I hate to say it but I’m gonna: With the holidays just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about gift ideas. And fortunately for you there’s a newish cocktail emporium on Beverly Boulevard, a stone’s throw from The Grove. The Cocktail Lab was actually opened in May this year, by cocktail enthusiasts and drinking buddies Rose Borggraefe, Nicole Ostoya, and Eric Treiber. The trio saw a hole left by liquor stores like Beverages & More which focus more on an inventory of spirits rather than quality mixers, tools, and glassware.
“Sixty percent of what you put into your cocktail is drink mixes and 40 percent is your spirit. You’re already going to have a great spirit at home,” said Borggraefe. “The 60 percent that you add to it needs to be special, it needs to be natural ingredients so we really wanted to focus on natural ingredients and great-quality tasting mixers.” So for their store they handpick their inventory, researching online and trying every single product. It’s gotta taste and look good to make it onto their shelves.
As for carrying actual booze, they’ve already filled out the paperwork to get their license and hope to start stocking the hard stuff early next year.
Til then here’s what you can find at the store for your home cocktailing needs.
1) Bitters, garnishes, condiments: They’ve got all the fixings for a gourmet Bloody Mary bar, like Pacific Pickle Works pickled asparagus spears and bourbon barrel-aged Worcestershire sauce. There’s also a bitters sampling bar. A good thing considering they stock 12 different lines of bitters, like the best-selling Miracle Mile Bitters and El Guapo Bitters, which features unusual, exotic flavors like Gumbo bitters.
2) Cocktail mixes: If you’re pressed for time, the Cocktail Lab has a variety of insta-mixes. And we’re not talking those grocery store bottom-shelf corn-syrupy kinds. “These are all small-batch mixers which makes it easy for our customers to take it home and shake it themselves and make a quick cocktail party,” said Borggraefe. The most popular one has been Arrowhead Farms’ Spitfire Margarita, which Ostoya loves with Hellfire bitters.
3) Vintage glass- and barware: Treiber scours estate sales. He’s found treasures like a vintage jigger handmade by Porter Blanchard, Arts and Crafts silversmith to stars like Cary Grant and Joan Crawford. “It’s not priced because a lot of his pieces are in museums. But I’m going to take it to the Craft and Folk Art Museum here in L.A. and have it appraised,” said Treiber. “There’s a wealth of items out there that have character and we’ve been very lucky. Most of the time we find these pieces and they go out the next weekend so it’s this constant chase going on to find interesting, cool stuff.”
4) DIY kits and gift baskets: Splurge on the Hella Bitters’ Craft Your Own Bitters Kit for your favorite home bartender. Or grab a ready-to-go gift basket like the Ultimate Margarita Collection or The Perfect Old Fashioned. However, if you can’t find one you like, they could also customize one.
5) Cocktail classes: The store has just started offering classes. For its very first one next Thursday the 13th, the Liquid Alchemist’s Randy Tarlow will teach how to use small-batch syrups in cocktails. For $55 a person, attendees get 5-ounce Liquid Alchemist syrup, $20 toward a store purchase that evening, and recipes to take home.