The most exciting time for cocktail geeks is when a new temperate season begins because it means brand new cocktail menus. Spring must be just around the corner because new menus are popping up all over town.
I was recently invited to check out the Spring cocktail menu at Naya Sunset in Silverlake. I was skeptical at first because on a previous visit to Naya, I was not too impressed with the drink list. Once I read the fine print on the invitation, I discovered that the new cocktail list was created by Joel Black (Caña, Doheny, Comma Ca). That was the only hook I needed, and the night was full of more surprises. In addition to passed Indian street food from their new lounge menu, Naya brought out a DJ, a fire-eating belly dancer, and a couple drummers for accompaniment. Naya knows how to throw a party in their beautiful Spacecraft-designed lounge.
My favorite drink of the night was the Rocky Patel. Chivas 12 Year blended Scotch whisky, smokiness from Laphroig 10 Year Islay Scotch whisky, and Zaya 12 Year old rum with a 15-minute infusion of espresso beans. Coffee beans were floated on top, giving me a pleasant surprise when I’d take a mid-conversation sip without looking.
If you are going to swing by Naya, I recommend spending some time in the lounge on Wednesdays and Sundays. Wednesday entertainment the band Stellar, Elvez Del Toro, and dance artist Push from 8-11pm. On Sundays from 8-11 pm, there are belly dancers, fire eaters, percussionists, and a DJ.
3705 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
You can always rely on Drago Centro to have an interesting new cocktail list each season thanks to talented head bartender Jaymee Mandeville. For the Spring, she crafted ten inspired new libations that will be sure to satisfy any palate.
I started the night with the Stepchild. This will satisfy someone looking for a sweet drink, without actually being too sugary. Black Grouse Blended Scotch, Cardamaro, Kumquat Cordial, Orange Juice – nice rich mouthfeel on this one.
Perhaps the best and by far the most complex drink of the night was the Night and the City. This loose riff on the Bloody Mary includes Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Bittermens Hellfire, Miracle Mile Candy Cap Mushroom Bitters, Heirloom Tomato Shrub, Black Pepper and Squid Ink Syrup, and Fresh Horseradish. The smoke and peppery flavors were memorable.
The Nebbia Rosa is a pleasant Mezcal negroni with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Campari, Bittermens Citron Sauvage, and Dolin Blanc. The bitter Campari dominates, but ends with a nice smokiness from the Mezcal. While the Night and the City is a destination cocktail to begin a night, the Nebbia Rosa is the variation on a classic what I’ll turn to when it’s time to reflect on an eventful evening.
I’m always a sucker for Fernet, and I’m trying to explore tequila more so The Airstream libation started off my second round of ordering. Pueblo Viejo Blanco Tequila, R. Jelínek Fernet, Toasted Coconut Infused Demerara, Fresh Lime, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Egg White – the creamy drink was less complex than the rest of the menu, but it’s single note did have a nice flavor.
The prettiest cocktail of the night was the Yellow Jacket Fever. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Chamomile Infused Honey, black peppercorns. This is the drink to order if you want to impress your date or business client.
Once again, Jaymee has put together another successful list to launch the new season. If I win the lottery, I’m going to hire myself a personal driver so I can go back to Drago to finish the rest of the cocktail list.
525 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Picca Launches Julian Cox’s Pisco-Centric Cocktail Menu
Just the other day I wrote, “Rivera, Playa, Short Order, Picca, Sotto – when I go to any restaurant serving Julian Cox’s cocktail creations, I don’t even bother looking at the wine or beer list. Cox’s lists are among the most reliable in the city.” For Cox fans like myself (please don’t read that out-loud), any new cocktail menu release is a cause of celebration.
Picca is a rare breed of restaurant that seemed to have gotten everything right. A lovely space, strong management, a great mixology program that was designed to fit the concept, and most importantly, an extensive menu by one of LA’s most exciting chefs that begs for frequent visits just so nothing is missed.
After trying Julian’s complete new menu, the two pisco stand-outs on the new list are the Twig & Berries (above) and an untitled cocktail that was the subject of a fierce naming competition. Twig & Berries includes pisco, blueberry coulis, creme de peche, fresh lime, wray & nephew canela tincture, and blueberry foam. Stunning.
Everyone who came for the cocktail menu launch was given an entry form and a free taster of a cocktail featuring Sloe gin, Pisco Torontel, hibiscus tea, lemon juice, evaporated cane juice, egg white, and a cherry on top. The winning entry and this delicious cocktail’s new name? “Sloe Motion Fo’ Me.” Nicely done.
9575 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Bonus Photos from Naya Cocktail Launch Party