When you first glide through Acabar’s ornate gold doors, you’re instantly transported to an incredibly beautiful and incense-scented far-off locale. Since Frederic and Nicolas Meschin’s new Hollywood restaurant has claimed the 40-year-old Dar Maghreb restaurant space on the corner of Stanley Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, its classic and exotic gorgeousness is genuine. None of this manufactured faux-vintage, Vegas grandiosity. All those tiles and hand-carved woodwork are from the previous restaurant. And they made sure to seamlessly integrate any additional decor. So you truly feel as if you are in a Moroccan riad and not a Disneyland version of it.
It’s this respect for history and authenticity that inspired cocktailers Josh Goldman and Julian Cox of the Soigné Group. Unlike in their previous programs where they created unique cocktails to complement the cuisine, this one is made of historically accurate drinks to pay homage to the space’s history, with a nod to the Meschin Brothers’ French background. “We haven’t done our own unique cocktails like we have with other programs because we just want to be rooted in the classics,” said Josh, a history buff who also has a degree in history from UCLA. (Go Bruins!)
“It’s my hope that I get people to love cocktails and the history of them as much as I do. Especially in L.A. we tear down old to build new, we don’t have a sense of the past. In a city that’s pushing the edge of what’s new, I just want to remind everybody that we’re making these cocktails the way we think–and from what we’ve read–they served them back then.”
The drink list of 10 cocktails ($10 to $14 each) and three punches is divided into different eras, most of which had been outlined in cocktail historian/author David Wondrich’s Imbibe: Archaic, Baroque, and Classic. And then the boys added their own eras of Post-Prohibition and Tiki and Modern. The menu also credits the source of each drink for a mini cocktail history lesson.
“I like this because as a group of craft cocktail bartenders we always want to outdo each other with the next crazy cocktail, which are delicious,” explained Josh. “But it’s like I always say about chefs: You really need to be firmly steeped in the classics. If you don’t know how to make a daiquiri or Manhattan then what the fuck are you doing?”
There are a few cocktails on tap—”Acabar Sazerac,” “Zombie,” and the “Chartreuse Swizzle”—but the real highlight will be Acabar’s punches. “I’m really excited about our punch program,” said Josh. “As old school as it is I’m really hoping our punch service and our ability to get it out faster is going to replace the bottle service at clubs.” The sexy lounge’s entourage-friendly seating circle as well as several low couches throughout are conducive to punch parties. Punches are available for six or eight friends, $115 and $150 respectively.
Here’s a peek at the menu.
Archaic Era (1783-1830)
Ti Punch: Rhum Agricole, cane syrup, lime; choice of white, 1 year aged, or V.S.O.P
Admiral Edward Russell’s Punch: Amontillado, Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, lemon sorbet, nutmeg
Acabar Sazerac: Cognac, rye, Peychaud’s bitters, absinthe rinse
Baroque Era (1830-1885)
Tom Collins: Old Tom Gin, lemon, soda water
Sherry Cobbler: Dry Amontillado Sherry, seasonal fruits
Classic Era (1885-1920)
Cuban No. 2: Cognac, apricot, lemon
Post-Prohibition and Tiki Era (1933-1990)
Zombie (maximum 2 per person): Jamaican Rum, Puerto Rican Rum, Lemon-Heart 151, Lime, Don’s Mix, Falernum
El Diablo: Blanco Tequila, ginger, lime, cassis, soda water
Modern Era (2000-Present)
Chartreuse Swizzle: Green Chartreuse, pineapple, lime, falernum
Juliet & Romeo: Gin, lime, mint, cucumber, salt, rose water
Russian Spring: Vodka, lemon, cassis, raspberry, sparkling wine
Martha Washington’s Rum Punch: Batavia Arrack, English Harbor 5 Yr. Rum, lime sorbet, lemon sorbet, spiced syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg
Philadelphia Fish House Punch: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Appleton 12 Yr. Rum, lemon sorbet, peach brandy, nutmeg