Last Friday, Julian Cox debuted his eagerly awaited Summer Cocktail Menu at Rivera. To mark the occasion, cocktails that night were just $5, a great way to sample Julian’s latest creations for a fraction of the normal cost. When I arrived, the bar area was packed with a thirsty crowd, and Julian and his crew were kept busy mixing drinks for appreciative guests.
I started with the Love Stoned, made with rye, Bing cherries, lemon, orgeat syrup, and plumberry tincture. This delicious cocktail is so good it’s dangerous: the fruit forward profile is anchored by the orgeat syrup’s pronounced almond flavor and the plumberry’s floral notes. Julian’s choice to present the cocktail with a basil garnish enhances the flavor mix as well as pleases the eye. The Love Stoned is tasty enough to rival his signature Rivera creation, the Blood Sugar Sex Magic, which I previously thought was untouchable as far as the Rivera menu was concerned.
For Round Two I ordered the Qweens Park Swizzle, made with rum, mint, Angostura and Peychaud’s Bitters. The flavors are pretty straightforward, but its colorful, layered presentation as an über snowcone takes it to another level. This drink is tailor made to be enjoyed outside on Rivera’s Flower Street patio.
I finished the night with a Bensenhurst: rye, Carpano Antica, Cynar, and Maraschino, served up. While I really enjoyed this cocktail, its strong, smoky profile was probably better suited as a starter, rather than as my last drink of the night. That said, its complex mix of flavors work well together, the bitterness of the Cynar offset by the rich, chocolate flavor of the Antica and the cherry/almond notes of the Maraschino.
As always, Julian has hit it out of the park with his summer menu. I can’t wait to dive into other libations like the Peruvian Daisy and the 19th Century. Due to the seasonality of their ingredients, most of the summer cocktails won’t be available in a few months; do yourself a favor and get down to Rivera before you miss some of the best drinks in town.
1050 S. Flower St, #102
Los Angeles, CA 90015