News Flash – Greenbar Distillery

Greenbar Distillery

This past weekend, the PiC and I took a tour of Downtown LA’s Greenbar Distillery. Prior to the visit, I had known that they existed, but didn’t know how old they were (I thought it was just a couple of years, but actually they started in 2004), and also that they were responsible for a number of different brands of spirits which I had seen, but not tasted.

The tour was about an hour long, and our guides took us through the history of the company, the equipment they used (including the pictured super fancy still which had an even fancier name that I don’t remember now), and their general outlook on life. We also got to try tiny samples of what amounted to nine different spirits, plus five types of bitters. As I wasn’t taking notes, this will be mostly a visual post.

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News Flash – Otium

Recently we made a visit to Otium in downtown LA, a chic contemporary restaurant in downtown LA. The food will be discussed on the Partner In Crime’s blog, but the drinks, of course, are here.

Milk Punch

Milk Punch – Bourbon, Rum, Masala Chai, Allspice Dram

Continue reading “News Flash – Otium”

The Craft Cocktail Movement – Op-Ed

A week or two ago, an article from Thrillist popped into my inbox, and I gave it a read. “The Crappy Craft Cocktail Revolution is Upon Us.

The author, Dan Dunn, is basically saying that a lot of places say they have craft cocktails but really they’re just pretending, they’re making them not well and only to make money. While this is probably true of some bars, I think it’s a gross generalization, and that he’s coming at it from a really odd angle. Honestly, it basically seems like he’s saying that the younger generation (millennials, us) doesn’t deserve to make cocktails, because they weren’t around when the cocktail revolution happened in the 80s.

He goes on two main tangents in the article, one about punk music selling out which is… whatever, and the other one which I think is bullshit. He complains that his bartender has sleeve tattoos but “[t]here was no way in his short time on the earth that he could have come by those babies honestly.” What the hell does that mean? You have no idea what this guy’s story is, what his reasons for getting the tattoos are, what he’s been through. Which is almost besides the point but it isn’t — his whole stance on the cocktail movement is that the new bartenders, the new mixologists can’t possibly have had the experience they need to really be bartenders. Which, again, is bullshit.

We make drinks because it’s fun, because it’s interesting, and it’s a way to experiment and show off new ideas. We’re not doing it just to make money, but we equally can’t very well do it without making money. He’s very hung up on selling out and being indebted to The Man, and I’m pretty sure that’s just called having a job.

He also seems very incensed by the fact that this particular Last Word, a cocktail that I’ve never had but seems kind of interesting, had too much green chartreuse. What’s the big deal? Sometimes people don’t make cocktails super well. You can’t expect every bartender in the city, even every bartender in an establishment to be at the top of their game. Some bartenders don’t know certain drinks. I was at Patina once, a classy Los Angeles spot, and they couldn’t make me a Vieux Carré, my favorite drink, because they didn’t know what it was. Did I make a fuss? No. It’s natural to not know everything, however much you might want someone to.

We also need to be taught. It’s not always said, but let’s face it. I’m here learning tricks from Jerry Thomas. If I worked at a bar, I’d expect to learn a thing or two from the older bartenders, find out about some new drinks, and so on. But what does Dan Dunn do when his drink isn’t made correctly? He says nothing about it, and instead makes some asinine joke about a drink that involves punching the bartender in the head. It might just be a literary device, rather than what happened, but either way that’s not how you get a good Last Word. Tell us what we’re doing wrong, and maybe we’ll make it right.

Finally, I just looked at his other articles on Thrillist. He only has two, this one lamenting the loss of the “true” craft cocktail movement, and another lamenting the loss of the cool culture in Abbot Kinney, stating that “Venice is dying.” It must be a sad life to be Dan Dunn.

I’m not saying it’s all him. I’ve definitely seen some overpriced “craft” cocktails before, Moscow Mules being toted as awesome new inventions, and the like. And I’ll probably still take those over an equally crappy rum and coke. But for Dunn to just scoff and reminisce about the good old days instead of doing something about it, that doesn’t help us. We want to learn, we want to make great drinks, and we try every day to do so. Don’t knock us down just because we don’t fit with your ideal of the classic bartender.

The Silverlake Craft Beer & Cocktail Expo – Boozy Newsie News Flash

On a rainy day back in April, I visited a new event held in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, showcasing local bars, restaurants, and breweries, and what they had to offer in the line of food and drink. This had a pretty awesome lineup, and I both ate and drank too much… What better way to relive those memories than to tell you about it!

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The host of the event, the 4100 Bar, had two house cocktails. On the left, the gin-based one, with TRU organic gin, cucumber, basil, lemon, and sugar. On the right (I got a little carried away drinking it before we took the picture), the scotch-based cocktail – scotch, agave, ginger, lemon, topped with Island single malt (I believe it was Oban but I don’t quite remember). Both of these were good, although the gin one pretty much just tasted like lemonade, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Next, we braved the outside tents in the surprisingly powerful rainstorm.

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The Thirsty Crow offered up a classic Old Fashioned, nicely mixed and not too sweet, including a real Maraschino cherry and juice (not the bright red stuff) and a ton of bitters, just the way I like it.

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Next stop was Angel City Brewery, where we “sampled” (full glasses) their IPA and West Coast Wheat. Angel City tends to be a little hoppy for me — I know, I know, I should appreciate the bitterness, but I don’t — but I imagine if you like that sort of thing you’d be happy with these.

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The Black Cat was churning out these nicely spicy cocktails — Ancho Reyes ancho chili flavored mescal, Lillet, grapefruit, lime, and a pinch of salt on top. Depending on the sip, the salt was a little strong but the flavors were great.

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Malo had not only some delicious cocktails (we didn’t have three, I swear) but also amazing, seemingly deep-fried tacos and chips. The cocktails had Mexican Squirt soda, simple syrup, lime, grapefruit juice, tequila, and a pinch of chili salt, and were called “The Paloma.” Yay for names! I blacked out from how good the tacos were so I don’t remember what was in them, specifically.

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We also got far too much to drink from Golden Road, a brewery I love. The 329 was an easy-drinking, not too flavorful lager, and the IPA was, well, an IPA. Sorry I can’t be more specific about that, but so it goes.

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Doubling up at this point, Akbar had a Moscow Mule (left) that included the surprising addition of Chinese bitters, which apparently just tastes like anise. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not, which is usually the case with anise-flavored liqueurs. Mohawk Bend, my favorite restaurant of all time, had essentially a vodka lemonade with California poppy bitters. I was sad that you couldn’t taste the bitters very much, as it sounded like a cool touch.

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After all the alcohol, we needed a break — and Garage Pizza delivered. I know this is a drink blog, but this pizza was great, so you should go there. Perfect balance of grease and cheese.

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The Virgil was giving out “The Caravan,” with rye, lemon, ginger, honey syrup, and angostura bitters on top. Nicely sweet and easy to drink.

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A very similar-looking drink was made by Barbarella, with Makers 46, chipotle honey syrup, lemon syrup. Nicely spiced and the lemon cut the honey well.

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Charcoal BBQ gave out some delicious pork ribs, pickled cauliflower and normal pickles. We went back later in the day and told the chef we really liked the pickles and he dumped out literally the entire container (at least a quart) onto a plate for us. This was slightly excessive, but we still ate it.

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The last drink of the day came from El Condor, which gave out a perfectly normal but perfectly good margarita. Sampled this with some good old Mexican coke (or cola, in this case).

And then for the sad part of story. Apparently there was a pizza-eating contest at this event but SOMEONE (who will remain nameless) did not inform me of this fact until it was too late and it had already begun. Now how will I claim my pizza eating crown? I suppose I wouldn’t be able to compete with at least the beard of the winner (last picture) so it’s okay.IMG_4579 IMG_4600 IMG_4616