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Day Drinking in LA

Drinking doesn’t always have to be a night time event, and fortunately there are several places in Los Angeles that are happy to provide you drinks any time you like, such as

By - Jake Kolpas


 

Angel City Brewing Co.


216 South Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA
http://angelcitybrewery.com/

This brewery in the middle of Downtown LA is currently undergoing renovations, but in November they will re-open their doors for people to try $5 pints of beers brewed on site. Grab a Che Guevara (this is the name of one of their beers), wander around the art exhibits that are frequently up in the brewery, and if you get hungry grab food from one of the trucks that frequently parks outside, or go across the street to grab a grilled sausage at Wurstkuche.

Overland Cafe


3601 Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
http://www.overlandcafe.com/

 

This neighborhood brunch spot in Palms recently underwent a makeover and is now known as “The Overland.” Please don’t call it that, as it truly isn’t the trendy gastropub it’s trying to be. It’s a place where you can get quality food in a nice environment that’s prime for people-watching, and their unlimited champagne brunch on weekends only sweetens the deal. Here’s how to go about it:
1. Order the unlimited champagne brunch
2. Keep getting free refills on champagne
3. Don’t get refills on orange juice unless you want to pay for it
4. Order the shrimp and guacamole omelette once you have a nice buzz going

Stark Bar


5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
http://www.patinagroup.com/restaurant.php?restaurants_id=133

 

Daytime drinking is fun, but drinking cocktails, outdoors, AT A MUSEUM? This elevates daytime drinking to an entirely new level. This is exactly what you can do at Stark Bar, a classy outdoor cocktail bar on the site of LACMA. Make a reservation, as they can fill up fast on popular days; order a G-Funk Era (a G&T with house made gin, bitters, and grapefruit peel); and proceed to look at Metropolis II in sheer wonder.

Westside Tavern


10850 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
http://westsidetavernla.com/
Westside Tavern has fantastic food, original cocktails, and an excellent menu of locally brewed beers, but it gets bonus points for being under a movie theater. You do the math. The Country Thyme Lemonade and Berries, Basil & Gin are both recommended if you’re in to fruit and herbs together (which you totally should be).

 



Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

By Michelle Moore

Prohibition Era Chicago brings to mind images of gangsters and flappers sequestered away in smoky speakeasies, clandestine clubs overflowing with jazz and gin. Many former speakeasies such as the infamous Green Mill and The Rainbo Club are still open for business, enabling patrons to step (or shimmy) back to the roaring 20’s for a taste of the same Sazerac Al Capone once swilled.  However, recent years have given rise to a new generation of bars and cocktail lounges, built upon the backs of bootleggers, serving up highball glasses of swirling intoxicants at once familiar and entirely new. These fanciful, reimagined beverages have refined the spirit of the very spirits at hand, while paying homage to the raw and gritty Prohibition Era libations from whence they came. Sidle over to these fine Chicago establishments to ring in the new year with a taste of the old. One is silver and the other’s gold!

The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room in Chicago

A discretely marked door tucked between two storefronts in Chicago’s bustling Gold Coast is the only whisper passersby may receive of the epicurean wonderland unfolding beneath their feet.  Descending the foreboding stairs to the cavernous dining room below, visitors to The Drawing Room can’t help but suspect they’ve slipped through a portal to 1920’s Chicago.

With mixologist Charles Joly manning the martini shakers, it’s no wonder The Drawing Room has been consistently featured on Esquire’s “America’s Best Bars” list since its inception in 2007. Joly’s discerning fingerprints are all over The Drawing Room’s well-appointed bar, stocked with a litany of local labels produced in and around Chicago. Malort,  anyone? Patrons who settle at the low, stone tables in the dining room, away from the main bar, will find their drinks mixed tableside by deftly skilled servers pushing gilded beverage trollies. The highlight of my visit was The Affiliate, a Charles Joly original featuring 8 year-old Jamaican rum, fino sherry, and Angostura bitters, sure to chase the chill from your bones even as the snow piles up outside.

Come for the cocktails, stay for the club. The Drawing Room gives way to Le Passage, an upscale nightclub churning out tunes faster than the kitchen churns out kobe beef sliders. chatting up your server may grant you access to the dance floor without paying the inordinate cover charge…but you didn’t hear it from us! 

 

 

 

Barrelhouse Flat

If Roald Dahl’s Willie Wonka sought to sip crafted cocktails and rub elbows with Chicago’s hippest hipsters, this new Lincoln Park haunt would undoubtedly be his first stop. With wispy clouds of homemade cotton candy gracing the tables and glistening decanters of punch drained into tea cups, The Barrelhouse Flat infuses an enchanting sense of whimsy into a laid-back night on the town.

A complex cocktail menu 60 selections deep, lovingly crafted by mixologist Stephen Cole, promises not to disappoint even the most particular palates. Can’t find what you like? The friendly, attentive staff are incredibly knowledgeable (and in my case, mercifully tolerant) and the bartenders would be happy to whip up something special to suit your personal taste.  I found their rendition of The Last Word (my favorite Prohibition Era cocktail, originating in Detroit in 1922) to be top notch.  

While the downstairs bar is a hectic, seat-yourself affair, the lavish upstairs lounge, complete with private billiards room, is where the magic happens. One part speakeasy, one part cozy living room, it’s worth arriving early to secure a seat near the fireplace.

 

Curio

Curio ChicagoWell-informed Chicagoans putting on the ritz this Saturday night need look no further than Curio… if they can find it! Nestled cozily beneath Gilt Bar, Curio is neigh inaccessible to all but those who already know where it is. Take the staircase behind the bar, follow the cryptic signs, spin around three times (optional, although I’ve heard it helps) and duck through the heavy curtain to find yourself in a candlelit chamber of classic cocktails and whispers in the dark.

If you’re not fortunate enough to secure one of the three (just three!) coveted barstools, don’t fret. Massive red leather sofas will cradle you in comfort while the waitstaff mixes your Manhattan. The cocktails here have a classic flair. Skip the somewhat tawdry tiki-inspired menu and let the bartenders do what they do best. The Sidecar, Whiskey Sour and Pimms Cup all exceeded my lofty expectations.

A word of warning: the bar here is cash only. A hassel? Yes. But worth the minor inconvenience to preserve the hushed, underground vibe. Apparently the old-fashion cash register prominently displayed behind the bar isn’t just for show!

Interested in exploring the authentic side of Prohibition Era Chicago? The Chicago Historical Society hosts a plethora of pub crawls where history buffs and curious cocktail aficionados alike can brush up on their Chicago lore.

Curio Cash Register in Chicago

LA’s Late Night Dining

By Jake Kolpas

While LA doesn’t quite hold the reputation of being a “24-hour city,” there are plenty of late-night dining gems all around town, such as:

Fat Sal’s (Westwood)
972 Gayley Avenue
Open until 3AM

This institution specializes in fat sandwiches, a New Jersey college student delicacy that made its way to UCLA and consists of every fried food you can think of packed inside a sandwich roll. If you’re craving chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and french fries all in one mouthful then look no further.

Tacos El Gallito (Westwood)
Corner of Westwood and Santa Monica
Always open

This taco truck franchise’s Westwood location offers some of the best tortas I’ve had on the west side. Loaded with beans, cheese, avocado, and your choice of meat, these sandwiches will only set you back a few bucks. The best part? Sometimes you receive an entire grilled onion with your meal (although you can never predict when this happens).

The Quesadilla Lady (Echo Park)
Corner of Sunset and Echo Park, in front of Walgreen’s
Open until there are no more quesadillas

It’s always worthwhile to stop at this tiny cart operated by one woman who sells freshly made quesadillas. Choose your filling (the chicken quesadillas are fantastic) and prepare yourself for some of the freshest, most flavorful quesadillas you can find in LA or elsewhere.

Mexicali Taco and Co. (Downtown)
1820 Industrial St
Open until they run out of ingredients

This stand was recently voted as having the best tacos in LA, and while I won’t deny that, it’s the specialty creations that draw people to Mexicali. Try the vampiros (garlic-infused quesadillas) or cachetadas (crispy corn tortillas with cheese, chipotle aioli, and your choice of meat).

Famima!! (Downtown LA/Santa Monica)
Multiple locations
Some open until 2AM, some open 24 hours

If you want a fairly authentic Japanese experience in LA, stop at Famima after a night of drunken karaoke. LA’s branches of this Japanese convenience store chain offer classic Japanese snacks like onigiri (stuffed rice balls wrapped in seaweed) as well as steamed buns, sandwiches, and various fried foods.

Search for the Midnight Mixologist

Search for the Midnight Mixologist - Kelli Brockmeyer

I am searching for the Midnight Mixologist. I am a Midwesterner who has found herself living and breathing the Miami heat for the last decade. Not that Miami Heat, but the heat of the nightlife that stirs up in Miami Beach. It’s hard to know where to go, who’s going to charge you $25 for a drink that tastes like backwash, and who actually puts their genius into liquid form in hopes you’ll taste the difference. I plan to make it easier and exciting for those who enjoy a good drink by discovering these miracles in a glass and the Mixologists who produce them. You won’t be disappointed.


I’d like to introduce Nathan who works at the tranquil-hip cocktail lounge called HaVen on 1237 Lincoln Road, ph. 305-987-8885.

He makes for me the “feVer,” which perfectly mixes together Grey Goose Poire, jalapeno and lychee juices, and pear Prosecco.


With so many bars experimenting with jalapeno infused beverages, this is the first one that got it right. The jalapeno was not overpowering. The back of my tongue felt the slight heat while the rest of my taste buds just enjoyed the sweet ride.

My second favorite is called “caViar” which unifies Patron with pineapple juice and blood orange puree with a dash of cracked pepper. Once the special ingredient, liquid nitrogen is added, the blood orange freezes into tiny, tasty, bubble-like floaters that look like, you guessed it, caviar.


Besides the straight-up coolness of this drink, it was also one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Well done.

The second Mixologist I was lucky to meet was Tomer in the Living Room at the hotel W on 2201 Collins Avenue, ph. 305-938-3000.


This bartender has his own recipes that aren’t on the menu, so make sure to ask for him. The best was a tart and phenomenal tasting vodka concoction made with handpicked sage and rosemary, muddled lime and agave nectar strained and served up. I was uplifted by the scent of sage, but I gulped it down like Kool-Aid. I’ll definitely be back.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for fantastic drinks in Miami Beach. Until next time, bottoms up!

-Kelli Brockmeyer

Tea Infused Spirits: A Boost to the Traditional Cocktail

The market for specialty tea has been on the rise since the early 1900s as people began recognizing the invigorating and healthy attributes that tea had to offer.  Once lauded as a beverage based on etiquette and prestige, loose-leaf tea is now finding itself as a tool for mixologists who have taken the traditional method of brewing tea with water to a new level by infusing tea leaves directly into hard liquor and spirits.  Tea infused cocktails are finding themselves on menus of fine restaurants and bistros, creating a whole new flavor profile to the traditional cocktail.  According to Tony Gebely, owner of Chicago Tea Garden, “The art of creating unique spirits is limitless when using tea; infusing tea into alcohol brings out a different array of flavors that water alone can not produce.  High quality, yet affordable tea such as a Chinese Tie Guan Yin or Golden Bi Lou can provide unique flavors previously unknown to the cocktail world.”  Recognizing that loose-leaf tea can add complexity and intrigue to the traditional cocktail has opened the door to limitless possibilities.  Any mixologist will tell you that it’s all about experimentation.  Tea infused spirits can be done in a matter of days by simply adding loose-leaf tea leaves to any alcohol such as vodka or rum and letting the flavor of the leaves infuse.  Tea syrups can also be made by reducing tea leaves in sugar and water to form a syrup.  Whether ordering a tea-based cocktail at your neighborhood bistro, or preparing one at home, tea based beverages are sure to impress guests and offer a fresh twist to afternoon tea.

Direct quote from Tony Gebely

by: Katie Herman

Think small: Indie distillers craft spirits not for the masses

During prohibition, a neighbor with a still was the best friend a would-be tippler could have. Today Americans can get all the spirits they want, thanks to the 21st Amendment, but ease of access and mass production of distilled spirits may have cost us something in the personal touch and unique character of handcrafted spirits. But small-batch production is making a significant comeback as many regions ease up on their restrictions on distilleries, leading to a growing craze among cocktail fans for spirits from independent producers.

"I think it started with the locavore food movement; people started getting more and more conscious about knowing where their food's coming from, and that trend is coming over into cocktails," said mixologist Adam Seger of Naçional 27 in Chicago, who says he mainly uses craft spirits behind the bar. "It's a great way to support your local economy, but also you're getting spirits that have a great deal more flavor and character."

Not many bartenders can say they have their own liquor brand, but Seger does. Hum, his unique, botanically infused rum, will end 2011 with 3,000 cases. Whistle Pig Rye, the small-batch darling, had 2,500 cases available this year.

According to Seger, the explosion in the openings of craft distilleries makes it possible for more bartenders to create a formula and partner with a local distillery to produce it, which makes the process much less complicated than attempting to build one's own distillery. Distilleries are faced with countless red tape and licensing issues that can make it difficult for a small brand to get footing. Some brands even have to change the laws to do so.

Chicago's Koval Distillery successfully lobbied Illinois to create a craft distiller's license, which went into effect last summer, and FEW Spirits in Evanston, Ill., which produces gin and white whiskey, had to get the law changed to allow for distiller's licenses in a town that was founded as a dry city and didn't give up its own mini prohibition until the 1970s.

A small-batch producer's size is one of its greatest assets, according to FEW founder Paul Hletko. "I don't expect to sell three million cases of my product, so I don't have to create a product that will appeal to three million people," he said. "People are excited to have the small batch spirits that are different. There's an awful lot of distilleries in the country that are producing truly different unique spirits that are different than you can get form the big boys and people are excited to get that."

by Elizabeth Licata

Off the Menu: Rudy Torres' Flortini

Mixologists may slave over their seasonal menus and special offerings, but some of the most exciting drinks around can only be found under the table. Ask any good bartender, and chances are good that he's got something secret in the works that just hasn't made it to the menu yet. To find out what's the next big thing, we're going off the menu in search of next season's cocktails.

 

Rudy Torres at Topo Gigio in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood has been working to roll out something festive and refreshing; his Flortini is made with two parts Pinnacle cake-flavored vodka and one part fresh pineapple juice, shaken together, poured into a Champagne flute that's then filled with Prosecco and garnished with a maraschino cherry to create an overall effect that's almost exactly like drinking a pineapple upside-down cake in a glass.

 

The phrase "cake-flavored vodka" is enough to make most cocktail aficionados blanch, but the ingredients balance out to create a flavor that's refreshing but not cloying, and unusual enough to satisfy most seekers of unique libations. The Flortini is sweet, to be sure, but the Prosecco gives the drink a bright fizz that lightens the impact of the cake-flavored vodka, and the blast of pineapple keeps the profile fresh instead of sticky.

"I feel like I should be drinking this by an outdoor hotel pool at night during some kind of fabulous party," one taster opined.

"This reminds me of a Bellini," another taster said. "But it's a lot lighter, so I could drink a lot more of them. That's definitely a good thing."

By Elizabeth Licata

The Libation Attraction

Martini

I see the bar is packed tightly tonight, friends. The air is crisp in downtown New York City as the young 20-somethings in attendance all hunt for a fun and sexually satisfying evening. It appears they’ve all come to the right location, the bar that sits hidden and nearly invisible on Mercer Street just between Spring and Broome. The outside shows no indication of a name, simply a martini glass and the number 89 below it. Bar89—the beautifully trendy restaurant/bar in SoHo—invites you all inside tonight.

The future rummies, the horny cubicle dwellers… these are the barflies I notice this evening.

They’re all present with slightly boasted egos because each knew about the trendy hotspot. Everyone is on the lookout, eyes reeling and pulse racing.

And they all have one thing in common: they’re drinking.

Libations

Each one screams different things, some are more approachable than others but all call out something about the hand securely wrapped around them. Are you hot or not? Are you virtuous? Tonight, as I span across the room I see all types:

The fruity martinis.

The minty mojitos.

The brawny beers.

Would they ever mingle? Or would they each be forced to only converse with similar beverages? The man next to me with his Starburst Martini, would he ever be able to approach the woman towards the corner who holds the same drink, or would she turn him away for fear that his masculinity is about the same or even lower than a toddler’s?

Drinks.

They say a lot about us: who we are, what we like and especially what kind of evening we wish to have or are going to have.

I see two Vodka Martinis tonight:

The drink is traditional and respected.

The young woman sipping it down it calls comes and get me. She’ll be flirty, sensual even. Prove that you are worthy among the countless amount of guys that hit on her along with being well groomed and clean your night could head towards a direction topped with pleasure filed-moans and lust.

That mature beautify drinking it down the bar, you’ll hear I’ll eat you alive from hers… something that can either be immensely enticing or frightening. Should you choose the former she might be combative at first, reluctant even. However, if you’re able to withstand initial rejection and show that you are the one who can make her feel young again, congratulations I say.

Your decision.

Luckily, tonight I see no women with the typical beer:

Unless you’ve just been released from prison, are an avid biker or enjoy spending all day in the woods hunting, forget approaching this one. The beer screams either I’m alone and like it or I sleep with women and like it.

We are what we drink. I assure you of that.

We are that fruity cocktail. We are that minty refreshment. And we are on the prowl.

By Kyle Dowling