Summer is when L.A. is at its finest. Long, sunny days are best spent by the beautiful beaches while nights are meant for enjoying refreshing cocktails with fresh summer ingredients. Around mid-July, bars begin debuting their summer cocktail menus.
If you can’t decide what to drink out of all the tasty options, don’t worry. I asked the drinkmakers themselves to recommend their favorites off of their menus. It was hard for them to choose just one … but, let’s just say that I can be persuasive.
➻ This week, Allumette in Echo Park kicked off a new bar-only menu of small bites to go with its new summer cocktails. And out of the new libations bartender Serena Herrick is liking on the “Strega Genesis” which is made with Strega, Dolin Dry, lemon, lime, cardamom, and fennel bitters, garnished with a luxardo cherry. “It’s a light and refreshing cocktail, not too heady, with an understated complexity. It’s one I find almost too easy to drink, especially in the summer.”
➻ At Bestia, bar lady Karen Grill loves “Bill the Butcher” with Rhum JH Gold, egg whites, lemon juice, Aperol and barrel-aged Peychauds. “Because the rum is a little funky and the Aperol is a little sweet, it ties into a really nice summer flavor. And I always love the smell of that barrel-aged Peychauds just because you get a lot of that wood. So it’s a whole sensory thing, you get a little bitter, the texture from the egg, the sweetness from the Aperol, so there’s everything in that cocktail and it’s just so distinctly Bestia because it’s essentially branded [with a stencil of Bestia’s cleaver].”
➻ Cana Rum Bar downtown just debuted its new summer menu this week and bar manager Danielle Crouch is loving the “Razzle Dazzle” cocktail. “It reminds me of every good summer I’ve ever had. Some were filled with fresh berries, others with Haagen-Dazs sorbet bars and the best ones with bourbon. This cocktail features bourbon, raspberry syrup, citrus, amaro Montenegro and housemade coconut cream (which by itself is a real treat).”
➻ West L.A.’s Corner Door will be rolling out its new summer cocktails today but bartender Beau Du Bois counts his Art Beyond the Glass creation “Taco Truck,” which made it on the list, as his favorite. “I originally designed the recipe for Art Beyond the Glass but it kept haunting my dreams. Rightfully so, as many bartenders have a Negroni variation always present at the edge of their cravings. Amongst many flavors, dried pineapple always comes to mind when I sip on Mezcal. With just a touch of cinnamon, the cocktail punches up the flavor of it’s forefather. My apologies, Classic Negroni, I think we just broke up.”
➻ You can’t go wrong with any of the cocktails at Eveleigh but head barman Dave Kupchinsky is madly in love with his “Song of Solomon” cocktail, which is a variation on Chad Solomon’s “Bensonhurst.” This one, however, took months to make with Dave trying to find the perfect bitters to complement its ingredients of Willet 4yr 110 Proof Rye, Vermouth de Chambery, maraschino and Cynar. Finally he discovered Miracle Mile Celery Bitters. “The celery when combined with rye takes over and this amazing flavor combination comes out. It’s a little salty, it gets you in the jaw with a little bit of an umami quality.” For fans of Manhattans, Dave swears this is a “nice, light summer Manhattan with an herbaceousness.”
➻ Sotto bar director Brynn Smith isn’t from the South but her favorite new cocktail is “Life’s a Peach.” With its muddled peach, bourbon, honey, creme de peche and prosecco she finds it the “perfect summer aperitivo, light and dry and delicious.”
➻ If you’re looking for a staycation in a glass, Spare Room Beverage Director Naomi Schimek recommends her fave summer cocktail “Vacation —> All I Ever Wanted” with Ilegal Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, passion fruit syrup and lime. “It’s everything that’s wonderful about how summer and Los Angeles make you feel inside of a glass. It’s simple and fun. It only has four ingredients but it has wonderful complexity, a great spirit in the Ilegal and the character from the Green Chartreuse, tropical vibe with the passion fruit.”
➻ Wood & Vine’s Bayardo De Murguia has a sweet tooth as evident by his pick, the root beer-inspired “‘Merica” cocktail with rye, Art in the Age Root liquor, Fernet Branca, vanilla bean foam over crushed ice. “As a kid, I was always a fan of root beer floats, and what better way to remember that than to make a nice boozy variation? It blends well together to create a nice drink that’s perfect for the summer weather. This is definitely the bartender favorite at Wood & Vine and it also helps me support local and domestic products by using the Root liquor.”
➻ At Ink, bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk favors her new “Blended Scotch Julep” and shares her recipe if you want to try it at home. “It’s the blended scotch infused with toasted coconut and kaffir lime leaves. The drink is pretty simple since it’s based on a julep but instead of mint am muddling Thai basil and cilantro and garnishing it with leaves and buds of basil and cilantro. Reason why I love it, my favorite flavors come from Thai food, to me the drink is refreshing and aromatic and makes me think of hot summer nights on the beach in Thailand.”
Blended Scotch Julep by Ink’s Gabriella Mlynarczyk
2 1/2 oz blended scotch infused with toasted coconut and kaffir lime leaves
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz cardamaro
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
2 dash Angostura bitters
6 Thai basil leaves and 2 cilantro flowers for muddling
1) Muddle in tin with sugar, add rest of ingredients and shake.
2) Strain over pellet ice, top with another dash of Angostura bitters and garnish with a plethora of leaves and buds. The garnish should stay in the drink. As with a Julep the aroma of the leaves in an essential sensory part of the drink.