Cocktails of LA: Genever’s Fancy Craft Sea Cup Packs a Wallop

It’s gin with an aromatic lift and spicy salt— and the mixologist harvests her own pink peppercorns from local trees
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The last few years have seen the resurgence of fancy cocktails, and we don’t mean your grannie’s Pink Lady. Just as cooks are now called chefs and have big Instagram followings, bartenders have become mixologists, inventing new drink recipes presented on separate menus and charging $20 for an ounce of hooch to be drunk with your pinkie finger in the air. 

Well, actually, no. The increasing interest in inventive drinks is the real deal. No one knows why. Maybe we spent so much time quarantined at home and now we want going out to be more interesting than a shot and a beer. Whatever. They’re here to stay. 

LAMag went looking for great cocktails and the people who invented them. There are all kinds of drinking joints in this town —some posh, some dives—but if the drinks are good, we’re there. 

Genever | Historic Filipinotown.

Like the speakeasies that inspired it, Genever is a little mysterious and a bit hidden. There’s no clear signage until you see the gold door. What’s with the name? Genever is the basic spirit from which all gins are made. The neighborhood is still a little scruffy, so the interior is a surprise. The pale, monochromatic room has seating on the banquette along one wall and in scattered armchairs. There’s a tiny niche perfect for first-date flirting or a serious conversation calling for privacy. Either way, this is a room for seduction, conversation—and serious appreciation of the world of spirits. 

Opened with a Kickstarter campaign, the three owners are Filipina women in tech and finance who grew up in Filipinotown. They wanted a gin bar, since that’s their favorite tipple, and it’s unusual enough to draw in the alcohol-curious. A total of 50 different gins line the bar along with all the usual hard liquor, beer, and wine. But craft cocktails are the point for most customers. 

The Mistress of Libations is Kelso Norris, who honed her chops at some of the best restaurants and bars in New York. A child of the Midwest, she found her husband and her trade in the big city and is now bringing her talent to the left coast. Sit at the bar under the undulating custom-made chandelier and she can spin each cocktail’s ingredients into a story. Where did the bitters come from? Which fruits and vinegar are from the Philippines? What’s the best gin in the world? She laughs at that one.

The drinks are reasonably priced at $14 and at happy hour, they’re $8. These are not libations you guzzle, but as Kelso says, “Drink as you like, whatever your style.” She is partial to the Sea Cup. It’s a gin with an aromatic lift and spicy salt.  She tells LAMag that she harvests her own pink peppercorns from local trees. 

“I mix them with juniper berries and fennel salt,” she says, offering a customer a whiff of the mixture. He settles back, content with a well-made drink to start his evening. Who knows? He may come back to end the evening too.  

As a bonus, they sell locally made frozen pizza for customers to take home for an evening-ending nosh. 

Genever
3123 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90057
T: (323) 577 5446
www.geneverla.com
Tuesday-Thursday (6 p.m. to 11 p.m.), Friday and Saturday (6 p.m. to midnight). 

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