Archive for the ‘Drinks’Category

Getting fancy with Hennessy VS summer cocktails

Hennessy

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.

04

08 2015

Downtown gets a treat with Broken Spanish restaurant

Rebanada

Rebanada

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.

Requeson

Requeson

Keep reading

27

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

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

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.

06

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

26

06 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.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

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

04

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.

23

04 2015

French with a Chinese twist: David Feau’s Coin de Rue 13eme pop up

Raw shaved carrot salad

Raw shaved carrot salad

Chef David Feau (Patina, The Royce, Le Ka)’s Coin de Rue pop-up restaurant has made its way to Chinatown and has an Asian-inspired menu to match. Now dubbed Coin de Rue 13eme, after Paris’ predominately Chinese 13th arrondissement, Feau is serving a French-Chinese menu at Michael J’s Pizzeria & Bar after his stint serving classic French bistro dishes in the old Red Medicine space.

The three-course dinner menu, with optional supplements, is small but varied. If you want to go with lighter fare, start with the tempura asparagus with truffle honey and sea salt or the raw shaved carrot salad. Then move on to the clay pot-baked Alaskan halibut with mushrooms.

Clay pot halibut

Clay pot halibut

If you want a more flavorful experience, start with the soft scrambled eggs with cabbage, sea urchin and crab bisque (this dish reminds me of the Chinese scrambled egg with shrimp and scallions). For your main, choose the chicken oyster and scallops with leeks, fava beans and poached egg.

Sea urchin scrambled eggs

Sea urchin scrambled eggs

Chicken oysters and scallops

Chicken oysters and scallops

For dessert, go with the brown butter caramel ice cream and pretzel crumble. It’s more salty than sweet, allowing your taste buds to end on a clean note.

Brown butter caramel ice cream

Brown butter caramel ice cream

As for supplements, Feau offered two this past weekend: a spring roll with seared foie gras, forbidden rice, lettuce, toasted shallots and duck sauce, as well as pan-roasted frog legs with parsley root juice, bone marrow and spring garlic. Neither dish is overpowering but both are interesting, so getting either one would make a nice complement.

Seared foie gras roll

Seared foie gras roll

Pan-roasted frog legs

Pan-roasted frog legs

Coin de Rue 13eme is taking place again this weekend and next, April 23-25 and April 30-May 1. The prix fixe menu is $49 for three courses, with supplemental entrees for an additional $18 each. Wine pairings are available for an additional $20. First seatings start at 7 p.m., and last seatings start at 10:30 p.m.

But wait, there’s more. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each night of the pop up, enjoy special bar bites ($10-$12) from Feau and a cocktail menu ($12-$15) from mixologist Garrett McKechnie (The Raymond, 1886). The peppercorn croquembouche with chicken liver and foie gras mousse is my personal favorite, with the rabbit rillette on country toast served with peach mustard another good choice. When it comes to cocktails, go with the light and sweet Countryside, a combination of Calvados apple brandy, honey, kumquat and tarragon, or the dark and bitter An American in Paris, with rye, byrrh, amargo Angostura bitters and a cherry.

Peppercorn croquembouche

Peppercorn croquembouche

Rabbit rillette

Rabbit rillette

Countryside

Countryside

An American in Paris

An American in Paris

Coin de Rue 13eme at Michael J’s Pizzeria & Bar
643 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Reservations 213.604.3421

Note: This meal was hosted. 

Further reading:

David Feau’s Coin de Rue Pop-Up Goes to Chinatown by Eater L.A.

David Feau’s Coin de Rue French bistro pop-up heads to Chinatown by Los Angeles Times

Coin de Rue Pop-Up by kevinEats

20

04 2015

Travelogue: MilkWood restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky

Toy Tiger cocktail at MilkWood restaurant

Toy Tiger cocktail at MilkWood restaurant

When I saw Chef Edward Lee on “Top Chef: Texas” cut his hand, pull on a glove and keep cooking while the blood pooled in it, I thought, now that’s a badass. So when I last visited my husband’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, I knew I had to see if Lee’s food tasted as powerful as he cooked on the show. So of course I had dinner at MilkWood restaurant.

Lee’s MilkWood restaurant, located on the lower level of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, recently celebrated its second anniversary. I visited last spring, and the menu, a melange of Southern and Asian influences with some classic French thrown in for good measure, has helped to elevate the local restaurant scene, which has lately experienced a boom in artisanal cuisine.

A Brooklyn native of Korean descent, Lee also owns 610 Magnolia, an upscale contemporary Southern restaurant. Together with Chef Kevin Ashworth, Lee has taken his more refined tastes found at 610 Magnolia and punched them up with bolder flavors at MilkWood.

The pork burger on a pretzel bun, with napa kimchi, cracklins, havarti cheese, remoulade and cilantro, is just an example — rich and flavorful.

MilkWood pork burger

MilkWood pork burger

The seasonal fish and pork dishes I tried, as well as a spicy preparation of sunchokes, were also bold in flavor. MilkWood is not a place for the faint of heart.

MilkWood sunchokes

MilkWood sunchokes

The cocktail menu is equally forward. The Toy Tiger, with Old Forrester bourbon, vermouth and bitter orange, is a potent take on the traditional Manhattan — just how I like my drinks.

I look forward to going back to MilkWood restaurant, this time for the bowls of ramen. The one featuring pork belly and country ham follows Lee’s lead, but the Mazeman Ramen with egg yolk, parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, pancetta and uni butter is the one that intrigues me more. I hope Lee keeps doing what he’s doing.

Further reading:

Fork in the Road: A Top Chef’s Next Course by Garden & Gun

29

03 2015

Eat well at Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge happy hour

Spaghettini Fish & Chips. Photo by Eric Hameister.

Spaghettini Fish & Chips. Photo by Eric Hameister.

You don’t always have to spend a pretty penny when dining out in Beverly Hills. Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge — yes, jazz musician Dave Koz — offers not only dinner and a show, but it also has a generous happy hour.

Every Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Spaghettini’s Social Hour offers special food items, regular menu items at a discounted price and a rotating drink menu.

Bar Manager Lauren Trickett highlights a different spirit each week in two classic cocktails, in addition to a selection of wines, sparkling wines and craft beers on tap — all for $8 each.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

When it comes to food, Executive Chef Scott Howard designed a happy hour menu that includes Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge favorites Pommery Shrimp with Pommery mustard, citrus and mache ($15, regular price $24) and the rich Smoked Gouda Orzo Mac & Cheese ($8, regular price $10), as well as Social Hour-specific items such as the Spaghettini Burger with aged white cheddar, onion jam and arugula ($15) and Fish & Chips with tartar sauce and malt vinegar aioli ($12) — one of my personal favorites.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge Orzo gouda mac and cheese

Smoked Gouda Orzo Mac & Cheese

And if you grab a seat at the bar, you don’t have to pay for the entertainment cover charge to enjoy the live music. Another perk of being frugal.

Note: This visit was hosted.

Further reading:

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge by eaterLA

An evening at Spaghettini Beverly Hills by Los Angeles Times

22

03 2015

Treat yo self: Quality food and drink at good prices

Asa Meza ceviche

Asa Meza ceviche. From Asa Meza.

If you’re like me, you want to enjoy the finer things in life, but you can’t always afford it. That’s when knowing where to score some reasonably priced eats (sometimes free!) at some of Los Angeles’ up-and-coming restaurants and bars comes in handy.

Two new deals from Asa Meza and Now Boarding should whet your appetite.

On Thursday, March 19, Latin- and Asian-inspired restaurant Asa Meza is hosting a Hollywood Social Night from 6 to 10 p.m. Go to check out the menu, craft cocktails and beers while also enjoying complimentary appetizers.

Asa Meza
1718 Vine St.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Blackjack Smash at Now Boarding.

Blackjack Smash at Now Boarding. From Now Boarding.

At Now Boarding, a travel-inspired bar in West Hollywood, Sunday nights are now “You Don’t Know Jack” nights. Starting at 9 p.m., enjoy free live music from funk, soul and R&B bands, as well as happy hour-priced $9 specialty Jack Daniels cocktails. Considering these kinds of cocktails are usually $14, this is a bargain.

Cocktails include:

~Tiny Dancer with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, passion fruit and prosecco
~Blackjack Smash with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, blackberries and mint
~Jackalope with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, pineapple, coconut and Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur
~Elda Fitzgerald with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, orange, lemon, sugar and egg white

Now Boarding
7746 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046

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15

03 2015