These days, small batch spirits and fresh, seasonal ingredients are de rigueur for any bar program that wants to be taken seriously. After languishing while other parts of the city stepped up their cocktail game, the Westside awakened from the doldrums when places like Tasting Kitchen and Michael’s joined Copa d’Oro in offering excellent craft cocktails west of the 405.
Located up the street from Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, Joe’s Restaurant has established a dedicated following over the years by staying true to Executive Chef Joe Miller’s farmers market driven California-French cuisine, showcased in a comfortable neighborhood setting. Miller’s focus on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients has been formally incorporated into the restaurant’s Market Driven Cocktail Menu, now available in the bar and dining room.
Miller is no stranger to the LA cocktail scene, having co-founded and participated in the Raising the Bar series of bartender competitions. With Jennifer Zerboni, Joe’s Beverage Director of the last two years, he has a like-minded person running the bar. “The farmer’s market is a big inspiration to me,” said Zerboni. “I change the menu with the market, so when something goes out of season, I explore what’s coming in and how I can use it with new products from the spirit world.”
Zerboni finds that “the Venice crowd likes things simple, fun and healthy, so my cocktails are always balanced and as fresh as possible.” With that in mind, her menu features drinks like the Fleur de Lis (Luksusowa Vodka, lemon, grapefruit, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, muddled basil) and the aptly named Drunk Chicken (pictured at top), made with London Dry Gin, fresh lemon, rhubarb simple syrup, egg white and rhubarb bitters.
Besides the offerings on the regular cocktail menu, Zerboni has been featuring summer drinks like the Cherry Cherry Bang Bang: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Roi Rene Rouge Cherry Liqueur, muddled Bing cherries, Carpano Antica and citrus.
Miller’s fine dining philosophy extends beyond the top shelf spirits that Zerboni stocks for the back bar. She features Corralejo as the well tequila and (be still my heart) Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond Rye as the well whiskey, which speaks volumes about Zerboni’s thoughtful approach to her guests. As bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts are well aware, supplies of Rittenhouse 100 have historically had a hard time keeping up with demand. Here’s hoping Zerboni has hoarded some bottles for Joe’s upcoming 20-year anniversary celebration in September!
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Images courtesy Joe’s Restaurant.