Archive for March, 2009

LA Cocktails and Dreams … and Sunsets

March 29, 2009

Some cities are like good albums — you just have to grow into them. Such is my experience with LA. I’ve been there half-dozen times before and this time it started out in typical LA fashion: a hotel with a girl in a box, rubber walls, a trying-to-hard-to-see-and-be-seen scene. My Ginger-mint Margarita (just add Domain de Canton and a few mint leaves) was The Standard hotel’s only saving grace.

So it was off to Koi for some dinner and the possibility of star sightings. No celebs here, but I did enjoy the Berry Bliss (gin, raw agave, pomegranate juice, and fresh raspberries).

The following night, it was time to brave “the scene” once again at the new SLS Hotel, where the bartender served me a tangy Pisco Sour (grape brandy, lemon and lime juice, egg white, sugar, and swirls of bitters) – no celebs here either btw.

By the time I checked into the Hotel Palomar near Beverly Hills, LA was beginning to grow on me. I no longer needed Garmin Electra to get around West Hollywood, and I saw Marissa Tomei driving in the car next to me (score!). So I thought it was time to try out the freeway. I hopped on the 405 and headed down to Manhattan Beach.

When in LA, you have got to experience an LA Sunset. Mine came in the form of Absolut LA Vodka, pomegranate juice, blood orange juice, and pineapple juice — best cocktail in LA so far, being served up with a twist at Sashi Sushi. Backup. Absolut LA Vodka? Yep. The City of Angels has it’s own limited-edition flavor: a blend of acai, acerola, pomegranate, and blueberry (see below for a tasty cocktail from mixology master Dale DeGroff).

Finally, I wrapped the week up with drinks with LA cocktail blogger The Liquid Muse at BLVD 16, where I tried the bar’s signature sip: the BLVD 16 martini (tarragon-infused vodka, Domain de Canton, and citrus juices). Next time I’ll be sure to build in some time for a cocktail safari tour of the city.

Absolut La La Land
1 parts Absolut Los Angeles
1 part cranberry juice
1 part pomegranate juice
1 part lemon-lime soda
Build ingredients into a hi-ball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

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Backlash to Elderflower

March 14, 2009

Oh, Philly – I’ll give you an A for effort, but i have to say, a little disappointed on the cocktails consumed last night. I’ve been wanting to try this place Apothecary Bar + lounge (above) eversince reading about it in Food & Wine. The have a cool concept: bottle service cocktails. If you don’t want to shell out $50+ for a full carafe, you can order just one of their signature Elixirs or a Classic, which is an old-school sip with an Apothecary twist. Most of the cocktails at Apothecary are made with quality spirits, bitters, fresh juices, and herbs. It was a little hard to choose one from the menu (and, unfortunately, the bartender wasn’t much help). I picked the Immunity Idol (it is AI season, after all). The menu describes this sip as “an analeptic of high style for all systems needed” – whatever that means. The problem: too much St. Germain. I should have known, but I was so impressed by my last St. Germain cocktail that I thought the liqueur had redeemed itself. Not so much. You might feel differently though, so here’s the mix: Hendricks gin, St. Germain, fresh pineapple and orange, orange bitters, echinaecea, hawthorn root, and elderberry liniment. I don’t recommend trying to make this one at home – but check it out if you’re in town.

I do, however, recommend the Abricot from Parc (below) – can’t go wrong with a Stephen Starr sip. This one was made with Ricard Pastis (think licorice), apricot liqueur and puree, lemon juice, and cloves. It was delicious…wish I could have eaten there too.

Diamonds and pearls, Melissa.Diamonds and pearls.

March 8, 2009

No, I’m not talking about a Prince song. And if you don’t know the dear, sweet Melissa Mariola you won’t get the title of this blog post either. But needless to say, I could not stay away from the juice this weekend, and it was so worth it. I do believe that last night I found the single best cocktail in New York City. I may have said this before, but its going to be pretty tough to top the Diamonds and Pearls martini at the Jade Bar inside the Gramercy Park Hotel. As I said after the first sip: I just want to make out with my drink right now. Here’s the mix: Reyka vodka and Lillet Blanc shaken with freshly muddled blackberries and a touch of coconut. Fair warning: It’s $19 a pop – but worth every penny.

Closed for St. Patrick’s Day

March 7, 2009

No cocktails this weekend for Martini Talk. It’s all about beer, thanks to Hoboken’s St. Patrick’s Day and Earl’s Beer Pong Birthday Bonanza. I’ll be back next week, but until then, I’ll leave you with this little secret, courtesy of Mr. Al Vagnozzi (my dad):

Sunshine in a Coupe Glass

March 1, 2009


I’m back in New York for a little more than a minute, and I’ve decided that since I’m not here so much anymore, I need to take advantage of the time I’m home. So this weekend I made it my mission to visit Little Branch, a speakeasy-style bar in the West Village. And it just so happened that I made it there twice! What was I drinkin’? Well, at Little Branch (below), the actual cocktail menu is fairly limited to sips w/ lots of brown spirits (think juleps, cognac-infused concoctions, etc.). If just the thought of sippin’ whiskey gives you headache, take a leap of faith and order the Bartender’s Choice. Little Branch’s talented mixologists will ask you what you like and whip up something delicious. My sip was the Sunflower: a lip-puckering blend of gin, St. Germain (yes, it’s back), Cointreau, and absinthe. It was a lovely preview to Spring, which can’t get here fast enough.