For the third blogger mashup food marathon the focus shifted to cocktails and the blogger at the helm was Caroline from CarolineonCrack.com. The CoC booze marathon would focus on LA’s best mixologists, which is appropriate given the recent LA Weekly article where Jonathan Gold hails the return of a brilliant LA cocktail scene.
I should note that after a steady decade of drinking I, like the economy, have tapered off significantly in recent months. Instead of waiting for a government stimulus I simply turned to Caroline to reinfuse my past passion. Also I should note that recently my alcohol palate has landed solidly in the ‘scotch on the rocks’ arena, leaving most other cocktails in the past.
Also, the geographical landscape of LA often requires extensive driving on a food marathon. When drinks are involved this becomes a serious issue. Facing this challenge we decided to cut out the downtown bars for locational convenience and also because a downtown booze marathon deserves its own post. This left a westside crawl that included Comme Ça, STK and Copa de Oro. It was the mixologists that drew us to these locations, ones who had already garnered praise on the colorful pages of CarolineonCrack.com.
First up was Joel at Comme Ça. While my previous drunk persona once found daytime drinking exhilarating, my new sober self actually received similar pleasure from easily getting a parking spot right in front of the restaurant.
In past visits I’d tried Comme Ça’s four signature cocktails. So this time Joel suggested a Bobby Burns from his special bar menu. This spin on a Rob Roy was a combo of a jigger of scotch, a pony of sweet vermouth and a bar spoon of Benedictine.
It was gonna be hard to top. The vermouth and benedictine took the burn out of the scotch, leaving a smoothness that almost reminded me of a root beer dum dum. That’s my favorite lollipop so it’s a compliment.
At this point it became apparent that there’s something that holds true in successful people no matter what industry. Whether it’s bartending, being president or racing cars- the most successful people have three areas covered: 1. raw talent, 2. charisma that draws you in and 3. strong contacts. Joel exhibiting all three before we’d even finished our drinks. His ability to site the classics and add a modern twist is his talent. His passion for what he does helps him exude an aura that is inviting. His comraderie with his mixology cohorts (he’s part of The Sporting Life, LA’s bartenders’ guild) secures him a spot at the top of his field.
I had a half dozen oysters to compliment the brilliant drink. Cause why not…
Next up was STK, where Pablo Moix left some recipes for his bartender on duty. These drinks were notably different than Comme Ça’s as they all had ice. Ultimately, and not to be insulting, they seemed to be a bit more about creativity and playfullness than drinkability.
My favorite was the Surfer on Absinthe- a twist on the highly popular Surfer on Acid (Jagermeister, Malibu and pineapple juice).
The third and final stop was Copa d’Oro. Vincenzo is the ultimate bartender- knowledgeable, gregarious, serious about his drinks yet not too serious about his job. We had a fun time at his bar, which is lively, dark and an extension of his personality. Between the thick accent and goatee, he resembles Top Chef fan favorite Fabio.
We had a bourbon-based mixture of Orange Bitter, Galliano, Peychaud Bitters and Grapefruit Rind.
We also had The Diva: Sazerac Rye, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, Lemon Bitters and a substitute of Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur.
The surprise of the evening came in the form of Vincenzo’s genre bending Sour Kraut. It’s probably better known as “that mustard drink,” as the cocktail features Martin Miller’s Gin, Cointreau, Orange Marmalade, Fresh Lemon Juice and Dijon Mustard.
On its own it’s interesting but not necessarily satisfying. Coupled with a piping hot ham and cheese panini, however, it’s phenomenal. It’s the perfect way to end an evening of drinking.