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Since June contains the longest day of the year, bartenders are all about creating bright, refreshing libations made with this season’s produce and best enjoyed poolside or on the patio. Whether it’s a crafty Spicy Cucumber Margarita or a decadent stirred Jungle Bird variation, these are perfect for kicking off the summer.
New beverage director Julian Cox is applying a little bit of his L.A. touch to Three Dots and a Dash. His variation on the Piña Colada, named after rapper/actor Ice Cube’s well-known “bye, Felicia” burn in Friday, will be updated with every season. For the spring/summer version, Diplomático añejo and Coruba dark rums are complemented with lemongrass tincture, Thai basil, coconut cream, diced pineapple and lime.
(image: Jeff Morini)
New bar director Chris Amirault wanted to turn a cocktail that’s beloved in the L.A. bar community and flip it in an unexpected way, so he made the D’Angelo Old Fashioned. This Jungle Bird/Old Fashioned hybrid is dry but fruit-forward courtesy of pineapple juice and Plantation Pineapple Rum Stiggins’ Fancy, while Cruzan Black Strap rum lends a crisp, molasses note. The result is an unforgettable stirred Tiki variation.
Out of Bitter & Twisted’s recently released third cocktail book/menu, the new Bear Witness stands out not just for its adorable honey bear presentation but how dangerously drinkable it is. The Kikori whiskey in the refreshing cocktail is complemented by yuzu marmalade, peppercorn honey and citrus with a dash of Laphroaig scotch for a hint of smokiness.
The shift from spring to summer calls for an eye opener, especially for those afflicted with allergies, according to bar manager Andy Parkinson. And what better way to awaken the drowsy than with a take on the Corpse Reviver No. 2? This one, named after a Haitian man turned “zombie” in a well-documented case of voodoo preparation, is made with Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve, Cocchi Americano Rosa, Cointreau, lime, spiced demerara syrup and Angostura syrup.
Bartender Ronnie Buders wanted to create a summery alternative to the Manhattan, and he may have succeeded with this cocktail. With floral Bolivian brandy Singani 63 the focus of the drink, he combined it with tomato-infused Cocchi Americano to tone down the spirit’s sweetness. Sauvignon blanc then helps dry out the stirred cocktail, while pamplemousse gives it a crispness.
This vitamin-packed cocktail demonstrates the best solution to that whole ugly vegetable issue. Chef Abe Conlon figured out that the best way to showcase a batch of homely snap peas is to use it to infuse gin. For this drink, the fresh-tasting liquor is then mixed with cucumber, fennel, jalapeño and lovage bitters. It’s a refreshing, vegetal summer sipper.
This is one Zombie cocktail that won’t knock you out. A quartet of sherries (fino, olorosso, amontillado, East India), the Jerez Zombie is a well-structured drink with big flavor as well as backbone courtesy of Lustau Solera Reserva brandy. House-made fennel syrup lends the cocktail brightness, while almond, maraschino and bitters create a viscous mouthfeel. Fortunately, because of its lower alcohol content, unlike the original, there isn’t a two-cocktail maximum.
Apotheke recently launched an all-absinthe cocktail menu just for Sundays, and one of the favorites is this bright and savory Faerie’s Tail. The concoction, featuring Vieux Pontarlier absinthe and Fords gin, blends green pepper and watercress for refreshing vegetal notes, while egg whites give it a smooth finish. The summer cocktail’s components come together tasting like a freshly tossed salad.
For a unique take on the spicy cucumber margarita, instead of tequila or mezcal, bartender Patrick Natola used sotol, a spirit with a vegetal quality as well as subtle smokiness. Here, house-made cucumber syrup brightens up the savory spirit, while Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub rounds it out with a spicy kick.
It’s easy to forget those beach body concerns when considering this cocktail at Belcampo. Barman Josh Goldman pays homage to the summertime treat with this decadent but well-balanced flip made with a duo of whiskies, Park VSOP cognac, crème de cacao, hickory orgeat, cinnamon, chocolate and toasted pecan bitters. The Auchentoshan triple-wood scotch and Corsair triple-smoke whiskey bring back campfire memories, with the hickory orgeat and crème de cacao evoking that creamy and melted chocolate bar goodness.
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