BEST SPICY COCKTAILS IN L.A. (some recipes included)

Henri’s Four Aces

Four Aces with Jalapeño

Four Aces with Jalapeño

While I’ve been adding chili to almost everything that enters my mouth and can be chewed for years, I’ve only recently begun applying this staple to cocktails – surprising if you knew how much I love chili and how many cocktails I’ve chugged in the last decade. I think what got me started with my new drink kick is a cocktail called “The Thug” at the The Roger Room (an art deco bar that recently opened where the Coronet Theater used to be on La Cienega). I was lucky enough to have stumbled in on the establishment’s pre-opening night a few months ago while the staff were familiarizing themselves with the new menu, testing out their skills on over-enthusiastic guinea pigs like myself. After trying as many of the free cocktails as I could, I discovered this spicy whisky concoction, The Thug, which has forever altered my drinking life. The Thug consists of: Maker’s Mark, honey liquer, organic lemon juice and habañero-infused bitters.

Damian Windsor at the Roger Room

 

And while The Thug was my gateway drug, the real root of my new addiction started out, innocently enough, as a vodka cocktail they have called the Four Aces. I love it, but it isn’t spicy. So, getting on the mixologists’ nerves as I’m prone to do, I ask them to add jalapeño every time. The ingredients are Monopolowa vodka, fresh basil, green grapes, lime juice & Canton Ginger Liqueur, served on the rocks with a metal straw. It’s strong, smooth, tasty and not too sweet. The addition of jalapeño and crushed ice instead of rocks makes this the most delicious spicy cocktail I’ve ever tried and – probably purely due to the egotistical fact that I helped create it – the winner of this blog.

The Burning Mandarin

Two Burning Mandarins

This spicy cocktail is infamous. And though I went to Katsuya in Brentwood three years ago, I had not yet discovered the wonders of mouth-searing beverages and somehow failed to notice The Burning Mandarin martini. I’ve been meaning to try their signature cocktail ever since but it’s not on the menu at the Katsuya-run establishments I frequent: Izaka-Ya Katsu-Ya in West Hollywood or the Katsu-Ya in Studio City (both of which are chef Katsuya Uechi’s toned-down versions of the Philippe Stark-designed, SBE Group monstrosities in Brentwood, Hollywood, Encino and Downtown).

So a few weeks ago I braced myself for the soul-sucking Hollywood location on Vine so I could finally taste this highly anticipated martini – and it was totally worth the sacrifice! Made with mandarin vodka, freshly squeezed juice, simple syrup and crushed serrano pepper, it was served in a sugar rimmed martini glass: super strong, sweet, spicy and refreshing(-ish). I had one and spent the rest of the meal trying to sober up. We sat at the bar and ordered my if-I-were-stuck-on-a-dessert-island-and-had-to-choose-one-dish special: the baked crab roll with avocado, and sincerely questioned why I don’t eat there every day.

Burning Mandarin Recipe:

2 thin slices fresh serrano pepper, divided                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         1 1/2 ounces mandarin vodka, such as Absolut or Hangar One
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce cranberry juice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 orange wedge

1. Place 1 slice serrano pepper into a cocktail shaker and mash lightly with a muddler. Add vodka, lemon and orange juices, simple syrup and cranberry juice. Fill shaker with ice. Place a mixing glass over the cocktail shaker, hold together firmly and shake back and forth 10 times.

2. Run the orange wedge around the rim of a rocks glass and dip the glass into the sugar. Strain the cocktail into the sugar-lined rocks glass. Coat the remaining slice of serrano with the remaining sugar; float on the liquid as a garnish.

The Hot Tamale

The Super Hot Tamale

The Hungry Cat is known for its phenomenal cocktails but one that’s no longer on the list, The Hot Tamale, I’m considering petitioning them to bring back. Last time I went to the Hungry Cat our obnoxious waiter refused to let us order it, but I couldn’t write this blog until I had been back and tried it. A week ago, the perfect opportunity arose when I went there before the Pixies played at the Palladium a couple of blocks down the road and found a more sympathetic server. You used to be able to order a regular Hot Tamale or a super spicy one, the latter of which I, of course, opted for. By the time my friends arrived, I had pretty much finished it, just in time to order another round for the three of us. The cocktail totally lived up to its reputation. Made with reposado tequila, fresh lime and orange juice, fresno chili, and simple syrup, it’s super spicy, with tons of flavor and dangerously easy to drink. So easy that I had to stop myself from ordering thirds before I missed the concert.

The restaurant is also famous for its large selection of Bloody Marys and what I think to be the best Michelada in town. I have no idea what’s makes it taste so good but, despite the fact they use cheap Tecaté beer, it just does. They also have a grapefruit version which I haven’t tried and don’t really have any desire to – but maybe you will.

Hungry Cat Bloody Mary‘s menu:

Traditional or Spicy Bloody Mary with egorushka vodka   10.00

Schnockered Bloody Mary plymouth gin & house-pickled vegetables   10.00

The “Matchbox” our traditional with a shorty of beer   13.00

Maryland Mary our traditional bloody mary rimmed with maryland spice mix & served with an oyster   13.00

Farmer’s Friend egorushka vodka, muddled cucumber & tomato, lime juice & toasted fennel seed    10.00

Michelada

Malo has my other favorite Michelada and they let you choose what beer you have in it. One of my best friends who lives in the purple house almost across the street from the Mexican locale, introduced me to the specialty and I’ve never looked back.

Malo’s Michelada Recipe:

Recipe adapted by Christine D’Abrosca

Makes one drink

Salt, for rimming

Lime wedges, for rimming and garnish

Ice

6 to 7 dashes Tapatio hot sauce

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

3/4 ounce fresh lime juice

Pinch of Tajin Fruit and Snack Seasoning (click for source)

One 12-ounce Mexican beer (Pacifico, Negro Modelo or Tecate)

1. Moisten the rim of a Collins glass with lime and dip it in salt.

2. Fill the glass with ice and add the Tapatio, Worcestershire, lime juice and Tajin seasoning.

3. Top with beer and garnish with a lime wedge.

Bloody Mary

This category needs to have a blog of its own but for now Top Chef celebrity Tom Colicchio’s restaurant, Craft, wins the prize. I tend to drink Bloody Mary’s on a hangover and when I went to Craft it was no different. I have no idea what made it so good but I think the trick is a teaspoonful of horseradish paste, Worcestershire sauce and a lot of spice. The staple recipe at Craft is Hangar One Chipotle Vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, lemon Oil, crushed Black Pepper, and pickled Bean. Sadly, my friend and I didn’t know about the Hangar One (this chipotle-infused, hand-distilled gourmet vodka they use), and ordered ours with Grey Goose, extra spicy.

Given how awful I felt at lunch, the corporate vibe at the Century City restaurant provided absolutely no relief. It was overly pretentious, huge, and uncharismatic. The doorman had no idea that the restaurant is located on the same corner as the Comerica building which made it extremely challenging to find, despite being on the phone with him, standing on the opposite corner of the Avenue of the Stars/Constellation Avenue intersection. We had to ask for our drinks twice – both times – before they finally arrived and, although the waiters were friendly and trying to be helpful, they only seemed to attend to us once we already had what we wanted. Getting a menu and giving our orders took way too much effort, although the quality of the drinks and food definitely helped. Even the pumpernickel anise bread was irresistible. I selfishly ate it all while my friend who was inviting me to lunch didn’t get a chance to even try it. He seemed way too preoccupied with his cocktails anyway.

From Tom Colicchio’s amazing website www.eatdrinkordie.com, here are a couple of video recipes for Bloody Mary’s.

Grey Goose Le Citron Pickled Mary: http://www.eatdrinkordie.com/videos/ad2a6f3654/grey-goose-le-citron-pickled-mary-from-grey-goose-vodka

Bloody Mary from Scratch: http://www.eatdrinkordie.com/videos/73c1bc28ac/bloody-mary-drink-of-the-day-from-steve-calabro-drink-slinger

Best Bar Tender’s Choice

Vodka with mint, lime, ginger and bitters

The Varnish downtown is my new favorite bar in Los Angeles. They have a specialty cocktail list which is limited to about five varieties and not very inspiring. What I love so much is that you can ask for nearly any kind of alcohol and flavors you like and the mixologist will concoct a delicious surprise out of them.

There are two separate bars: one by the entrance of a dive diner called Cole’s; and Varnish, a dark den hidden behind a secret entrance in the back. The one downside is the service at The Varnish is abominable. First of all, even if it’s half empty inside, the door man will make you wait in Cole’s, the self-proclaimed originator of The French Dip and oldest Public House in Los Angeles, for as long as his heart desires. This didn’t actually work out too badly because the Red Car Bar there is equally as good,  not at all crowded, and, I have since discovered, serves alcohol from 11 a.m! Conversely, at The Varnish, it’s considered to be a privilege to be allowed in, the line at the bar is a joke, the mixologists think they are God’s gift to alcoholics and although there is table service don’t hold your breath. The drinks are amazing but by the time you get one you’re already overdue for your next.

Vodka with apricot and egg white froth at The Varnish

 

If you are ordering directly at the bar, steer away from the basics to avoid an evil eye. Even vodka is frowned upon, but I wasn’t in the mood for a hangover and ordered it a couple of times regardless. My first request was vodka with mint, lime and ginger. With added bitters and poured over crushed ice, it was perfect. The second time I asked for something with vodka and frothy egg white, which I had been eying as it circulated the room. They added apricot and the drink was creamy but light and, even though not exactly what I was after, it was delicious. Having gone back since, I have noticed that convincing people to drink gin, rye-based cocktails, and the use of frothy egg whites seem to be a recurring theme there.

Cole's

 

I recommend going in the early evening when it’s still empty and you have plenty of time to get steadily drunk. Or just stick to Cole’s. Either way, despite my complaints, I love them both.

For more of the best cocktails in L.A., read this L.A. Times article. It is mouth-watering! And yes, I know…it puts my iphone pics to shame.

L.A. Cocktails

Liquid Heaven

  • From top: Blood Sugar Sex Magic, The Donají, The BarbacoaFrom top: Blood Sugar Sex Magic, The Donají, The Barbacoa
  • From left: The King of Bahia, The Arsenal, The NettleFrom left: The King of Bahia, The Arsenal, The Nettle
  • From left: The Brown Derby, The Spiced Mule, South of the Border SazeracFrom left: The Brown Derby, The Spiced Mule, South of the Border Sazerac
  • From left: Remember the Maine, The Fashionista, Old-Fashioned, FrescuraFrom left: Remember the Maine, The Fashionista, Old-Fashioned, Frescura
  • Pisco SourPisco Sour

The epicenter of groundbreaking cocktail culture? It’s right here in Los Angeles  by Wyatt Peabody / photographs by Nigel Cox / coordinated by Jennifer Stockley

At the Varnish, a speakeasy-style downtown bar that is now the city’s shrine to the art of the cocktail, the who’s who of the L.A. mixology scene are arriving. Tucked into the back of Cole’s, it’s a fine gathering place for an event with the Sporting Life, a skull-and-bones guild of our most celebrated bartenders. Steven Olson is pacing out front, doing last-minute fact-checking on the history of the margarita. His colleague David Wondrich is taking the full brunt of Olson’s frayed nerves. “Some of the most important bartenders in the country are in there,” says Olson. “I need to make sure this story has been confirmed.”

As the room fills, a near fistfight erupts in the corner—about ice. Yes, frozen water. The two bartenders defend their positions like fam­ily honor. Ice is that big of a deal. In fact, it might—save only for temperature—be the single most overlooked factor affecting mainstream cocktails. As bartender Eric Alpe­rin asserts, “Ice is the bartender’s flame, and it’s often the most disregarded ingredient.”

Olson begins his presentation and goes on to debunk an old myth: The margarita was not invented in an Acapulco bar in 1948; it is actually a descendent of the Brandy Daisy, which dates back to the late 19th century. A gasp issues from the crowd—these people are serious cocktail nerds.

“The Barbacoa pushes all the boundaries of taste—sweet, salty, sour, bitter and, yes, the fifth element: umami.”

“Half of the country’s top 10 bartenders today are in L.A.,” Olson says. But as recently as six years ago, the state of cocktails in Los Angeles was at a low point. In spite of the city’s illustrious lineage, only a handful of places remained where one could get a proper drink. Gone were the days of Billy Wilkerson and his speakeasy-inspired nightclub crusade that included classic haunts like Ciro’s and Trocadero.

Enter the visionaries. In 2004, it seemed like a crazy idea to make a pilgrimage from, say, the Westside to downtown for one of Cedd Moses’ first properties, the Golden Gopher. Moses was an early pioneer and cannot be given enough props in terms of his vital role in reshaping downtown and preserving our cocktail legacy.

Today, the rate at which significant cocktail bars are opening and world-class bartenders are emerging makes Los Angeles the most exciting scene in the United States.

The proof, however, as is said, is in the pudding—or in this case, the libation. Our informal tasting panel sipped its way across town to seek out noteworthy and unique drinks that not only taste remarkable but represent a creative leap in construction. The research, we assure you, was strictly academic..


     

The Barbacoa, The Donají and Blood Sugar Sex Magic

JULIAN COX, Rivera

JulianRivera’s Cox is modest and kindly, but his cocktails at this downtown spot are fierce—starting with the Barbacoa—a blend of Herra­dura Silver tequila, lime juice, red jalapeños and red bell peppers, chipotle puree, house-made ginger syrup and agave nectar, garnished with beef jerky. (Note: Barbacoa refers to meats wrapped in maguey leaves and cooked in earthen holes.) It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted and breaks myriad rules in its ascent to brilliance. The nose erupts immediately into perplexity, pushing all the boundaries of what we know about taste—sweet, salty, sour, bitter and, yes, the fifth element: umami.

The Donají is Cox’s ode to the storied Zapotec princess, featuring Del Maguey San Luis del Rio mezcal, citrus juice and agave nectar, colorfully accented with fresh pomegranates, an organic lemon leaf and chapulin salt—the latter two garnered from unnamed local sources. This is perhaps the purest aromatic expression of mezcal that a cocktail has ever known. The palate is impeccably balanced, with an intense depth of flavor, refreshing finish and lingering clean redolence in which the sweet citrus marries with the herbaceous characteristics of the distillate.

Blood Sugar Sex Magic is a delectable potion of Michter’s Single Barrel US1 straight rye whiskey, agave nectar, chili pepper, lemon slices and basil. The ingredients are muddled and shaken, then served over ice. While the base spirit is decidedly non-Latin, the explosive, spicy flavors make for yet another beautiful cocktail pairing.

     

The King of Bahia

VINCENZO MARIANELLA, Copa d’ Oro

Selecting a single cocktail from Marianella—who, when he joined Providence in 2005, became il Padrino (the godfather) of L.A.’s cocktail renaissance—is challenging, particularly since his most compelling drinks are often invented on the spot. Among his jewels, however, is an appropriately named concoction that evokes the sensual essence of Brazil. The King of Bahia features disparate ingredients—Brazilian Sagatiba cachaça, St- Germain elderflower liqueur, passion fruit, lemon juice, jalapeño and simple syrup—that collide exquisitely with bossa nova–like poise. The immensely complex flavors are gloriously confusing to the palate, revealing layers of sophistication—running the spectrum from luscious nectar to intense heat—that are only trumped by sheer, unanticipated balance. Sultry and sumptuous.

A former semi-pro basketball player from Italy, Marianella is modest, claiming that since the age of 19 he has “stolen” techniques from bartenders from Sydney to New York to London, where he met his most significant mentor, Salvatore Calabrese. “But it takes two to tango. A passionate bartender can only do so much,” he says, referring to Moses, whom he bluntly calls a genius. Currently, Marianella is his own master at Copa d’Oro in Santa Monica, which he was tapped to join by Jonathan Chu at the beginning of 2009. The Westside oasis derives inspiration from the Santa Monica farmers’ market, allowing patrons to create cocktails from a select menu of spirits, herbs, fruits and vegetables—yielding exquisite libations.


     

The Arsenal

ZAHRA BATES, Providence

This master takes her craft up a notch with the Arsenal—a fruit-driven classically inspired cocktail that is seamlessly balanced in its sweetness. Bulleit bourbon, agave nectar, Angostura bitters and muddled olallieberries and passion-fruit puree add up to an unrivaled complexity and purity. “I suppose the Arsenal is a true reflection of my style of mixing,” Bates says. “I love to make the spirit I am working with shine—in this case, bourbon, drawing out the citrus and dark fruit notes, yet not forgetting its beautiful smoky qualities.” Her respect for the base spirit and its modifiers is evident; this has to be one of the best cocktails in the country.

When Bates—now mixing it up at Hollywood’s Providence, after working six years in London at the Sanderson Hotel, as well as at Hollywood’s legendary Bar Marmont—shakes a cocktail, she has to use her entire body, starting at the knees, because, as she kids, “I’m so small I need all the help I can get.” If you catch her on a slow night or early in a shift, you might be lucky enough to pull a few stories out of her—and she definitely has her share.


     

The Nettle

DANIEL NELSON, The Doheny

Deep in Nelson’s repertoire are cocktails containing ingredients that even seasoned barmen use sparingly—raw ginger, myriad liqueurs and absinthe, to name a few. He has an instinctive understanding of base spirits, their congeners and modifying agents, and he marries them effortlessly. Among his most popular are the Square Cup, the Ginger Marga­rita, the Walnut Manhattan and his infamous Blue Blazer.

The Nettle, however, is a singular mixture that might just flaunt the best use of absinthe in any libation. It blends fresh-squeezed blood-orange juice, honey syrup and absinthe—all shaken with ice and poured into a flute, then topped with champagne. It is immediately bright and refreshing while rich and darkly complex. To take the first sip is to embark on a journey that inevitably meanders into shady districts, consequential of the magnificent Le Tourment Vert absinthe, reconciling in the brightness of Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne.

Nelson entered the collective L.A. consciousness most prominently at Providence. These days, he’s both reviving centuries-old cocktails and blazing trails with new inventions at the Doheny, a private downtown club owned by Cedd Moses and Mark Verge.


     

The Brown Derby

MARCOS TELLO, The Edison and the Varnish

Few bartenders are more scholarly about cocktail history than Tello. He regales his patrons with stories of George Washington’s punch parties, culminating in a version of the Whiskey Rebellion you never read about in school. Tello’s Brown Derby—which originated at the Vendome, the first in a string of clubs opened by Billy Wilkerson—is about as easy as it gets in terms of ingredients: bourbon, grapefruit and honey. But his result is greater than the sum of its parts. By the third sip, complexity blooms, and the ingredients blend flawlessly.

Tello is the quintessential organizer—timeless and zealous in his campaign for reform—and he is beloved. He serves as president of the Southern Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), and he founded the Sporting Life, the society of L.A.’s benevolent cocktail illuminati.


     

The Spiced Mule

DAMIAN WINDSOR, The Roger Room

Among his peers, Australian native Damian Windsor is consistently mentioned as one of the best barmen in L.A. A favorite cocktail of his is the Spiced Mule, inspired by a trip to the Curio Parlor cocktail club in Paris and conjuring images of tall ships and late-19th-century seaports. “Rum was the first currency of Australia, and the only people eating limes back then were sailors,” he says. Everything is complementary and contradictory at the same time—naughty and pure. Fresh liquefied ginger is beautifully tempered by lime and a spice-infused simple syrup of nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon, paving a landing strip for the beautifully balanced Sailor Jerry spiced rum. The palate is intensely sweet, explosively spicy and entirely mysterious, yielding complex flavors, borrowing from the best of Indochina along the colonial spice route.

Windsor has a cult-like following that tracks his every move: from Table 8 to Copa d’Oro to Seven Grand. He currently holds forth at the Roger Room, which opened its unmarked doors on La Cienega earlier this summer.


     

South of the Border Sazerac

JASON BRAN, The Roger Room

Born out of a dinner in which he matched eight courses of food with original cocktails is Bran’s South of the Border Sazerac. The original Sazerac, one of the oldest known cocktails—and a New Orleans native like Bran—calls for rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters (and only Peychaud’s), a sugar cube, a splash of absinthe and a lemon for garnish. Bran loves the drink because “after all these years, it is true to the spirit—you can taste the whiskey. The bitters and absinthe are secondary.” In his version, he substitutes rye with Don Julio añejo tequila, the sugar cube with agave nectar, the Peychaud’s with Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters and Regans’ orange bitters. The tequila and bitters—unlikely bedfellows—interweave a structure in which the absinthe dances whimsically, lending an intricate harmony. This is innovative drinksmithing—breaking ground while maintaining a reverence for classics.

Bran trained in Seattle as both barman and circus performer. While under the tutelage of famed Seattle barman Murray Stenson of the Zig Zag Café, he studied with the Teatro ZinZanni troupe. His circus background coupled with an interest in writing led him to L.A., where he has made a significant name for himself as an assertive barman.


     

Remember the Maine

ERIC ALPERIN, The Varnish

Commemorating the attack on the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 and the subsequent call to arms that led to the Spanish-American War, Eric Alperin’s version of Remember the Maine is exceptional. The recipe includes Old Overholt rye—for its nutty profile and backbone—Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry, Cherry Heering, a spray of Pernod absinthe and a slightly wet Luxardo Marasche cherry. The rye is first and foremost, giving way to a battle between Cherry’s sweet spice and absinthe’s herbaceous muse. The overwhelmingly complex palate is at once sweet, sour and bitter, revealing layers of rich, deep flavor that persist indefinitely.

Alperin’s pedigree is unparalleled. After tenures in New York—Lupa (Mario Batali, Joe Bastian­ich) and the Milk & Honey/Little Branch family (Sasha Petraske)—he was brought here to open Osteria Mozza, then moved downtown to the Doheny and now the Varnish. For him, cocktails are personal: “Man, I relate drinks to moments and experiences—that first sip after a tough job or that glass of something after a good romp in the bedroom.”


     

The Fashionista

DAVID KUPCHINSKY, Comme Ça

This creation might just be Kupchinsky’s signature cocktail. The Fashionista calls for Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength gin (a good start), Peychaud’s bitters, a pinch of tarragon, Luxardo Marasche cherries and Banyuls vinegar. It’s a unique example of a culinary cocktail that stays within the realm of traditional libations. The very floral nature of the gin begins a delectable dance that is enhanced by the tarragon, taking twists into the sweetness of cherry and the sharpness of bitters. In between, there is something quite remarkable—a concoction of toasted juniper, white pepper and coriander seeds marinated in Banyuls vinegar that lends a delightful convolution. Think herbaceous, floral, spicy and rich.

At West Hollywood’s Comme Ça, Kupchinsky is unassuming and enchantingly disconnected from the scene. He seems to channel spirits in his cocktail making and relies on his intuition more than trends. He offers a decidedly refreshing twist on the sidecar—his lemon-verbena version calls for Kelt Cognac, Cointreau, honey, lemon and lemon verbena, topped with Regans’ orange bitters. Highly recommended.


     

Old-Fashioned

JOHN COLTHARP, Seven Grand

With a complete redefinition of the venerable old-fashioned that poses impeccable balance and thorough longevity, Coltharp creates his most formidable drink. The nose is complex in its purity, offering balmy lemon skin, jasmine and orange blossoms, with oscillating waves of sweet and bitter. To quote the drinksmith: “A well-made old-fashioned is the bedrock of cocktails. A bartender who doesn’t take care in building one is someone I’m buying a beer and a shot from. They’ve been made for over 200 years. Let’s give a nod to those that poured before us, and make them right.” His incarnation consists of Sazerac six-year rye whiskey—as he calls it, “Baby Saz”—a white sugar cube, Angostura bitters, soda water and lemon and orange peels. But it’s not the ingredients that make it—rather, it’s the hand of the craftsman.

Coltharp trained under Australia’s Sammy Ross—of Milk & Honey/Little Branch fame—at Comme Ça and Sona, making him an indirect descendant of New York legend Sasha Petraske. This experience, no doubt, prepared him for his true love—whiskey—and an invitation to join Cedd Moses’ Seven Grand downtown, the first serious property built for and around spirits.


     

Pisco Sour

LUCAS PAYA, The Bazaar

Barcelona native Paya’s pièce de résistance has to be his Pisco Sour, served in a cocktail glass with Pisco 100, lemon and lime juices, simple syrup, fresh egg whites and Angostura bitters. Never has a better balance been achieved with Pisco—one that puts the earthy distillate front and center, revealing its funky, herbaceous belly while drawing upon egg whites to lend body and citrus to elevate its intrinsic flavors. It is ridiculously decadent, refreshing and simply elegant.

At Bar Centro at the Bazaar in Beverly Hills’ SLS Hotel, where Paya serves as beverage director, his libation arsenal is extensive: He has enabled Angelenos to have a reason to drink Sangria again—here made with Parés Baltà cava (a type of sparkling wine), lime rounds, raspberry, verbena, gin, Cognac, Cointreau, simple syrup, orange skin and grapes. His version of the dirty martini, with Ketel One and Noilly Prat topped with an “olive brine air”—the unexpected contrast of salty foam chased by the essence of pure distillate—is brilliant. His dramatic Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha is cachaça, sugar and lime, topped with edible petals and lime zest, all nitro-whisked until it can be eaten with a spoon.


     

Frescura

PABLO MOIX, Hotel Maya

A Queens native of Colombian and Venezuelan origins, Moix takes great pleasure in educating people about cocktails, and he can make one hell of a drink, which he’s currently doing at Long Beach’s Hotel Maya. His original Frescura combines Cazadores Reposado tequila, Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal, orange and lemon juices, chamomile simple syrup and ginger, topped with ginger ale. The intrinsic flavors of the agave-based spirits, found in dank earthiness, elegant smoke and chlorophyll, are accentuated by the citrus and elevated further by the ginger-chamomile components and candied aromas. The crushed ice provides for temperature control and perpetuates the playfully unassuming nature of the cocktail. About halfway through the drink, you believe you’re drinking liquid magic.

Through preeminent roving beverage consultant Ryan Magarian, whose clients include the Huntley Hotel, Consilient Restaurant Group, the Viceroy Hotel in Miami and the Sofitel hotels, Moix learned cocktail history, recipe execution and management skills. Recently, he accepted a position with Bacardi as portfolio mixologist, enabling him to work with New World agave and cane-based spirits and continue to collaborate both with friends across the country and imbibers—connoisseurs and novices alike.

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One Response

  1. These all look like heaven in a glass. I can’t wait to try them!

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