what I didn’t eat so it can’t have been bad!

Sticky Toffee Pudding $7

We finished with ‘The Nightshift’ because it seemed like a great option for an after dinner drink. It was very bitter from the espresso but the chocolate came through at the end which was nice.

I couldn’t taste the bourbon that distinctly because it was masked by the bitterness of the coffee and fernet. Not a bad drink at all, and I’m sure it would appeal to the after dinner espresso drinkers.

The Nightshift- Bourbon, Czech Fernet, Espresso, Milk, Pu-Erh Tea and Chocolate syrup $13

I am giving the drinks 4.5 out of 5 coupes.  I really enjoyed my drink and FG loved his two, they were executed perfectly by Edwin and the mix of ingredients for each drink were interesting.  John Coltharpe, previously of Seven Grand, created the bar program here and I think his choices were fun and different.  The mixed drink menu is varied and a grand selection of beers on tap makes this a great location to take any of your friends. There is something for all tastes.

I am giving the food 4.5 out of 5 Platters.  Every bite of what we ate was delicious, but admittedly I felt the menu to be a little daunting and if I hadn’t been in the mood for fried chicken i’m not sure what I would have had.  All in all this was a great night out though, and the menu forced me to try new things (which is what this blog is all about).  The music was fun and the place itself had a nice vibe. Trendy but still romantic, I really liked the atmosphere.  We will definitely return soon.

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Drink of the Week

Ramos Gin Fizz (AKA New Orleans Fizz)

  • 2 oz Old Tom Gin
  • 1/2 tbl spoon fine sugar
  • 3/4 oz Lemon juice
  • 2 drops Orange Blossom Water

Shake in a mixing glass half full with ice, then add:

  • 1 oz Whipping/Heavy Cream
  • 1 Egg White

Shake continuously for a long time then strain in to a Fizz glass (no ice) and top with Club soda (or Soda from a siphon)

Garnish: Orange Slice (optional)

This will be my last post before flying to New Orleans on Wednesday for my second year of Tales of the Cocktail.  I will attempt to “Blog as I go” at Tales this year, however back-to-back seminars, tastings and multiple parties will make “writing time” difficult to come by, but oh how i’ll try.  It seems appropriate to put up another NOLA classic to mark the start of TOTC tomorrow, and this stands out as one of my all time favorites. As some of you may recall I wrote about a punch my boyfriend made a while back that was based off the above recipe. (see here)

Henry C. Ramos is said to have invented the Ramos gin fizz in 1888 at his bar, the Imperial Cabinet Saloon on Gravier Street, New Orleans. Although, there is some suggestion that the drink already existed under the name New Orleans Fizz.  One thing I know for sure is that this is one of the city’s most famous cocktails. It is still a popular choice during trips to French Quarter although it is said that during the carnival of 1915, 32 staff were on at once at Imperial Cabinet Saloon, just to shake drinks in order to keep up with the high demand. It had a long mixing time (12 minutes) which made it a very time consuming cocktail to produce.  A Fizz is a genre of drink, named because recipes had bartenders ‘charge’ the drinks with soda from a soda siphon, although nowadays using a bottle of club soda to top it off is sufficient.

The above recipe is a bit of a mix.  I took the main ingredients from the recipe written in ‘Modern American Drinks- How to mix and serve all kinds of cups and drinks’ by George J. Kappeler, copyright 1895, however egg white and orange blossom water were added in much later recipes.

Actual recipe from ‘Modern American Drinks’ 1895

I personally love the fluffiness of drinks with egg white so I feel I have to put a recipe that includes those ingredients.  The drink itself is creamy, sour and sweet. With the addition of orange blossom water it tastes almost like an orange cream soda. Very tasty.

I will definitely be ordering one when in NOLA, and i’ll let everyone know how it tastes! Be sure to follow my twitter @TheFussyOne1 and Instagram @TheFussyOne for live feeds throughout the trip.

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Areal Restaurant

Areal

2820 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA. 90405
310-392-1661

.

My boyfriend FutureGreg (FG) and I found ourselves at Areal in Santa Monica recently enjoying another of our Monday date nights.

We sat at the bar, as per usual, and were fortunate enough to have our drinks made by their head barman Rich Andreoli.

A very Happy Hour

We arrived at the tail end of happy hour but managed to order a couple of bar bites and a daiquiri off the smaller happy hour menu before it ended.

We started with the Vegetable risotto, it was creamy but not too rich and had a slight chicken stock flavor to it.  The peas and asparagus were perfectly cooked, not too crunchy and not too soft.

Risotto: Spring peas, asparagus, lemon parmesan $9

Next we had the beef tartar which had a nice light spiciness.  The meat itself was soft, moist and had capers and onions mixed in. It came with hot toasted bread on the side which made a nice contrast with the cold beef.  Both dishes were great options for the price.

Beef Tartar: Fresh herbs, capers, shallots, arugula $8

The Daiquiri was a nice simple classic, it was slightly sour for my tastes but FG enjoyed it and it was a bargain at $6.

Original Daiquiri: White rum, fresh lime juice, sugar $6

More Food…

After the happy hour tasters we ordered off the main menu.  We couldn’t decide between the steak or the shrimp pizza…so naturally, we got both!

The 14oz Rib Eye with vegetables was a great choice, the dish reminded me of Sunday Roast dinners my mum would make back in England.  All the vegetables were delicious, crunchy and full of flavor.

Yes, you heard correctly, the Fussy One (who used to shy away from anything green on her plate) ate a whole plate of veggies… and enjoyed every one of them!  There was Artichoke, Purple Cauliflower, Asparagus, Roast potatoes, Parsnips and Carrots…plus some caramelized garlic and shallot pieces that gave a delicious sweetness to the plate.  It was very very good indeed.

Ribeye: Roasted seasonal vegetables, sautéed garlic spinach, herb butter $38

I had high hopes for the pizza we ordered, however sadly the menu didn’t mention it had chilies on so it was a little too spicy for me.  The pizza base was delicious though, soft and crispy dough with powdered flour on the edges.  I do enjoy a good pizza crust.

Wood Fired Shrimp Pizza: Goat cheese, Roasted garlic puree, Cilantro marinated shrimp $14

Drinks please!

Rich is a great bartender and gave wonderful suggestions for pairings with the food.  He convinced me to try a large variety of drink options,  so we sat at the bar and enjoyed many an alcoholic beverage.  He chose me a great glass of wine to enjoy with the steak which was a nice change from the cocktails too.  I’m not usually a red wine drinker but he gave me a glass of the medium bodied Mondave Cabernet which worked beautifully with the meat, it was fruity with just a hint of oak.

The first mixed drink I ordered was the ‘Secretariat’. It was a nutty, very rich and sweet drink.  It was a little too intense for me at the start of the meal but had a great combination of flavors. The pistachio honey really came through nicely, and worked well with the walnut liquor and bourbon. I didn’t really pick up on the lavender bitters because there were so many other overpowering flavors present. Certainly an interesting option, although i’d personally suggest it as an after dinner drink as opposed to with a meal.

Secretariat- Bourbon, Pistachio honey, Walnut liquor, Sweet vermouth, Lavender bitters $12

FG tried the ‘Single Village Fix’.   He certainly enjoyed it, mainly due to the Mezcal, which has become one of his fast favorites recently. The drink itself had a fair amount of sweetness to it from the pineapple gomme (which is basically a syrup) but the smoky mezcal flavors were the most overpowering part of the drink and not really my style.

Single Village Fix- Mezcal, Fresh lime, Pineapple gomme $12

I so wanted to like the Cameron’s Kick, because all the ingredients are things I enjoy.  The orgeat was very light, so the drink itself was pretty strong and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  FG enjoyed it a lot and described it as balanced but strong. I’m just fussy it would seem…haha who knew?! 🙂

Cameron’s Kick- Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Fresh lemon, Orgeat $12

The ‘Infante’ was the only drink that I honestly had no interest in trying because I’m not exactly a tequila fan but FG and Rich convinced me to give it a go at least.  Of course, it turned out to be my favorite drink of the night.  The tequila wasn’t overpowering at all and the rose water mist and nutmeg on top gave a great nose.  It was balanced, refreshing and delicious! I highly recommend this drink.

Infante- Blanco Tequila, Fresh lime, Orgeat, Rose water, Nutmeg $12

Sweet tooth

Dessert was just utter decadence. We were so full from food and cocktails that we boxed up half the pizza, but somehow Rich convinced us to try the  ice cream sundae! This is definitely not correctly advertised, ice cream sundae sounds kind of boring when you see it on the menu…but if you knew how good it was you would get this in a heartbeat.  It’s a home made toasted marshmallow ring for the base, butter pecan, chocolate and vanilla ice cream in the center then topped with cream, nuts and bourbon caramel sauce. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

This was beyond delicious, the marshmallow wasn’t overtly sweet and had a soft almost whipped texture to it.  The ice cream was creamy, (butter pecan happens to be my favorite flavor) the bourbon caramel sauce wasn’t overpowering it just blended nicely with all the other ingredients and the toasted hazelnuts gave a nice texture.  What a dish!

Ice Cream Sundae for two: Bourbon caramel, chocolate sauce, toasted hazelnuts $12

Just when we were about to explode, the pastry chef brought us a Pavlova to try! She told us that she makes sure the house made meringues remain chewy, so we had to have a taste.  Sadly the meringues on this occasion came out a little on the crunchy/dusty side…however the intension was there and i’m sure if we ordered it another time it would be as its intended. The whipped goat cheese was a great accompaniment to the berries on top.

Pavlova: Chewy meringue, Whipped goats cheese, Seasonal berries $9

Time for some Ratings

The food was a solid 3.5 before the dessert came out, but the ice cream sundae bumped it right up to out of 5.

If you can only order one item, get the sundae!!!  The rest of the food was all very good as well, the risotto and Steak were my favorites and if it wasn’t for the chilies the pizza would have been excellent also.

I’m giving the drinks at Areal 4 out of 5 also.

All the cocktails were executed well, Rich was chatty and friendly and is a man who clearly knows his craft.  I liked that he suggested things to try and asked me what spirits I prefer so he could make a drink accordingly, it made the whole experience more personal.  I found some of the drinks sometimes aired a little on the sour side for my tastes, but seeing as I usually go for diabetic sweet they are probably fine for most people!

I highly recommend this restaurant and i’m sure we’ll be back soon. The courtyard has fairy lights everywhere and looks beautiful.  The whole restaurant has a romantic and attractive atmosphere, the bar is well stocked with lots of interesting bottles and liqueurs (some we’d never seen before) and the background music they play is great. Soft rock and chill songs by bands such as Oasis, Red Hot Chili peppers, Snow Patrol and Cold Play (all my favorites!).

All in all a great night out. Shame about the $68 parking ticket that awaited us, we were having such a good time we forgot to feed the meter!

Oops… still well worth the night out though 🙂

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Drink of the Week

Miyabi (From Eclipse Bar)

1oz Spiced Sailor Jerry rum
1oz Xanté pear cognac (Pear Brandy works even better)
3/4oz Syrup d’Antilles
3/4oz Fresh apple and pear juice
    
Served tall over ice.
 
            

“Nothing brings the neighbours together like a Solar eclipse does!”

That’s what myself and many others discovered yesterday when standing out on our driveways looking up at our big bright star.  My boyfriends father had so cleverly decided to purchase some welders glass for the event, making the view pretty spectacular without damaging our retinas!  Sadly in Southern California we didn’t get to see the ‘Ring of Fire’ due to our positioning on the planet, but it was still a great sight to witness and one that won’t happen again in Los Angeles for another 59 years!

I felt inspired to look for a drink that would match this rare occasion.  I found a couple of recipes that had Astronomical names, but decided to go with the above recipe as it was created at a bar, named appropriately, ‘Eclipse’ in London.  This bar on Old Brompton Road (which I visited when I lived in the area) offers a range of cocktails from classics, like the Aviation and the Vesper, to a selection of modern options including the Miyabi (above) and the ‘Eclipse’ made with Vodka, Watermelon and Kaffir-lime.

I couldn’t get the exact measurements that they use at the bar itself, so my mixologist boyfriend FutureGreg played with ratios and the above recipe is the version that we feel works best. Ideally use a good Pear brandy in replacement of the Xante (a product neither of us particularly likes).

This is a sweet, refreshing and strong tasting drink that is great on a hot day… also an ideal beverage to sip on when watching the sun get covered by our moon 🙂

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Interview with a Bartender: Arash Pakzad

I have mentioned Neat bar a few times in previous posts, for two distinct reasons. One, the owner Aidan Demarest is one of the most interesting, funny and charismatic people you will ever meet. Two, the drinks are always great and the bartenders really know what they’re doing there.

I have plenty to say about this place and it’s innovative concept, so be sure to check back in the next few weeks when I will be putting up a review of the bar itself. For now, here is a little interview with one of their top barmen Arash Pakzad.  (Please note the photo used below is copyright to Raul Villarreal of rAwkfoto.)

Arash Pakzad

Official Job Title: Head Bartender
Born: San Francisco, California
Currently Resides: Los Angeles, California
Current Work locations:
Neat Bar, Glendale CA (Basically all the time)
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*****

 Q & A


What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice?
High Proof Rye Whiskey and Islay Scotch, also a good Reposado Tequila
 
What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
Sazerac
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
Not too fussy, I’ll try anything as long as I kill it or it’s been killed for me.
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
Cow Tongue Stew, Brain tacos, Rocky Mountain Oysters – all great.
 
What is the best thing about what you do?
Everything. Pleasing people around me and pleasing myself.

What is the Worst thing about what you do?
I get people nice and tipsy, then I have to stop serving at 2am!
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA?
Mixology bar? You mean a bar that the bartenders know how to make excellent drinks? Tough choice.  I feel like there are only a select number of people in the World that are true mixologists and the term mixology is overused and under-appreciated.  There are some great places in LA though.
 
Who would you say is your mentor? Who trained you in your area of expertise?
Aidan Demarest, Jon Ojinaga, Laurel Sather, Fred Pakzad, John-Eric Sanchez, Ashley Afferino, Edgar Monsivais, All my fellow bartenders that I have had the opportunity to work beside.
 
Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night?
Neat bar in Glendale!
 
If you could live anywhere in the World where would it be? & Why?
San Francisco, CA. Do you have a couple pages of space for me to use to explain why? I have my friends, it’s my birthplace, all that food and the awesome homeless people to give my leftovers to.
 
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this new segment send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!  Please note, I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who bartend for extra cash but have no actual interest in the cocktail community need not apply!

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Plan to Check out ‘Plan Check’

Plan Check
1800 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
310 288 6500

Another date night with the boyfriend (FG) has been and gone.  This week we decided to check out a place brand new to the foodie scene here in Los Angeles, called Plan Check which opened to the public on February 22nd 2012.

I didn’t get to the opening, but here late on Monday night I was impressed with how busy it was for somewhere so new.  Good news clearly travels fast. Ernesto Uchimura (originally Executive Chef of Umami Burger) is behind the menu, and Pablo Moix (whose recent successes include La Descarga and Harvard & Stone) put together an interesting drinks list.  Two greats coming together was bound to be good.

Plan Check is named because of its location beside the ‘Building and Safety Department’, (where Architects and Designers get their plans reviewed for permitting).  This is subtly incorporated in their design on the menu too, with a simple pair of compasses.  The place has a really relaxed feel to it and an open kitchen in full view as you walk in. Community style tables in the centre and booth seating around the sides make for a great place to go with a group of friends.

The room itself had fairly bright lighting, which I don’t normally like, but worked well in this setting.  Our bartender Rachel greeted us quickly, and got us started with some drinks. I had a ‘Little Osaka Sour’ and FG had the ‘Ronin.’  I was really impressed seeing Rachel stir the Ronin at the same time as shaking my Sour, she made it look effortless but I know it’s not as easy as she made it appear.

The Little Osaka Sour was good, but really tasted to me like a Whiskey Sour (which is essentially what it is, with the addition of plum wine).  The plum wine flavors were barely noticeable to me but the drink itself was tasty.

Little Osaka Sour- Woodford Bourbon, Plum Wine, Lemon, Egg White, Sugar

FG really liked his drink, it was a straight forward Rye Cocktail sweetened with Benedictine. It could be a little too sweet for some, but the Benedictine added a layer of complexity which I liked.  FG said it reminded him of a ‘Monte Carlo Cocktail’ but softer and easier to drink.

Ronin- Sazerac Rye, Remy VS, Benedictine, Bitters

We decided to order a selection of dishes and have them all come at one time so we could share everything.  All the food was served in little black skillet style dishes which I thought were really fun and different.  I knew I had to get one of the burgers (if only to see how it compared to Umami), we also ordered Short ribs, A butter lettuce salad and a stuffed portobello mushroom dish.

The burger looked and tasted fantastic.  Double bacon, double cheese and a fried egg was bound to be a winning combination, and I could immediately see why it was named ‘Chefs Favorite’.  My burger included ‘Ketchup leather’ which is a dehydrated tomato based sauce they make in house.  Doesn’t sound too appealing I know, but it was actually very delicious as well as a smart invention because it doesn’t ooze out the sides of the burger or make the bread soggy like regular ketchup.  I made one modification to the dish by choosing not to add hot sauce, purely because i’m not a fan of spicy.  The egg had a perfectly runny yolk, the bacon was crispy, the meat was juicy and there was a salty sweetness from the Ketchup leather.   It hit all the right notes and I highly recommend it.  I enjoyed the burger so much that I had a hard time giving my boyfriend his share!

Chefs Favorite Burger- Cheese two ways, bacon two ways, ketchup leather, fried egg, hot sauce

I tried a few bites of the Short rib pot roast, which was well cooked and flavorful but as you know (read About me for a reminder) I really dislike the texture of braised meat and therefore wasn’t a huge fan of the dish.  The bone marrow pot pie that accompanied the rib was delicious though.  The pastry was buttery and the inside was bursting with meaty flavor.  FG was proud of me for even trying something with ‘marrow’ in the title, but I actually found it very tasty and it reminded me of a ‘Cornish Pasty’ you’d find in England (minus the potato.)

Short Rib Pot Roast- Red wine, bone marrow turnover pie, sweet n sour mirepoix

The salad was the only item we ordered that we didn’t finish, I didn’t like it at all and found the dressing too spicy for my tastes.  FG just found it physically difficult to eat in the skillet pan with pieces of egg and almonds flakes falling to the bottom of the dish. I really wanted to like it, but sadly it didn’t impress.

Butter Lettuce Salad- Egg, crispy cheddar, smoked almonds, apple, creamy mustard dressing

The Stuffed mushroom surprised me the most because I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much.  I don’t generally eat mushrooms, I like the flavor but not the texture (i’m fussy remember!) but the Portobello was almost meaty in consistency and the cheese melted over the top made for a deliciously rich fondue sauce. The crunchy dried kale was a fine addition to the dish, and tasted very similar to seaweed.

Stuffed Mushroom- Roasted portobello, swiss cheese fondue, crispy kate, steak sauce

We wanted one more drink but couldn’t decide which one to get. The drinks list had some really interesting options, like the ‘Spaghetti Western’ (Vida Mescal, Tapito, Red bell pepper, Lime, Agave and beer) but as we were having dessert we decided to go for the ‘Chiapas.’

Chiapas- Chai infused herradura tequila, almond milk, all-spice dram, bitters

I was impressed so see a drink using Almond milk, which is a great option for people who are lactose intolerant.  It tasted like Horchata, (a drink from Latin America that has Vanilla, Cinnamon, Almond flavors) and the all spice dram gave it a cloves ‘Christmas-like’ finish.

It went perfectly with the donuts we ordered.  The donuts were made to order and looked like circular Churros,  they had a crispy coating, soft insides and a salty sweetness to them with just a touch of cinnamon sugar that complimented all the flavors.  They were served on a layer of Crème fraîche with banana slices.  Delicious.

Other dessert options included an intriguing choice of ‘home made ice cream bars’, that i’m told will change periodically.  The flavors available on our visit included;

  • Milk & Cereal,
  • Pumpkin,
  • Double chocolate,
  • Cookies and Cream
  • Dulce de leche

I wanted to try one so bad, but our stomachs just wouldn’t allow for even one more bite!  I will definitely make sure to try them on the next visit though.

I am giving the drinks 3.5 out of 5 Coupes.

The drinks list was interesting and the ones Rachel made were all executed correctly, balanced and flavorful.  I found them to be very good but not excellent.  Nothing blew me away, so to speak, which is surprising as I usually go crazy over Pablo Moix creations. I will happily return to try others on the list though.

I am giving the food 4 out of 5 Platters.

The prices were more than reasonable and all the dishes we tried (besides the salad) were great, however the burger was nothing short of excellent.  I liked that they make their own sauces in house and the ketchup leather is an unusual but tasty invention.  Service was fast, friendly and the options to choose from were all interesting.

Overall we had a nice evening and I will happily return in the coming months.  I encourage anyone who lives near to “check out” Plan Check for yourself, and if you’re a meat eater, definitely give one of their burgers a try.

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A not so bitter talk with Louis Anderman

Name: Louis Anderman

Company: Miracle Mile Bitters Co.

Location: Los Angeles, California

“Making the World a better place, 2-3 dashes at a time”


This week-end I finally got to sit down with the lovely Louis Anderman, the man behind the Miracle Mile Bitters Co.  When I say ‘the man behind the brand’ I am being quite literal when I talk about Louis.  Miracle Mile Bitters aren’t mass produced at all,  they are hand-crafted cocktail bitters made here in Los Angeles (Miracle Mile) by Louis ALONE in his rented studio space.

He is a one man show and therefore produces small batches for local businesses, friends, family and fellow enthusiasts.  As his success has risen in the last year he has had to turn down a few distributing companies already, purely because he is realistic about what he can produce as one person.  He cannot create 400 bottles a week, like the larger competitors (Fee Brothers, Scrappy’s etc). He can however, and does, take a little under a month to create a couple of liters of truly exceptional product. He single handedly proves the point of quality over quantity.

These bitters taste real, they don’t taste like false flavorings. Unlike ‘Fee Brothers’ he never uses glycerine in his product, only organic neutral grain spirit (except in the case of his Toasted Pecan Bitters, where he uses 50/50 the neutral grain and Bourbon).  Demand is greater than production allows right now, and he told me that merely mentioning a flavor concept on his Facebook/website has him receiving countless requests for bottles of a product not yet created!

He is a genuinely nice man to chat with and when speaking about what he’s doing now, (a far cry from the world of Miramax he originated in) you really get a sense of his passion for the products he creates.  He has no formal culinary training, but his keen sense of smell, taste and adventure for playing with new flavors is what sent him on his current path.

He started with the Chocolate/Chili bitters early on which ended up being so successful amongst his friends that Joe Keeper (owner of Barkeeper in Silverlake) said “You really should start selling these at my store”. Soon enough his product was doing so well that he said to himself it’s time to “Go Pro or Go HomeLucky for us, he chose the professional route and Miracle Mile Bitters Co. began it’s journey in to the cocktail community.

A Brief bit about Bitters. (Say that ten times fast!)

Ok, so the bitter truth (pun intended) is that until a few days ago I didn’t even know what they really were. When someone mentioned ‘Bitters’ in a drink, I would usually assume, having such a sweet tooth, i’m not going to like it and therefore not going to order it.  I would have been able to name maybe four flavors I knew of:  Peychauds, Angostura, Chocolate and Orange and although I was aware there were more flavors out there, I had no real desire to discover them. To be honest I had no understanding as to why anyone would even want them in a drink!  The only time i’d tasted them in the past had been when I had an upset tummy and my boyfriend FG would give me bitters in soda which was, quite frankly, disgusting! This always stuck with me and when FG would order a digestiv  of ‘beverage bitters’ like Campari or Cynar, I could never understand it’s appeal. It was like taking medicine.

Technically, that’s exactly what he was doing. Bitters originated as medicines and were used to cure a variety of ailments from headaches to constipation to indigestion.  The recipes for some of theses elixirs date back centuries and were used to help fix a variety of sickness issues.  I could not wrap my head around why bartenders had such a desire to add them to drinks, that is until I tried some of Miracle Miles Bitters co. selection at the Valentines Day Prom at Big Bar and realized how certain bitters can be a background note that enhance a set of new flavors in a drink.

As soon as I tried them and heard about this ‘Cult member of the cocktail community’ (Louis Anderman) I knew I wanted to meet him, but before I did I decided to do a little research.Amongst other books, I found myself reading ‘A SPIRITED HISTORY of a CLASSIC CURE-ALL- BITTERS’ by Brad Thomas Parsons the most.  It is not a hugely complex book, but was perfect to help me understand their origins and uses. So for all of you, like myself, with little/no knowledge of Bitters here’s a few little things to tell you…in layman’s terms!

What exactly are bitters?

Bitters have been described as “Liquid seasoning for drinks and food”, they are to the bartender what salt and pepper is to the Chef.  FG often has a Negroni or bitter tasting aperitif to help prepare his taste buds for dinner, they cleanse the palette and help enhance flavors in the food you eat, and in the cocktail itself.

“Bitters are an aromatic flavoring agent made from infusing roots, barks, fruit peels, seeds, spices, herbs, flowers and botanicals in high proof alcohol.” Page 9 of Parsons Book.

They are used in the creation of cocktails. Incidentally I should mention that the term “cocktail” should technically always have bitters in it.

Our generation throws the word around with little regard for accuracy. There are thousands of “Cocktail Lists” in this city with not one ‘real’ cocktail on it.   A cocktail (by tradition) is a drink consisting of sugar, alcohol, water and bitters. Thats it! None of these ‘Martinis or Cosmos’ are cocktails at all. We use the term incorrectly and it drives the true drink enthusiasts crazy.

I admit I have no issue with the mis use of the term personally, I actually believe it’s ok for the meaning of words to change and adapt over time, but if you are one of those people who believe in accuracy of names and traditions then check out Andrew “The Alchemist” Willet website by clicking HERE. He is a walking ‘drink encyclopedia’ and runs classes and tasting sessions which will blow your mind. (He also just did an article on the ‘Bitters’ book I mentioned, he wasn’t as in favor of it as I am, but have a look at what he said too.)

Bitters are also, as I mentioned before, a form of Medicine.  Louis told me that some of his first recipes and attempts at bitters came from old 19th Century pharmaceutical books he found on the internet “God bless Google Books” he said, when discussing how access to some of these old recipes really helped him create his own, like his very popular Castilian Bitters.

The Forbidden Bitters (Batch # 001) were some of the best he’s ever created, and not that dissimilar from the, now deceased, Abbott’s 19th Century aromatic bitters.  However, in the same way that the Abbott’s are no longer available you also can’t get your hands on this first batch of Forbidden either.  For the same reason too, they are both now ‘Forbidden’ as the recipe called for Tonka Beans (have bitter almond, cacao and vanilla notes) which are not FDA approved.  This is nothing more than a poorly written law and the minuscule amounts used could never cause you harm, but nevertheless, Louis’ current Forbidden Bitters for sale do not include the aromatic Tonka beans at all. They are still excellent however, and I strongly urge you to buy a bottle.

Always one to try new things, he tells me recently he’s been experimenting with Candicap mushrooms, which have a sweet maple syrup aroma.  I asked why no one has thought to use these in bitters before and he replied “They are expensive and the supply chain is irregular” but that’s the beauty of a small operation company, he can play with flavors with a lot less regard for mass production later on down the line.

The majority of his experimentation isn’t for retail either, but limited to ‘on premise’ clients. An example of this would be the savory “Damn you Matt Wallace” bitters he created for Harvard & Stone in Hollywood.  The name intrigues many who hear it, and I was curious as to it’s back story.

Louis told me;

Matt Wallace (Head Bartender at H&S) suggested I try to create a savory bitters. After I started with a tomato base,  I added (amongst other things) some angelic root, pepper, celery and a little citrus for brightness then my savory bitters were born.  They have spice with not too much heat. The idea and the final product ended up being so good I had to say “Damn you Matt Wallace” so that’s what I put on the label of the first bottle.”

The name stuck! ‘Damn you Matt Wallace bitters’ are still on the drink menu at Harvard and Stone exclusively so be sure to check them out there too.

The new ‘Valentines Bitters’ with notes of Strawberry and Rose that were created for Big Bar’s Prom last week, are outstanding. So delicate and floral, they are delightful and having been able to snag a little bottle for my own use I have already been bothered by ‘bartender friends’ who want me to bug Louis about creating more. “Can you see if he’ll make us like 6 bottles?” Seriously, I can only imagine how many calls Louis must get like this after people try his new creations.

The man is gifted and I cannot wait to see what he comes up with next. Miracle Mile Bitters Co. is such a great little company and deserves all the recognition it can get. In my opinion it’s always better to look after the “little guy” and stay away from “big commercial” companies when possible and unlike other bitters production companies in America, Miracle Mile Bitters Co. does have that small batch appeal.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some other fantastic bitters companies out there ‘The Bitter Truth’ is a great example of one.  There are also small batch bitters operations popping up all over the place like ‘Bittermens’ bitters created by Avery Glasser in New York.

Louis isn’t here to step on anyones toes though, when I asked if he started his company because he thought other companies were lacking an element he replied;

 “Not at all. I honestly felt there was room for me too. There is always room for new flavor ideas, for example, no one was making a Castilian or Yuzu bitters at the time”

and for the flavors already out there, like Orange or Chocolate, he says he’s not trying to take over;

“As long as the quality is there, I believe theres room for everyone. I target a smaller audience anyway and often have people who just want to collect the whole set because I make so few bottle in a batch compared to the big brands”

His work ethic and passion for what he does comes across when he talks and his choice of flavors has inspired bartenders across LA and the country to create new and exciting drinks with his products.  He sparks imagination in people and his ‘Venue specific bitters’ are a smart way to help Mixology bars around LA get on the map, if they weren’t already.  The cocktail community in LA is so welcoming and helpful for promoting each other, he has been quite overwhelmed by how much support has come for his little brand.  Having tasted his products and met Louis now in person, I honestly believe his product won’t stay “boutique” for long.  I’m pretty sure Miracle Mile Bitters Co. is about to become a big name brand and will one day be available and sold all over the World.  It deserves every success.

If you have an interest in buying any of his current ‘retail’ creations please check out his website, or purchase direct from any of the following locations:

The current bitters he creates in a larger capacity for retail are: Chocolate/Chili Bitters, Gingerbread Bitters, Sour Cherry Bitters, Castilian Bitters, Yuzu Bitters, Forbidden Bitters, Orange Bitters.

I am going to end with a copy of the questionnaire I give all the people I interview. I find this is a fun informal way to learn more about a person and I love to see the different answers .
Here are Louis answers…Enjoy!
*
1. What is your full name?
Louis Z Anderman
2. What city/state were you born in?
Los Angeles, CA
3. What is your official job title? 
Barpothecary.  OK, so I made up that word, but it appears that someone beat me to Bitterati.
4. Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
Absolutely not.  And, I should add, I see no food hierarchy.  I think that a $1 taco truck taco can be as noble as anything served at any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, and many of my most memorable meals have been in parking lots, or strip mall dives with a health dept. B in the window.
 5. What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
Can’t pick one.  Best I can do is my top 5, in no particular order:  Martini, Manhattan, Sazerac, Last Word, Old Fashioned.
6. What is your ‘go-to’ liquor of choice? 
Gin.  Beefeater is usually my house staple, though there are many others I love, depending upon mood and/or finances.
7. What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but perhaps shark fin soup with crab roe, in Hong Kong.
8. What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA? and Why?
Can’t do it.  Can’t pick a favorite.
9. Where can you usually be found on a Saturday night?
For the most part, I’m a boring homebody.
10. What is the best thing about what you do?  
Many things.  For one, truly loving what I do.  For the first time in my life, I actually find myself excited about going to work.  The creative satisfaction I get from developing new flavors, and the further satisfaction at a positive reception, and then seeing bartenders creating new drinks with them that I never would have imagined.  All of the lovely, incredibly creative and passionate people I’ve met.  Oh, and the comped drinks don’t hurt, either.
11. What is the Worst thing about what you do?
Dealing with supply shortages (I went through about a two month dry spell on Yuzu peel, until I found a new, more reliable supplier), and the stress of building a new business from the ground up, learning as I go along (and hoping I don’t screw anything up too much!).
12. If you could live anywhere in the World where would it be? and why?
I’m gonna cheat and imagine that I had access to a time machine, and say LA in the 1930’s.  I’m obsessed with looking at pictures of old LA, and I can’t imagine how beautiful this city must have been pre-traffic, with lots of gorgeous Art Deco architecture.
13. If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
Cry. 
14. If you won the $100,000,000 on the lottery what would be the first thing you’d buy?
A fully restored (and with the notoriously dodgy electrics upgraded) series 1.5 Jaguar XKE roadster – silver, with red or black interior – or the Plymouth Gin distillery, just so I’d have ready access to the Navy Strength which, sadly, isn’t imported to the US.
 
Thanks for reading!
(If you would like to be considered for interview or represent a bar/brand you want to bring exposure to on my site, please feel free to contact me direct: pickydrinker@gmail.com)

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