An occasional roundup of L.A. cocktail culture in various media.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these compilations, but it’s not for a lack of exciting things happening in the L.A. cocktail scene. Quite the contrary, in fact; with a slew of bar openings and more on the way, there’s never been a better time to be a cocktail enthusiast in the City of Angels. In recent weeks the amount of coverage has ramped up, which makes it as good a time as any to collect some highlights from the last few months. Here’s hoping it won’t take me a year to post another digest. Cheers!
Last month’s superb Brand X Mixology Issue (Feb. 16, 2011) takes its place alongside Jonathan Gold’s The New Cocktailians (LA Weekly, 2009) and Imbibe Magazine’s A Star is Re-Born (Jul./Aug. 2010) as essential guides to the state of the L.A. cocktail scene.
Among the great reads: a profile of Zahra Bates (Providence); an in-depth look at Harvard & Stone; Q&A’s with Julian Cox (Playa) and Matt Biancaniello (Library Bar); a mixology glossary by Justin Pike (The Tasting Kitchen); and a spirits buying guide.
In a previous Brand X issue, Joshua Lurie detailed an interesting connection between Aidan Demarest, John Coltharp, Joel Black and Brian Summers in La Frite, a Family Tree Nourished by Alcohol (Dec. 6, 2010).
In Women Find a Place in the Craft Cocktail Movement (Feb. 17, 2011), the LA Times spotlights some of L.A.’s top female bartenders, including Tricia Alley (B Side at Rolling Stone), Zahra Bates, and Jennifer Contraveos and Naomi Schimek of The Spare Room.
LA Times Magazine continues to pair cocktail recipes and gorgeous photos, such as Apricot Dreams (Dec. 2010), featuring a couple of recipes by Varnish co-owner Eric Alperin. Recent entries in the magazine’s Cocktail Confidential blog covered the opening of Bar Toscana (Dec. 14, 2010) and the long-awaited launch of liquor sales at Silver Lake’s Bar Keeper (Sep. 24, 2010).
Camper English (Alcademics) has been writing a great series of articles for the magazine, including:
- Sherry Reconsidered (Feb. 2011), with recipes by Zahra Bates, Alex Day (Proprietors LLC), and others.
- The Martini Does Not Exist (Jan. 2011)
- Cognac Cocktails (Nov. 2010), with recipes by Damian Windsor (Roger Room).
The Gray Lady has been showing some love for the Los Angeles cocktail scene:
- After a visit to Test Kitchen, Frank Bruni returned to New York and embarked on a quest for an elusive cocktail in Smitten with a Cocktail Called Frisco (Oct. 28, 2010).
- Matt Biancaniello is featured in the T Magazine article Savory Cocktails (Dec. 8, 2010), which includes a photo by Dylan Ho (The Cocktail Revival).
- In a Sunday Travel article (Feb. 20, 2011), a guide on how to spend 36 Hours in Downtown Los Angeles includes The Varnish, The Edison and Seven Grand.
In his acclaimed new book Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour, author Dan Dunn (The Imbiber) begins each chapter with one of 16 original cocktail recipes, created by top bartenders such as local stars Vincenzo Marianella (Copa d’Oro) and Steve Livigni (Harvard & Stone), as well as King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff.
This winter, Seattle’s Jim Romdall and Rocky Yeh (NW Vivant) challenged amateur mixologists, writers and bloggers to work a shift at some of the West Coast’s top bars for Jim & Rocky’s Barback Pro-Am. On Feb. 23rd and 24th, the tour hit downtown L.A., with Chuck Taggart (Looka!) working his shift at Bar | Kitchen and Marleigh Miller (SLOSHED!) the featured barback at Caña Rum Bar. All of the carnage was documented for the upcoming Jim & Rocky’s Barback Pro-Am series, so look for two of L.A.’s best bars to make an appearance on the Small Screen Network.
More love for The Varnish in the March 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, in an article called Hollywood Eats: 10 Ways to Do L.A. Like a Star. Number Five is Polish Off a Perfect Cocktail at The Varnish, and includes a recipe for a Bols Genever cocktail, the Holland Red Light.
And to bring it all full circle, last week’s LA Weekly cover story featured Jonathan Gold’s list of L.A.’s Best Cocktails (Mar. 3, 2011). The collection of 55 drinks includes classics, signature favorites like the Donaji and Tapping the Admiral, intriguing unknowns like the Faulkner’s Breakfast at Musso & Frank, and left field choices like the Picon Punch in Bakersfield, of all places.
One more for the road: In anticipation of its upcoming Cocktails 2011 book, the April issue of Food & Wine magazine lists America’s Best New Bars, including The Tasting Kitchen and 1886 at The Raymond.