You may not think that a world-class bar, one that’s focused on the art of mixology, would be located at the Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax. But that’s exactly where Mixology 101 is. Hidden in plain sight (it’s situated on the second level above the new Dylan’s Candy Bar and across from Zara), Mixology 101 is the brainchild of London-based “The Maestro” Salvatore Calabrese, one of the world’s leading mixologists, who has put local barman Joseph Brooke in charge.
Brooke is no slouch behind the bar. He was the winner of Season 2 of On the Rocks: The Search for America’s Top Bartender, voted 2011 Crowd Favorite in L.A.’s Best Bartender competition, and has worked locally at Copa d’Oro, The Edison and Next Door Lounge. While Brooke’s job at Mixology 101 is to perfect Calabrese’s concoctions, Brooke has staked out about 20 percent of the menu for his own creations.
Brooke said his inspiration comes from the desire to recreate memories. And he’s always cognizant of seasonal balance: if it’s hot out, then he’ll make a light drink, and if it’s cold out, he’ll go with a heartier one.
On a recent visit, Brooke made a bunch of drinks for me and my drinking companion, Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, to try. I especially liked the Maestro’s Special Fizz made with Caprinatura limoncello, lemon sorbet, fresh mint and prosecco. Brooke called it a twist on a mojito, and while there wasn’t any rum in it, I could taste the connection. It’s a fun and refreshing drink. Brooke also made us a proper White Russian, with Beluga vodka, coffee liqueur and fresh double cream. It was delicious. My favorite was the Dobbs, a simple after-dinner drink of Fernet Branca and white crème de menthe served over ice. This drink was revelatory with its herby, spicy sweetness and will now be my go-to dessert drink.
Mixology 101, which is connected to Planet Dailies (owned by the Planet Hollywood folks), is a really nice open-concept space. Unfortunately, they’ve brought in extremely loud live music to attract customers from the walkways below, so it’s tough to have a conversation there, at least on weekend nights. And because this location caters to a tourist crowd, you’ll find a random mix of people, including those who want ice-blended, fruity drinks. Fortunately for them, Brooke and his crew are willing to please. But with a sophisticated cocktail menu, there’s no need. Sidle up to Brooke’s bar and enjoy the ride.
See more photos from Mixology 101:
Note: Visits were complimentary.