There’s nothing simpler or more crowd-pleasing than mixing up a pitcher of sangria for a party. And most of the prep can be done in advance. With this recipe from Strip House at Westminster Hotel, use your favorite white wine and any variety of fruit you like (or have on hand!). Let it chill until party time; top off with a splash of club soda before serving.
Courtesy of Jono Moratis, Food & Beverage Director, Strip House at Westminster Hotel in Livingston, NJ
A few weeks ago I teased Beacon readers about the new Scotch tasting club membership that I purchased for my husband, Eddie, for his birthday from ForScotchLovers.com. Well, five wax-sealed sample bottles arrived, along with the proper nosing glass, and we were off!
Our first allocation, as there would be several more in the upcoming year, also included an instruction sheet on how to “play the Whisky game”. So, first we followed this link:
http://www.forscotchlovers.com/distillery_row/whisky_explorers_club/my_whiskey_Iq_game, then I typed in a code to get started, and chose one of the uniquely numbered and labeled bottles below:
WESE 11A9 – Single malt, Scotland (tasted for this report)
WESE 11C6 – Single malt, Scotland
WESE 11Q6 – Grain whisky, Scotland
WESE 11V4 – Blended whisky, Scotland (tasted for this report)
There was also an extra bottle tucked into the center of the box, identified as Master of Malt Tyrconnell 10 year old, port finish, Single malt whisky, Ireland. But we haven’t had that one yet.
Once I removed the seal on one bottle I read these instructions:
Welcome to the The Whisky Explorers “My Whisk(e)y IQ” Home Page. When you’re ready to test your Whisk(e)y IQ, please make sure you have a glass of the whisky you received, and enter the code found on the label on the black bag…
I learned that depending on how well I scored I would be categorized under one of the following: Tasting IQ, People’s Choice IQ, Business IQ, Brand IQ, Bonus Booster IQ, Zen Master IQ
Next I took a short survey so that they know more about me that asked: Gender, age and how often you drink Scotch/Malt Whisky, Bourbon, Irish Whisky, Rye, Rum, Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Wine, Beer, Brandy/Cognac.
Then came simple multiple-choice questions, just like we use to evaluate wine, regarding aroma, body and taste. All of the descriptors were spelled out to guide you, points were given for right answers and points subtracted for wrong ones. Then, finally, we were guessing the retail price and, exactly which Scotch we thought we were drinking!
I added a little bit of water to the tasting glass, as that is the way to bring forward aroma and taste, and happily sipped away. I stared at those descriptors until I thought I had them as right as I could, and then clicked off my choices.
(In case you’re wondering, Eddie had given up at this point and just enjoyed his scotch.)
I was a wee bit concerned as to how I’d do because though I enjoy single malt at least once a week, and have had at least three guided tastings, I am a scotch 101er.
At the end of the quiz, I was asked to give a single comment – that would guarantee me more points so I wrote:
“It’s my first time, I hate blind tastings and games, but the Scotch was soooooo good I was willing to ‘play’ with you guys!”
Come to find out, OMG, we did guess the correct scotch – Eddie claims that he did – it was:
|PEOPLE’S CHOICE IQ:||7|
|BUSINESS IQ: (we got the price right!)||12|
|BRAND IQ: (we got the scotch right!)||20|
|BONUS BOOSTER IQ:||5|
|ZEN MASTER IQ:||51|
With the total number of points available being 105…Ed said that even though we got a couple of things right, we still got a D with only 51 points!
I tried the game a second time with the one blended whisky in my box – and I never drink blended whiskey unless in a cocktail – our score was even worse. It turned out to be Suntory’s Hibiki Japanese, 12 year old. I only did well on the business IQ, which is in regards to price, nose, palate and finish.
OMG guess I need to drink MORE.
We recently enjoyed a “grand tasting showcasing the Wine and Spirits of over 300 producers from around the world”, at The Beverly Hills Hotel and hosted by The Henry Wine Group, a “Fine Wine and Spirits distributor serving California since 1985.”
In this event, just as we’ve done in the past, I covered the spirits’ portfolio while my business partner, Michael Perlis, did his best to cover probably four or five times as much in the wine section.
The Distilled Beverages
Of note for me in the whiskey category was Kinahan’s blended and 10 year-old single malt Irish whiskies, Edradour 10 year old single malt whiskey, Signatory single malt bottlings of Clynelish 17 year old (my personal new favorite), Highland Park aged 16 years and Bruichladdich 22 year old.
I discovered Northern California’s Charbay’s Ruby Red Grapefruit, true-to-taste Meyer Lemon and Green Tea flavored vodkas, a Tahitian vanilla rum, the “Nostalgie” Black Walnut liqueur as well as two interesting hop-flavored whiskies.
Bainbridge stole the show with their organic wheat vodka, organic wheat whiskey and organic wheat gin. And the real surprise in the flavor category for me was taking that already-killer vodka and infusing it with real vanilla bean. Would be perfect over ice alone in my opinion.
Under “other” I liked the Blackwoods Small Batch Gin; three Amaros: Meletti, Montenegro and Monte san Costanzo; the subtle differences between Meletti’s Anisette and Sambuca; getting a broad education on tequila, rustico, anejo and reposado from the Haas Brothers over some really smooth Don Amado; rums from Panama-Pacific; revisiting Clear Creek Distillery goodies and finding my fave Douglas Fir Brandy dialed down a notch – in a good way.
Genever stole my heart from Diep 9, both the “young” and “old” versions. Like gin kicked up a notch, if that can be done, this spirit is distilled from grain with herbs, the older version with the addition of French oak barrel aging. The Smooth Ambler Greenbriar gin was great as well.
Most of what I enjoyed can be seen in this short YouTube slide show.
SPIRIT LIST AT PRESS TIME
Alvear / Avuá Cachaça / Bodegas Baron / Caribbean Spirits Inc. / Charbay Distillery & Winery / Clear Creek Distillery / Craft + Estate / Domaine Select Wine & Spirits / Elixir / Flemish Lion / Haas Brothers / Imbue / Indigenous Selections / Meletti (Opici) / Montanero Mezcal / Siebra Spirits / Smooth Ambler Spirits / Total Beverage Solution / Vias Imports Ltd.
WINE LIST AT PRESS TIME (Look to Michael Perlis’ coverage on the wine portion of this event.)
Acre Wines / Adelshem Vineyard / Amavi Cellars / Ancient Peaks Winery / Andis Wines / Andrew Murray Vineyards / Banville Wine Merchants / Bespoke Collection / Blue Rock Vineyard / Bodegas Arzuaga / Bodegas Borsao / Bonded Winery No. 9 / Cain Vineyard & Winery / Calera / Claiborne & Churchill / Clos Bellane / Clos LaChance / Coravin / Craft + Estate / Curious Cork Imports / Dark Star Imports / Dashe Cellars / District 3 / Domaine Select Wine & Spirits / Dutton Estate / Elizabeth Spencer Wines / Eighty Four Wines / Fabio Viviani Wines / Fine Estates from Spain / Hand Picked Selections / Head High Wines / Henriot, Inc. / Heron Wines / Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery / Indigenous Selections / Joullian Vineyards / Laely Wine / Lafond Winery / Left Coast Cellars / Lola Kay / Long Meadow Ranch Winery / Lumen Wines / Luna Vineyards / Lynmar Estate / MacRostie Winery and Vineyards / Madness and Cures / Martian Ranch & Vineyards / Medlock Ames / Mettler Family Vineyards / Michael Pozzan Winery / Milbrandt Vineyards / Mindego Ridge / Negociants USA / Nuclear Wine Company / Pali Wine Company / Paolo Scavino / Pepper Bridge / Quinta Vale d. Maria / Red Car Wine Company / Riverbench Vineyard and Winery / Round Pond Estate / Rubissow / San Francisco Wine Exchange / San Lorenzo Winery / Santa Barbara Winery / Saucelito Canyon / Selby Winery / Shafer Vineyards / Sinor-LaVallee / Small Vines / Staete Landt Wine Co. / Stemmler Winery / Stewart Cellars / Taft Street Winery / Thomas Fogarty Wines / Three Sticks Winery / Tierra Divina Vineyards / Titus Vineyards / Vias Imports Ltd. / Vintage Wine Estates / Volker Eisele Family Estate / Warner Henry Offerings / White Hart / Winesellers, Ltd. / ZD Wines
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com
Recipe from TT Drinks Editor Jim Meehan
Yield: 1 cocktail
¾ ounce Laird’s Apple Brandy
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce raw honey syrup (1 part water to 1 part honey, boiled until the honey dissolves)
2½ ounces Bérèche et Fils Les Beaux Regards Champagne
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
1. Shake the first three ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled coupe.
2. Top with the Champagne, garnish with nutmeg and serve.
We’ve been working on a designated tasting area so that you can view the still and taste the spirits while you are visiting our Westside Vineyards. We should have the new area completed and open for tasting early 2016. We’ll begin pouring Saturdays from 12-4pm and by appointment during the week. Tastings will be $10 and include our latest spirit offerings and an Opolo etched liquor glass.
- Opolo 2014 Pinot Gris bottle
- 1 piece star anise
- Two 1/4 inch thick slices fresh ginger
- 3 green cardomom pods
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 to 4 tablespoons honey, or to taste
- 1/4 cup Opolo Willams Pear Brandy
- 4 slices Asian pear
Pour wine in medium heavy saucepan with the star anise, ginger, caramom, cloves, and honey (start with 3 tablespoons and adjust later if necessary). Set the pan over medium heat and bring just to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the wine mull for at least 15 minutes. Taste and add more honey if you like. Gently reheat the wine until it starts to steam, then turn off the heat and stir in the brandy. Divide among 4 mugs or heatproof glasses, putting a few of the whole spices in each mug. Garnish with a slice of Asian Pear and enjoy!
- 1 1/2 ounces Opolo Grappa
- 1/2 ounce Aperol
- 1/2 ounces peach puree or nectar
- 2 ounces chilled Opolo Sparkling
- 1 peach slice, for garnish (optional)
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Opolo Grappa, Aperol and peach puree and shake well. Strain into a chilled glass, top with Opolo Sparkling and garnish with the peach. Cheers!
On March 6 I interviewed Chef Tamra Levine about her inspired interpretation of Chilean fare for a wine pairing dinner at Salt Creek Grille. A month later, and I’m still ranting about it. But the difference is that I’ve now had the dinner.
You may have remembered last Thursday. The winds whipped up to try and keep us all nestled indoors. But, at exactly 6:15, after I had whipped my own coif up into a tightly fastened “do”, it all calmed down.
I had to imagine that the same thing might be happening in the kitchens at Salt Creek Grille. Along with their regular Thursday night bustle, they made an impressive inaugural debut in their catering department. And not any of the items were off of the menu; it was all created just for us.
Introduction: Chile 101
Whisked into the tightly tented outdoor bar unlike no other, guests were greeted with full flutes of sparkling wine – not on our printed menu.
From there we were seated, and like any classy event, were assigned to tables with people of like tastes. I was thrilled to find myself placed with Lil Lepore and Shari Fraizer, owners of Vino 100 Valencia. We enjoyed some fun “shop talk.”
Within minutes Greg Amsler, in between meetings for his man-of-the year nomination, welcomed us and introduced Tamra, who in turn, thanked us for attending the first of several regional wine pairing meals she had planned. I wanted her to tell the crowd that she is the only caterer and near sommelier in our valley equipped to create the meals and choose the wines for them, but being far more modest than I am, she instead introduced Alex Guarchi, president of TGIC Importers to talk to the crowd.
“I want to thank you all for taking the time to come to a dinner, during this recession. Taking the time for wine – if we don’t do that – there is something wrong with that picture.”
“Taste is very subjective I believe. You have to be open to the wine and food and let them speak for themselves. You will have light wines with the lighter food and then be introduced to bigger wines.”
“You’ve undoubtedly heard several do’s and don’ts with wine. Who here knows which fish is okay to have with a Pinot Noir?” To which Lil Lepore confidently answered, “Salmon!”
The Courses Begin
While Alex spoke, our first course arrived: Empanada de Camerone Humitas, Calabaza, Corn and Coconut soup with Pisco Sours. Pisco is a brandy made of Muscatel grapes in Chile and Peru; no one knows who created it first. The bar staff mixed it with egg whites, lime and sugar. The egg whites coated my tongue in a sugary glaze – the perfect aperitif to the soup and empanada.
Next came pan seared Chilean Sea Bass Moho paired with a low French oaked 2007 Santa Ema Reserve Chardonnay. Guests commented that the delicate fish balanced well with the wine.
Merken dusted Pheasant Breast Medallions stuffed with Chilean mushrooms made me wonder where you could get pheasant in SCV. Served over a bed of Chorizo laced Quinoa Risotto, I was surprised to learn from Tamra that the quinoa was an ancient grain and actually the seed of a plant. Paired with 2007 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir aged 12 months in French Oak, my palate was experiencing heaven.
Then, if that wasn’t enough, on came the Adobo Marinated Flank Steak with Chilean salsa, Potato and Onion Timbale and a 2005 Santa Ema Catalina. I was left to try and choose which of the reds I enjoyed more…and couldn’t do it.
Sneaking back to the kitchens to see the more-than-competent staff create the dessert, I shot some fun photos and then raced back as not to miss a bite. I did note that there was a friendly feel among them and I was happy to see that a meal this noteworthy could be managed so pleasantly.
My Dulce de Leche Ice Cream with raspberries, apricots and a to-die-for perfectly warmed Caramel Shot was accompanied by a 2008 Montes late harvest Gewurztraminer. I don’t usually eat desserts. I don’t usually enjoy late harvest wines. But, then again, I’d never had Chilean food in my life. It was not a night for usual tastes; it was one that was as Alex Guarchi had suggested, “Be open to the wine and food – and let them speak for themselves.”
From several LA-based bars and restauurants!
Created by Ken Whang
Dare to sip the Witch’s Brew! This vibrant red potion concocted by Bar Manager Ken Whang is a mouthwatering mixture of Absolut Peach Vodka, Svedka Citron Vodka, OR-G Liqueur and a dry ice finish that is sure to put a spell on you this Halloween.
Alley Lounge will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am; 12223 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90066; 310.398.8611; www.alleyloungela.com
Created by Garrett McKechnie
A terrifyingly tasty Tiki libation, the Rudi’s Downfall is an icy frozen treat blended with Flor de Caña 4 yr and 7 yr Rum, honey syrup, fresh pineapple juice and lime juice served in a scary-faced tiki mug.
Bar Mattachine will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am; 221 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014; 213.278.0471; Facebook.com/BarMattachine
Dark & Stormy
Created by Ken Whang
A fitting libation for a frightful Halloween evening, try the Dark & Stormy cocktail shaken up with dark rum, lime juice, lychee juice and ginger beer poured over ice and garnished with floating lychee nuts stuffed with bright red cherries that resemble a pair of eerie eyeballs.
FIN will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm; 12223 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90066; 310.398.8611; www.finculvercity.com
Spiced Chocolate Chip ‘N Fig Republic Stout Beer Float
Created by Michael “Mick” Schepers
This Halloween, avoid the tricks and indulge in boo-zy treats! Sip on the Spiced Chocolate Chip ‘N’ Fig Bear Republic Stout Float crafted with velvety spiced chocolate chip and fig frozen custard and Bear Republic Black Stout served in a glass goblet with a spoon-straw to savor sips and spoonfuls of this tasty indulgence. Available and prepared in celebration of HACHÉ LA’s one-year anniversary!
HACHÉ LA will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 12:00 pm to 12:00 Midnight; 3319 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026; 323.928.2963; www.hachela.com
Created by Brian Klemm
Built from “all things basic,” the La Básica cocktail is anything but basic. Crafted with El Silencio Mezcal, chocolate, coffee, vanilla ice cream and a dash of pumpkin spice, this creamy cocktail is a brilliantly balanced beverage you are bound to enjoy this Hallow’s Eve.
Magnolia House will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 10:00 am to 2:00 am; 492 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101; 626.584.1121; www.themaghouse.com
Rooftop Film Club:
The Thing On The Rocks, Created by Brady Weise
Make it a movie night this Halloween season and head to the iconic rooftop of The Montalbãn in Hollywood for a scary screening of the cult classic The Thing (Tuesday, October 27th). Pair the eerie evening with The Thing on the Rocks cocktail mixed up with Modern Times Stout and sparkling wine created by onsite guest Barman Brady Weise.
Bates Cough Syrup, Created by Brady Weise
Suppress those screams while watching Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Psycho on Thursday, October 29th with the Bates Cough Syrup mixed up with Hefeweizen beer and fresh blueberry syrup.
The Hockey Mask
Created by Brady Weise
Take in Friday the 13th at Rooftop Film Club during Halloween Week (Tuesday, October 27th through Saturday, October 31st) and sip on The Hockey Mask (Friday, October 31st, 2015). This sinful sipper is a mixture of Chenin Blanc, lemonade, dry vermouth and fresh seasonal fruit.
Rooftop Film Club will be hosting Halloween Week on the rooftop of The Montalbãn from Tuesday, October 27th to Saturday, October 31st; 1615 Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. For more information or to book tickets directly, please visit www.la.rooftopfilmclub.com.
The Raymond 1886:
Created by Peter Lloyd Jones
Crafted with applejack, house-made pumpkin syrup, allspice dram, cinnamon, fresh lemon juice and garnished with spookily sensational cobweb candy, the Hob Goblet is a devilishly delicious cocktail to sip on this Halloween.
The Raymond 1886 will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st for Brunch from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm, Lunch from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and Dinner from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm; 1886 Bar will be open from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am; 1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105; 626.441.3136; www.theraymond.com
Tipple & Brine:
Created by A.J. Korchak
A ghoulish gulper from Bar Manager A.J. Korchak, the Danse Macabre cocktail is a crafty sipper composed of Laird’s Apple Brandy, Ballast Point Devil’s Share Moonshine, Giffard Apricot Brandy, honey and aged pumpkin bitters dusted with freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon, topped off with an orange peel and cinnamon stick garnish.
Tipple & Brine will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 5:00 pm to 12:00 Midnight; 14633 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403; 818.528.2550; www.tippleandbrine.com
Created by Victoria “Ninja” Ortiz
A spellbinding sipper that is enchanting in color and flavor, the Polyjuice Potion from Bar Manager Victoria “Ninja” Ortiz is shaken up with absinthe, gin, Crème de Violette, lemon and pineapple syrup, served in a coupe with a lemon peel garnish.
Access to Tunnel Bar is granted through Tipple & Brine; Tunnel Bar will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 7:00 pm to 2:00 am; 14633 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403; 818.528.3434; www.tunnelbarla.com
Created by Anthony Settecase
A murderous masterpiece that is perfect for pairing with a balmy beachside on Halloween weekend, the Tequila Mockingbird cocktail from Bar Director Anthony Settecase is handcrafted with Sauza Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila, agave, blood orange bitters and grapefruit.
The Venice Whaler will be open for Halloween, Saturday, October 31st from 11:00 am to 2:00 am; 10 West Washington Boulevard, Venice, CA 90292; 310.821.8737; www.venicewhaler.com
Opolo Vineyards donated two different spirits to the recent Cocktails on the Roof non-profit event I co-hosted. They were very generous in sending a total of 3 cases for our 400-person event…and since they sent the cases to me…I asked if I could pilfer a couple of the bottles to drink…err taste…and they said yes. Truth be told even more, I had tasted their grappa during a recent visit with distiller Paul Quinn but the other spirit I received for our event, the pear brandy, was still being made.
Williams Pear Brandy
Eau-de-Vie “Water of Life”
42.5% alcohol (85 proof)
Excerpt from back label: “…The aroma and flavor of the brandy should feel exactly like biting into a ripe Bartlett pear. Serve chilled or neat.
Aroma: Yes, I do get fresh cut pears, then a bit of hazelnut, almond, yogurt, vanilla, juniper, lime, mown grass, suede…my imagination ran the full gamut of memories this one called up.
Flavor: Lots of pears in light pear syrup, banana, rye toast, unsalted butter, viscous and a pleasant burn that ends in a nice round finish. (Note: I often use brandies, liqueurs and even flavored vodkas instead of vermouth in a vodka martini. The whisper of a flavored spirit can enhance your vodka, and not make it cloyingly sweet like say a Cosmopolitan or Lemon Drop Martini. This Opolo Pear Brandy would lend itself well to that approach.) 96 Eve pts.
42.5% alcohol (85 proof)
Excerpt from back label: “…in Italy (grappa is made) to reduce wasted pomace from wine making. (It) should be served chilled, neat or enjoy with espresso.”
Aroma: Welcoming as there is no burn, toffee roasted walnut, black licorice, baked red delicious apple, creamy finish.
Flavor: There’s the burn, but only at the finish as expected. Robust viscosity and mouthfeel, fresh cut anise, Mandarin orange and meringue. Wholly pleasant. Would be a great aperitif or digestif in my opinion. 96 Eve pts.
From the Opolo Distillery
With Opolo’s rich ties to the Balkan coast, co-owners Rick Quinn and Dave Nichols have combined their winemaking expertise with traditional recipes to create complex fruit brandies. Distilled from the fermented fruit itself, the brandies have not been adulated with added flavors. Our first release includes Grappa from Opolo’s estate grown Muscat Blanc, a William’s Pear Brandy distilled from northern California Bartlett pears and a Nocino, a walnut based liqueur made from our organic estate walnuts. Come by and experience the distillery!
Available for purchase in the Tasting Room.
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com
Culver City, CA: With the exciting announcement of Executive Chef Brendan Collins and Chef de Cuisine Ali Haji taking over the kitchen at The Corner Door, the Culver City mainstay has undergone a culinary transformation with its new dining menu, highlighting the ever changing flavors of the season. From the opening of The Corner Door just three years ago, Bar Manager and cocktail aficionado Beau du Bois has set high standards, creating intriguing seasonal cocktail menus that have consistently rivaled the best in the city. Now du Bois raises the bar (and his own high standards) again with his Spring Drinks Menu that will be available for just a limited amount of time!
Recognized as one of Zagat Los Angeles’ 30 Under 30 in 2011 and ranked as one of America’s 25 Best Bartenders by the Daily Meal in 2012 (du Bois was #12), du Bois possesses the talent, creativity and know-how without the expected arrogance. Genuinely modest, you will always find him behind the bar mastering his craft alongside his team on their own “little island of cocktail creativity,” where he can mix new drinks and actually witness guests reaction to them.
“I always try to explore and break the boundaries of cocktail culture. With a great team in the kitchen and an innovative new dining menu, I am excited to be able to push these boundaries a bit further,” says du Bois.
Pushing that culture forward is a cocktail list comprised of three sections: six Shaken, six Stirred and two Classics. One of the more culinary-minded new cocktails on du Bois’ list could be found in the Shaken section of the menu: the Three Way. A Spring flavor combination of tamarind and citrus, the drink calls for jalapeño-infused tequila, house-made raspberry and tamarind cordial, lime and egg white. “This particular cocktail may be foregoing super cocktail ethos,” says du Bois. (That is to say, the libation is spicy!) “We throw up the challenge flag on this drink and give it a strong 8 or 9 out of 10 when it comes to spicy, which is truly what the neighborhood wants. Guests always come first in our eyes and this cocktail is a perfect example of that.”
A visually stunning head turner, the refreshing Topless Mermaid, is the first vodka cocktail du Bois has put on the menu in a long time (besides his crafty Moscow Mule On Tap made from scratch and carbonated in-house). This tropical combo of vodka, pineapple, lime, banana-infused rose and blue curacao tastes as delicious as it looks, and as du Bois puts it, “the only thing better than a mermaid, is a topless mermaid.”
A clever gin concoction created as a special for the Emmy Awards and left on the menu due to its popularity, is the Jesse Pink Gin, named in honor of Aaron Paul who was nominated for his star-making turn as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad. The backbone of the drink is gin and Angostura Bitters, with “a little whiff” of coconut liqueur, orgeat and lime to balance out the flavor and bring out the tiki essence.
Rounding out the Shaken section of the menu are satisfying staples like the Miner Incident, with dry fruit notes apricot liqueur and lemon mixed with bourbon and habanero honey, the House French 75 with gin, Lillet Rose, lemon, sugar, peach bitters and finished with sparkling wine, as well as the smoky Mezcallin crafted with mezcal, lemon, ginger and pineapple gomme.
Moving into the Stirred section of The Corner Door beverage menu, guests can find drinks that are imaginative and multifaceted. The perfect paradigm of complexity is a last-minute addition crafted by du Bois: the Death Row Cocktail. He came up with the drink after someone asked what he would order if he could only have one last cocktail. “I would want a complex cocktail with a lot of layers,” du Bois says. And the Death Row Cocktail delivers, with two types of rum, kaffir lime and coconut-infused Campari, sweet vermouth and Aztec chocolate bitters. “It is a very niche cocktail, not for everybody. After just one sip, the flavor constantly changes as it lingers, allowing you to experience all the ingredients of the cocktail in an incredible way.”
There are old favorites too, including the Taco Truck, a mezcal-based Negroni variation with pineapple and cinnamon-infused Campari, a toasty Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned that is arguably the best in town and the Lumberjack Liquor Cabinet composed of bourbon, apple brandy, maple syrup and cinnamon smoke. This section also highlights Benedictine in the form of two very different cocktails: the Louisiana Regular with rye, Benedictine, grapefruit cordial, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe, as well as the Bitter Giuseppe with bourbon, blended scotch, Cynar and Benedictine.
Two old school throwbacks emerge in the Classics section: the Billionaire made with bourbon, lemon, grenadine and absinthe, as well as the Daiquiri with silver rum, sugar and lime.
The Corner Door’s drink menu has plenty of beer and wine offerings that also reflect the same versatility as the cocktail list. There are thirteen Wines by the glass or the bottle including the bright and refreshing Damana Verdejo, 2012 from Rueda, Spain to the more aromatic and earthy Martin Ray Pinot Noir, 2013 from Russian River, California. Seven Draught Beers, all but one brewed in California, run the spectrum from light and bubbly—Black Market Bavarian Hefeweizen from Temecula—to rich and hearty—Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout from Healdsburg. The Bottle/Can Beer list also features unique brews like the Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Maui Brewing Coconut Porter and Unibroue La Fin du Monde.
With Beau du Bois and his team behind the bar at The Corner Door, there will always be something for boozy beginners to enjoy, as well as something special for hardcore cocktail enthusiasts to seek out and explore. In a few short weeks, du Bois will be introducing his new Summer Drinks Menu, so stop by soon and break some boundaries… before this exciting limited time Spring Drinks Menu officially ends!
The Corner Door is open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 12:00 am, and from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am on Friday and Saturday. Happy Hour is offered every day from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, and late night happy hour is also available every night. For more information or reservations, please visit www.thecornerdoorla.com or call The Corner Door directly at 310.313.5810.
Photo Credit: acuna-hansen
The Corner Door
12477 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90066
What a treat it has been for me to find an old acquaintance of mine had written what I think is the essential bar book, “The 12 Bottle Bar” with her husband, still lives in my neighborhood, and graciously gave me a copy of my own to devour!
Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, who some may remember as one of the first managers of Valencia Wine Company, along with her booze-educated husband David, have put together a book that not only details what to have in your home bar, within your budget, but also delivers clever and insightful short anecdotes you can read aloud to your guests when you try out the innovative recipes.
The 12 Bottles
The 12 bottles, as I know that’s your next question, are: Brandy, Dry Gin, Genever (for wine 101ers this is a more flavorful Gin but you must read the Solmonsons’ description to get the full “flavor” on that), Amber Rum, White Rum, Rye Whiskey (our new favorite), Vodka (under duress), Orange Liqueur, Dry and Sweet Vermouth, Aromatic and Orange Bitters.
The Solmonsons also give their recommendations on “Tools of the Trade” as well as those that prefer to budget their bar to one to four bottles alone. There is more than one index listing out where specific cocktail recipes can be found quickly in the book, garnishes, as well as virgin, beer, wine and cider drinks. There are also indexes on Conversion Tables and where to find the Solmonsons’ own favorite bars.
Teaser on the Cocktails
As I took notes as I read the book, I now have over a dozen recipes – at least – that I’ve tried and are now permanently in my bar program. (The Rye Whiskey Buck is our new favorite!) And with names like this, and killer ingredients, these are next on my list to make: The Fitzgerald, The Collins, French 75, West Indian Cocktail, Wild Rose, Mint Julep, Limoncello Drop, The Vampire…
To Do List
I will be buying at least one Genever as I love the juniper flavor in Gin, I want to learn more about “Jerry Thomas, the Babe Ruth of Bartenders”, I will ask guests their preference (favorite spirit, mood, sweet or tangy and strength) before just giving them my favorite, I’ll be muddling my mint differently, talking to bartenders differently…
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com