Getting fancy with Hennessy VS summer cocktails


We were invited by Hennessy to its Essential Summer Cocktail tasting at Commissary at the Line Hotel. An early evening affair on a Wednesday in Los Angeles, the airy restaurant was the perfect setting for the tasting of three spotlighted drinks using Hennessy VS: Coca Mule, Carrot and Splash.

The Coca Mule is a take on a Moscow Mule with the interesting ingredient of Agwa de Bolivia coca leaf liqueur, rounded out by Hennessy VS cognac, lime and ginger beer. Whenever I order a mule, I hope for the fancy copper cup, so I have to confess being a little biased when I get a mule not in one. But the Coca Mule is an inviting drink, especially to come in from the sun to. Adding more than a strong hint, whether you’re partial to ginger beer will determine if this drink is for you. Also, if you’re partial to copper cups or not.

Coca mule

Coca mule. Photo by Eros David.

The Carrot was my personal favorite. No, it did not taste like carrot juice. With the striking flavor coming from the agave nectar and passion fruit, this cocktail has a smooth yet full-bodied taste. In a funny way, the consistency is somewhat reminiscent of carrot juice, but I did wonder if they meant to spell it “Carat.” Both satisfying and refreshing, it walks the line between business and casual. You can kiki about money or your love life with this one.

Carrot cocktail

Carrot cocktail. Photo by Eros David.

The Splash has more of a citrus appeal, with lemon and a flamed orange twist. The mint and creme peche add extra layers of taste experience by adding fragrance and softening the acidity, but ultimately this is a cocktail that will have you shaking the ice in your glass before you expect. This is a safe choice when deciding whether to barhop or stay put.

Splash cocktail

Splash cocktail. Photo by Eros David.

I typically drink gin cocktails in the summertime — a gin and tonic while at a BBQ watching the sun set, or even at home eating BBQ-flavored potato chips while enjoying the A/C. Just kidding, I don’t use my A/C (are you trying to run up my electric bill?!). Hennessy VS provided an alternative to my usual summer cocktail, and I was not mad. When I think of Hennessy, I think of my uncles sippin’ yac at family parties. The drinks at this tasting showed me that Hennessy didn’t always have to be Hen-dogg. These drinks were full-bodied and delicious, grown but not old-man. Sure, there were fruit accents (we are talking summer cocktails, after all), but they were far from fruity drinks. Your typical college spring breaker would not be guzzling these down while being Snapchatted by their friends in Hollister hoping to draw the attention of the guys whose boat they’re on.

Hennessy server

Instead, you’ll want to sip these drinks while conversing with good friends about your life’s current events and how they fit in your overall journey. (Not to be confused with overalls journey — I hear they’re making a comeback.) You won’t hop out of the pool wanting these drinks for a #hydrationsituation, rather you’ll be more likely dressed in your high-level summer fashion for a sophisticated discussion about how early or late you sleep, or how unwilling you are to settle down with someone. But, hey, it’s summertime. We all know cuffing season is in winter. Cheers to that!

Hennessy toast

Note: This tasting was hosted. All photos courtesy of Hennessy unless otherwise noted.


08 2015

Downtown gets a treat with Broken Spanish restaurant



Ever since Chef Ray Garcia left Fig restaurant in Santa Monica, I’ve been waiting for him to find a new home. So when news came that Garcia was taking over the old Rivera space in downtown Los Angeles to open Broken Spanish restaurant, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

While Rivera’s loss was mourned, Broken Spanish has more than filled the void with inventive food and drink. This is contemporary Mexican food turned up to 10. And Garcia’s team has opened up the space so it feels lighter and more festive. (Bonus: It’s just a few blocks from my office!)

For smaller bites, the requeson cheese accompanied by snap peas, black sesame, agave and sea beans is a light way to start before moving on to the esquites, or Mexican street corn salad. Garcia’s version uses Kewpie mayo, manzano pepper and parmesan, changing up the classic.



Keep reading


07 2015

ArcLight Culver City adds entertainment value to downtown

ArcLight Culver City

ArcLight Culver City

Out with the old, and in with the new. ArcLight Culver City has arrived.

The Pacific Theatres in downtown Culver City is now an ArcLight Cinemas movie theater, which means your night out just got a little more interesting. Complete with a full-service bar serving movie-themed cocktails and craft beer, alongside real food from a real kitchen, ArcLight Culver City is now a one-stop experience for food, drink and entertainment.

Johnny's Drama, an "Entourage"-themed cocktail

Johnny’s Drama, an “Entourage”-themed cocktail

Everything has been upgraded here, from the snack bar to the theaters themselves, which now feature ArcLight’s “black box” viewing experience for minimal distractions. As with other ArcLight theaters, seating is reserved, and you can bring your bar drink with you to screenings. Unfortunately, ArcLight Culver City doesn’t have the room for a seated dining area like ArcLight Hollywood does, but you can comfortably eat at the bar from a menu that offers tasty bar bites. The chicken wings with sweet Thai chili sauce, popcorn chicken, and tomato bruschetta with burrata are among my favorite dishes here.

Chicken wings

Chicken wings



With the opening of ArcLight Culver City, there are now two such theaters on the westside, including ArcLight Beach Cities in El Segundo, and a Santa Monica location is in the works.

Note: A menu tasting and movie viewing were hosted by ArcLight.


07 2015

Head to The Corner Door for new bites, solid drinks

Lobster and shrimp bolognese. Photo by acuna-hansen.

Lobster and shrimp bolognese. Photo by acuna-hansen.

The Corner Door, which has become a Culver City food and drink mainstay, has gone through its fair share of chefs, with varying success. The latest to helm the kitchen, Executive Chef Brendan Collins and Chef de Cuisine Ali Haji, bring a new dinner menu that has something for everyone.

Collins, who is also heading up the kitchen at Birch and previously worked at Waterloo & City, Melisse, Anisette and Palihouse, brought on Haji, who has worked with Collins for the last eight years, to create a diverse menu that reflects his upbringing in Southern California by Indian parents who were raised in Africa. Talk about the proverbial melting pot!

While not every dish I tried worked for me, many did, and others pleasantly surprised me.

Keep reading


06 2015

Broadway Bites returns to NYC—just in time for summer

Red Hook Lobster Pound's lobster roll

Red Hook Lobster Pound’s lobster roll

This post is written by ShopEatSleep contributor Deanna Ting, a New York-based writer and editor who hails from Los Angeles. She is a seasoned travel, lifestyle and fashion writer, having written for publications such as TravelAge West, Luxury Travel Advisor, Los Angeles magazine and WSAToday (a magazine that was entirely devoted to shoes). These days, you can find her working as a managing editor/senior editor for Incentive and Successful Meetings magazines, as well as scouring New York–and the globe–for her next favorite meal. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @deanna421.

One of the best things about living in New York is there’s always plenty to choose from—especially when it comes to food. Sometimes, though, all that choice can be a little overwhelming—as are a lot of different facets of life here. (Let’s not even talk about winter; I’m still in recovery.)

That’s why it’s great when outdoor food pop-up events like Broadway Bites roll back into town when the sun comes back out. Let’s be clear—there are A LOT of great choices at Broadway Bites. But what makes Broadway Bites so great is they’ve done a lot of the legwork for you by curating a carefully selected collection of some of the city’s best food and drink vendors.

If you happen to be near Herald Square and hunger pangs strike, you should definitely head here. Taking over Greeley Square, which stretches from 32nd to 34th streets on Broadway, this summer’s rendition of Broadway Bites has 28 vendors serving up plenty of satisfying, delicious things.

From no-frills grilled cheese and savory empanadas to innovative tacos and classic lobster rolls, you can find them all—and much more. Here’s a closer look at a few of those choices for whatever you might be craving.

Keep reading


06 2015

Hyatt Palm Springs offers convenience in large package

Hyatt Palm Springs

Hyatt Palm Springs

Looking for a reasonably priced getaway? Then consider Hyatt Palm Springs.

Palm Springs is just a couple hours away from Los Angeles, so it’s no wonder the desert town has become a go-to destination for young and old alike. And Hyatt Palm Springs, located in the downtown area, is convenient for exploring on foot (or bike, which can be borrowed from the hotel at no cost for guests) and is a short drive away from all the trendy hot spots in Palm Springs.

Previously branded as a Hyatt Regency Suites, the Hyatt Palm Springs recently has been remodeled and features all suite rooms, offering tons of space for your group of friends or your family.

King room with a mountain view

King room with a mountain view

Mountain view

Mountain view

When it comes to food and drink, the hotel has Share restaurant, where you can get a breakfast buffet or order off an a la carte menu, and the outdoor HooDoo Lounge for drinks in the evening.

A la carte breakfast at Share

A la carte breakfast at Share

Mother's Day breakfast buffet

Mother’s Day breakfast buffet

There’s also a pool with private cabanas and huge ottomans for laying out (my favorite part).

Hyatt Palm Springs pool

Hyatt Palm Springs pool

We recently stayed at the Hyatt Palm Springs in a King suite with a balcony. While we were sufficiently comfortable, I can’t say there’s anything special about the place other than the abundance of space. And the same goes for the food at Share; it’s satisfying but largely unremarkable. If you stay here, it’s more about the convenience of the hotel’s location and offerings (it’s also pet-friendly), which definitely has their own merits. I would definitely consider staying here again, especially if I were to visit Palm Springs with a group of friends.

Note: This stay was discounted, and meals were hosted.

Further reading:

Hyatt Palm Springs by hoopLA


06 2015

Amorino gelato packs big flavor in pretty package

Amorino gelato's flower cone

Amorino gelato’s flower cone

I love ice cream and all its variations, so when I learned about Amorino gelato and its beautifully crafted flower cones, I jumped at the chance to try it. Everything looks like it tastes better when it’s shaped like a flower, right?

Luckily, Amorino gelato lives up to appearances. Using all natural and organic ingredients, the Beverly Hills store (the only one on the West Coast) makes wonderfully smooth gelato. Texture is key to me, and Amorino’s gelato is nicely dense and elastic, just as gelato should be (American ice cream has more air and cream churned into it, so it’s fluffier and creamier than gelato, which is generally denser).

The gelato’s flavor is satisfying, too. I tried the tiramisu and chocolate, which complement each other. The tiramisu has just right amount of espresso, and the chocolate is rich.

One thing to note: I had this gelato in a take-home container, which is supposed to be consumed within two days for optimal taste. If you take the large container home, you better have a bunch of people ready to help you eat because there is A LOT of gelato in there. Then again, you could just keep it all for yourself…

Note: This tasting was complimentary.


05 2015

Take a trip to Provence with Kendall’s Brasserie

Tuna nicoise salad

Tuna nicoise salad

I’ve never given Kendall’s Brasserie much thought — I believe most people think of it only when they need a place to eat before a show at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or Disney Concert Hall — but after having a special Provencal dinner there from the very French Executive Chef Jean Pierre Bosc, I’ve come to know Kendall’s as a place to get a solid meal, no matter the occasion.

As part of the Passport to France dinner series, May is Spring in Provence month. Using Mediterranean ingredients, such as olive oil, fresh vegetables, garlic, seafood and herbs, Chef Bosc has crafted six dishes that can be ordered a la carte or in a three-course prix fixe menu.

If you’re going to choose, I’d start with the niçoise salad made with house-made albacore tuna confit, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, chopped eggs, olives and a shallot vinaigrette. I’m not usually a niçoise fan, but this version’s house-made tuna confit makes this dish special. It’s delicate yet flavorful.

For your entree, I’d go with the bouillabaisse made with rock snapper, shrimp, scallops, mussels and saffron potatoes served Provencal style with croutons and rouille, a sauce made from olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers that’s like a lighter aioli. The croutons and rouille make this seafood soup special.

Kendalls bouillabaisse


To end, choose the Nougat Glacé Maxim made with candied fruit and nuts, frozen meringue, and a raspberry coulis. It took a deft hand to make this light-as-air nougat, which had just the right amount of bite.

Kendalls nougat

Nougat Glace Maxim

The three-course prix fixe ($40) is available from 7:30 p.m. to close.

Next up in the Passport to France series at Kendall’s Brasserie is Fall in Lyon from Oct 1-31. I can’t wait to see what Bosc has up his sleeve for that meal.

Note: This meal was hosted.


05 2015

Terrine cocktail menu finds balance while packing punch

Terrine Barman Ryan Wainwright

Terrine Barman Ryan Wainwright

While foodies have been fawning over Terrine restaurant‘s Chef Kris Morningstar’s dining menu of French-meets-California cuisine (and with good reason), the Terrine cocktail menu is not to be overlooked.

Barman Ryan Wainwright, formerly of Tasting Kitchen, has an extraordinary talent for finding balance in his drinks, making each one on his menu dangerously easy to imbibe. The Terrine cocktail menu is divided into categories based on taste. Here are my picks in each group:

Bubbly & Refreshing

Prairie Fire Punch with Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon, pomegranate, Calisaya herbal liqueur and soda.

Prairie Fire

Prairie Fire Punch

It’s no secret that bourbon is my favorite spirit, so of course I’m going to recommend this one. While there isn’t any actual fire in the Prairie Fire Punch, the Calisaya lends an interesting note while the soda makes it fun.

Crisp & Clean

Beverly Fix with El Silencio mezcal, lime, pineapple, housemade orgeat and serrano tincture.

Beverly Fix

Beverly Fix

This one is everything you could ask for in a flavor-forward drink: it’s a little smoky, a little spicy and a little sweet. If you like bold, this is your cocktail.

Smooth & Elegant

Counter Point Sling with Plymouth gin, Punt e Mes vermouth and Vergano Biano vermouth.

Counter Point Sling

Counter Point Sling

This is my favorite drink from this menu, and the fact that I like it so much surprised me because gin isn’t my favorite spirit. But Wainwright created a cocktail that definitely lives up to its “smooth and elegant” categorization. There’s body, but it’s not oppressive. The Counter Point Sling is just a classy drink.

Dark & Bitter

Pimm’s Pong with Pimm’s, Contratto Bianco vermouth, Ramazzotti Amaro and chocolate bitters.

Pimm's Pong

Pimm’s Pong

Usually Pimm’s drinks are clear or light in color, but this one is dark. It’s an interesting take, with the Amaro and bitters adding dimension.

Sweet & Velvety

Strawberry Puff with Hayman’s Old Tom gin, strawberry, lemon and cream.

Strawberry Puff

Strawberry Puff

Drinking this drink is as close to having a milkshake without actually having ice cream in it. It’s rich and frothy, and will satisfy any sweet tooth without being cloying.

And the food? The entire regular menu is available at the bar, so you definitely don’t lose out by sitting here. My recommendation would be to order a charcuterie plate (three words: chicken liver mousse) and enjoy a drink or two from the Terrine cocktail menu. Go ahead, indulge.



Note: This tasting was hosted.

Further reading:

Dine on California Comfort Fare at Terrine by Where L.A.

What to Drink at Terrine, Opening Soon by Los Angeles magazine

Terrine California Gold Cocktail (Drink of the Week) by Food GPS


05 2015

Best week of the year: dineL.A. Happy Hour Week

Terrine's Pimms Pong

Terrine’s Pimms Pong

Little known fact: my favorite meal is happy hour. With discounted drinks and food, what’s not to like? So when I found out that dineL.A. is holding a Happy Hour Week April 27 through May 1, I thought it was about time!

Happy hour is a great way to check out a restaurant or bar without having to fully commit to a whole meal. It’s an especially good deal for those pricey restaurants you’ve had your eye on but haven’t pulled the trigger on yet.

The good news is dineL.A.’s Happy Hour Week includes not only restaurants with regular happy hours but also those that normally don’t have happy hour specials, such as Terrine and Redbird. That means you should definitely get the truffled chicken liver toast for $9, something you normally can’t get except as part of Terrine’s charcuterie board, and barman Ryan Wainwright’s Rosewater Sour for $9 (regularly $12) or Pimms Pong for $10 (normally $13). Even the storied Polo Lounge is getting in on the act with an entire food and drink menu priced at $10.

Before visiting, make sure to check out the hours for your intended restaurant, as some are doing traditional evening happy hours, while some are doing just late night (and some are doing both).

I’m personally looking forward to five days of drink and food specials all over Los Angeles — because cocktails and bar bites are always a good idea.

Follow dineL.A. and #happyhourweek on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest info.

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04 2015