Exclusive: Your First Look at the Cocktails at Riviera 31

The Sofitel’s new lounge offers cocktails from mixmaster Matthew Biancaniello

Seems that bar chef Matthew Biancaniello wants to improve hotel bar cocktails one hotel at a time. Gosh bless him. After his departure from Hollywood Roosevelt’s Library Bar last year, he went on to consult on the cocktail list for Luxe Rodeo’s On Rodeo Bistro & Lounge. And tonight his cocktails make their debut at the opening of Sofitel L.A.’s new cocktail lounge, Riviera 31.

Matthew created the French Riviera-inspired drink list, but you won’t see infused foam craziness, at least just yet, as he wanted to keep things simple and manageable for the staff of the high-volume bar. However, in true Biancaniello fashion, there will be fresh ingredients and creative flavor combinations.

“What I really wanted to do was margaritas and daiquiris and also have a little bit of the influence of France and maybe up north as well. Just beautiful margaritas with passion fruits and spices and using some bitter stuff and lavender and green chartreuse,” he said.

The hope is that eventually, once the bar has moved past its beginning stage and the staff has got their bearings, the list will advance to something a little more in depth. “We’ll have to see how much they can execute these things,” Matthew said.

Here’s the cocktail list along with Matthew’s tasting notes. And, yes, the bar realizes that there already is a classic cocktail called the Martinez. The cocktails are all named after hotels in the South of France.

Byblos: Wild arugula gimlet. “Bitter lettuce with a zing.”
Martinez: Campari, Aperol, fresh passion fruit. “Greyhound but more bitter.”
Negresco: Mezcal, agave, Ruby Red grapefruit, ghost pepper salt. “Smoky, spicy and tangy.”
Majestic: Cognac, lemon juice, agave, cucumber, basil, Green Chartreuse, sparkling wine. “Herbal and effervescence.”
Monte Carlo Bay: Sparking wine, Aperol, fresh blood orange. “Smooth and juicy.”
Carlton: Rock sake, unfiltered lemon juice, shiso leaves, Aperol, agave cucumber slices. “Dry and rice like with cumin-cinnamon tones.”
Eden Rock: Dry white wine, lime wedges, agave syrup, mint leaves. “Dry mint and extremely refreshing.”

31: Rye, Punt e Mes, Royal Combier, maraschino, salt. “Bold, sweet, orangey and salty.”

Stalking Biancaniello, Part 2

For more Matthew, check out the fortified wine and sherry based cocktail menu he consulted on at Kal’s Bistro in Pasadena which opens May 7. He’s also now pulling shifts at Paiche in Marina del Rey. Every Monday this May he’ll be doing up wine-based cocktails to go with Chef Sergio Perera’s tasting menu at his pop-up in Echo Park’s Cortez. And if you missed his boozy ice cream at Scoops Westside, come May 9th Matthew will pop up at Los Feliz ice cream shop Ramekin. Think, tequila squid ink, olive oil Laphroaig and dirty martini ice creams. Pfew!

Riviera 31, 8555 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90048, (310) 278-5444