Posts Tagged ‘mixology’

Lauded barman Damian Windsor brings craft cocktails to the Salon in North Hollywood

The Salon is located upstairs at The Federal Bar (5303 Lankershim Boulevard) on the north side of the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. Walk past the art school kids you’re going to park by, skip the crowd at the main bar downstairs, and tell the host you want to go up to The Salon for some honest-to-goodness handcrafted cocktails. Go through an Employees Only door, up a flight of stairs and you’ll find the entrance to The Salon, a cocktail hideaway tucked into the second floor. Opening up quietly at the end of 2016, but four years in the making, Damian Windsor (The Roger Room, Warwick) created a drink menu that’s both accessible and finely tuned with a focus on classic and craft cocktails.

Crafty cocktails

You have drinks like the Montgomery Martini, which is just a really good martini. But you also have the popular Horse’s Neck that features Lairds Applejack, ginger beer, Angostura and citrus oil. If your friends are just getting out of plastic bottles and into cocktails, chances are they’re enamoured with those mules in copper cups. The Horse’s Neck will be familiar and is the drink you’ll indoctrinate them into The Salon with. Be careful, though, because you most likely won’t be able to get away with just one round of these.

Horse's Neck cocktail at The Salon

Horse’s Neck

Maybe your friends just graduated from Jameson blackouts and now they only drink Old Fashioneds. The Fransisco San [sic] is right up their alley. Taking inspiration from Japanese whisky and San Francisco (as the name implies, despite the curious spelling), this cocktail features Suntory Whisky Toki, Punt e Mes and D.O.M. Benedictine. It’s a bright take on a whisky drink that goes down easy while still remaining respectable enough for Bill Murray to toast while wearing eyeliner.

Fransisco San cocktail at The Salon

Fransisco San


Double dazzle

Fortune Favors the Bold is ironically probably the least bold cocktail on the menu. Double Cross vodka, Carpano Antica Formula, Manzanilla sherry, Cointreau and Spanish Queen olives combine into a smooth but powerful, not delicate, taste. The vodka, vermouth, sherry and triple sec serve to heighten the Spanish Queen olives, making them more than just an accent. What this drinks holds back in adventure, it gives you in unrestrained flavor.

Fortune Favors the Bold cocktail

Fortune Favors the Bold

When you’re ready to commit to a new cocktail experience, go ahead and do yourself the favor of ordering up a Tequila Por Mi Amante. While the pickled watermelon dazzles your tastebuds, the Pueblo Viejo tequila blanco and Chamberyzette dry vermouth await your commitment. The watermelon cubes are more than a garnish; this is closer to a pairing in a glass. Salty, fruity, refreshing, boozy. This is what I started my night with, and it set the bar high. I could most likely drink more rounds of Horse’s Neck on any given night, but the Tequila Por Mi Amante was my favorite.

Tequila Por Mi Amante cocktail at The Salon

Tequila Por Mi Amante


Welcome to The Valley

The Salon has limited operating hours, generally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. until late, but it would be wise to call and check ahead as there are sometimes performances (comedy, music) in adjacent showrooms. The walls upstairs are not very soundproof, so activity in the other room would be definitely noticed. Nevertheless, The Salon is a welcome addition of handcrafted cocktails in an intimate atmosphere that you frankly don’t always find in The Valley.


03 2017

Not your typical tourist spot: Mixology 101

Joseph Brooke

Joseph Brooke making a cocktail at Mixology 101

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.

Maestro's Special Fizz

Maestro’s Special Fizz

White Russian

White Russian



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.


09 2012

New bar program and menu at AMMO

Maple Leaf Rag

Maple Leaf Rag at AMMO

AMMO, that cute restaurant that has occupied a spot on a quiet strip of Highland Avenue for 16 years, is known for its seasonal items. Now it’s offering a new mixology program and bar menu designed by mixologist Jason Robey (formerly of Michael’s in Santa Monica and New Heights in Washington, D.C.) and Chef B.J. Munoz, respectively. Don’t miss the Maple Leaf Rag cocktail made with Black Maple Hill bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup, bitters and burnt rosemary. The combination of bourbon and citrus is one of my favorites, and the addition of rosemary gives it an herby, savory kick. As for the food, try the grilled cheese sandwich with Emmental cheese and caramelized shallots on country white bread for a satisfying bite.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich at AMMO

Grilled Cheese Sandwich at AMMO

Note: This meal was hosted.

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03 2012