AOC is Serving Up Festive Winter Cocktails in West Hollywood

Whether the holidays lift you up or bring you down—or both—this is the perfect time to try the artisanal cocktails at AOC in WeHo

After a holiday filled with family and business obligations, a small gathering of friends may be just the balm we need as the year ends. AOC, the cozy restaurant on 3rd Street with a menu of small plates and a renowned wine list, is a stellar choice for a gathering of our chosen compadres.

In addition to wines, the head bartender, Ignacio Murillo (known to all as Murillo) has designed a seasonal cocktail list for the long winter months. After 17 years at AOC, he knows how to satisfy the need to gather in friendship and conviviality. So, cozy up, if you will. Choose a community table or booth in the main room, or if it’s just a bit cool, gather ’round the outdoor patio fireplace. Our favorite perch, though, is at the bar watching Murillo greet neighbors as well as newcomers, helping them chose a new cocktail or two from his list.

We loved the Bartlett Sour ($18) made with bourbon, poached Bartlett pears and a house- made almond syrup. It tastes of winter and warmth, as does the Toki Old Fashioned ($18) The classic drink has an added twist, mixing Suntory whiskey with allspice syrup and pecan bitters. Murillo learned his cocktail magic by working his way up through the ranks at AOC, from busing to head bartender, always learning and developing what owner Suzanne Goin says is a superb palate.

The Sunshine, a Bartlett Sour, the Toki Old Fashioned and many other seasonal creations will warm your mood at AOC this winter. (Photo by Suzanne Lanza)

“I talk to the chefs,” says Murillo. “I’ve learned from them what combinations will work well. They helped me to develop skills and introduced me to ingredients as well as technique.”

Bartender extraordinaire Murillo will guide you through his exotic and delicious concoctions. (Photo by Suzanne Lanza)

That collaboration enabled him to design The Sunshine ($18), a mix of tequila blanco, golden beet liqueur, orange and Chile de árbol. Sounds odd, but it’s delicious. He can guide customers through the menu recommending cocktails that would enhance food, much as wines are matched to a meal. If you like gin or vodka there are strong contenders on the list as well as mescal in Smoke & Passion ($19) with passion fruit, coconut and lime.

Though AOC no longer offers happy hour, the small plates format allows customers to create their own. Try the Farmer’s Plate ($20), a generous serving of roasted vegetables, chickpea puree and grilled toast, made to be shared. The Spanish Fried Chicken ($23) with romesco aioli is justly famous, its crust shattering with each bite. Carb lovers cannot resist the Focaccia ($20) topped with grilled eggplant, mozzarella, pecorino and rapini pesto. There are many more choices, catering to a variety of appetites with fish, shellfish and meat on offer.

If you’re in the mood for a low-key evening without ugly sweaters or family arguments, then AOC is welcome respite after the holiday madness.

AOC 8700 W. 3d Street, West Hollywood
Phone: 310.859.9859
Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Pick up and delivery available.

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