At Duello, the History of the Arts District Comes Alive—in Cocktail Form

A peek inside the menu at Simone’s spirited cocktail spot

At Duello, the 25-seat cocktail bar attached to chef Jessica Largey’s new Arts District restaurant Simone, history is on the menu. Duello bar director Iain McPherson, a Scotsman best known for his decorated Edinburgh speakeasy Panda & Sons, designed the bar’s cocktail list as a trip through various periods of the Arts District. Each chapter of drinks features illustrated vignettes and thematic recipes (citrus-forward drinks, for instance, highlight the orange-growing industry that once thrived east of downtown).

A self-professed history buff, McPherson was enlisted to come to California by film director Joe Russo, one of Duello’s investors, who became enamored with McPherson’s old-timey drinking dens while filming The Avengers in Scotland. McPherson drew from the Arts District’s colorful past—from vineyards to produce warehouses to the booming creative hub seen today—in designing the bar’s concept. “All of the menus I’ve ever done integrate the past in some way,” he says. “There are so many different eras of the Arts District, and the more I scratched the surface, the more I was interested.” Here’s a peek at what he’s pouring.

Wine Era 

(1890’s)

The Lance Bishop, a spin on the classic wine-based Bishop’s Cocktail, blends merlot with rum, lime, barrel-aged bitters, and “clove smoke” to pay homage to the neighborhood’s once-bountiful vines.


Citrus Era 

(1920’s) 

A nod to a time when citrus groves and packinghouses blanketed the region, the citrusy tiki-esque gin drink Firing Blancs includes sauvignon blanc, salted orange syrup, pineapple, and lemon.


Artist Era 

(1970’s) 

McPherson’s savory Kimchi Gibson martini, part of a menu section dedicated to midcentury artists, is a tribute to Po Kim, a Korean painter whose work often combined a sense of mystery with reality.


Modern Era

(2010’s) 

The low-alcohol Sage Against the Machine, a shaken sipper made with Rittenhouse Rye, kefir apple cider, and fresh sage, refers to the area’s current enthusiasm for juice bars and fermented beverages.


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