If there was a definition of “L.A. cocktail” in the Urban Dictionary, I’d like to think E.P. & L.P. beverage director Alex Straus’ cocktails would appear in the accompanying gallery. At the brand-new West Hollywood restaurant, Straus—whose name has been adopted by the cocktail community to mean “to be extremely intoxicated” (it actually appears in the Urban Dictionary)—has invented new, fun ways to imbibe. His cocktails are vivid, bright, and both fun to look at and fun to drink. They’re what the world imagines Angelenos drink while atop a roof overlooking the Hollywood Hills at sunset.
But when thinking up the cocktail program, Straus (who’s part of the acclaimed cocktail consulting firm Bon Vivants) didn’t set out to make seemingly gimmicky drinks. Rather, he wanted to create something that not only complemented chef Louis Tikaram’s dishes but helped the diner out when things got too spicy.
“When you’re eating spicy Thai food, you’re not really wanting to sip on something. You want it lighter in style,” says Straus.
Thus a majority of the drinks here are refreshing, long, and lower in ABV—what Straus describes as “More something you can down while you’re eating spicy food, and it really complements the flavors.”
E.P., the restaurant portion of the venue, will showcase food-friendly drinks while upstairs on the roof at both L.P. and private bar Frankie’s they will be more experimental. It’s where you’ll find the large-format cocktails, cocktails on tap and boba cocktails, which unfortunately weren’t ready at the time of this writing.
Here are some highlights of the cocktail program:
Food-friendly Old Fashioned: “The reason I went with a blended whiskey is because it’s far more complementary with food than sipping straight bourbon,” says Straus. “It’s lighter. It’s more of a Canadian whiskey Old Fashioned. There’s none of that big robustness, it’s easier to drink.” Fun fact: Since “Life Cultivated” is the tagline for the restaurant, for his Old Fashioned Straus researched traditional Asian ingredients that were said to extend life and then integrated them into the cocktail.
Stirred cocktail flight: “I always think stirred cocktails are great, but I never want more than one of them. So I made a flight of them,” he says. The cocktails include a rum one, a Manhattan variation, blended Scotch with Suze, and a genever cocktail with pandan leaf syrup. It’s the ideal way to taste everything without having to commit to a single cocktail. The flight, which amounts to having two cocktails, is served on a board with four neat glasses, each one filled with an ounce and a quarter of cocktail.
Housemade rum blend: To create something that had backbone, flavor, and depth, Straus blended five different rums to be used across property. It took a lot of experimentation, he says, but in the end, he found the best mix with Solera rum from the Dominican Republic aged 6 to 12 years, Atlantico Reserva, El Dorado 5 year from Guyana, Ed Hamilton’s 151 Demerara, Rum JM 100 Proof White from Martinique, and Bacardi Heritage 90 Proof. “Sip with care, there’s a lot of rich ingredients in there as well,” he says.
The 8-oz cocktail: The Knuckle Duster (Absolut Elyx, Fino sherry, pineapple, lime, pandan leaf, and dusted with cinnamon) is “made for two people,” but for those who don’t feel like making multiple trips to the bar, just order one and done. At $35, it is pricey for two cocktails, but consider that the cocktails here range from $11 to $15, and the fact that you’ll be drinking out of a copper pineapple.
The bar crew: “I knew this place was going to be great, so I wanted to make sure we had the people that could handle that,” says Straus. Look for top-rated bartenders behind the stick like Una Green (Sotto), Nate Oliver (Butchers & Barbers), Adam Nystrom (Harlowe), Lisa Crossman (Waterloo & City), and Cory James (Eveleigh).
E.P. & L.P. opens tomorrow. Hours are 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
E.P. & L.P., 603 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-856-9955