In L.A., it’s easy to become jaded about the weather. 72 degrees and sunny. Again?! But good news is, what our bartenders are creating for spring will have you celebrating the sunny days again like a newbie Angeleno. Not only are there refreshing, light libations, but also look at all those fun colors. There’s a blue cocktail!
Here are some of the best ways to toast the season.
Like the classic Zombie tiki cocktail, you’re only allowed to order a maximum of two of Harlowe’s The Ides of March by bartender Chris Amirault. It’s made with Rhum J.M. Gold, Mount Gay Black Barrel, Hamilton 151, lime, ginger, pineapple, Donn’s Spice No. 2, and Harlowe Zombie mix, but amazingly there’s no burn despite all that rum, leaving one to think that it’s possible to plow through several of these.
AOC’s Bohemian Sour on the new spring menu is barman Christiaan Rollich’s crafty version of Argentina’s unofficial national cocktail, Coke and fernet. His is made with R. Jelinek fernet, house-made kola, ginger, vanilla, cloves, and egg white. It’s frothy and sweet, but with the right amount of herbaceous complexity thrown in.
Gracias Madre bartender Jason Eisner’s cocktail menu offers several fun ways to imbibe, like a juniper-infuzed mezcal Margarita with three blue absinthe ice spheres, and chocolate and tequila pairings. But his new Matcha Do About Nothing boba cocktail (ceremonial-grade matcha, coconut milk, toasted sesame-infused agave tapioca pearls cured in a savory edamame syrup, house-made lime bitters, and a cherry blossom) is the way you want to go. Turns out matcha tea and coconut are a delightful pairing. You won’t be able to have just one, and who doesn’t love slurping boba?
Terrine’s new Strawberry Puff cocktail (Hayman’s Old Tom gin, strawberries, lemon, cream) by barman Ryan Wainwright is what managing partner Francois Renaud aptly calls “California’s answer to the Ramos Gin Fizz.” It’s delicate, light, and bright, and best enjoyed on that gorgeous patio.
Drinking this robin-egg-blue cocktail is “pretty much like drinking a beautiful spring day,” says bartender Brynn Smith of her new Mr. Blue Sky. It’s a light, frothy egg Sour made with St. George Botanivore gin, Iris liqueur, Bitter Truth Violet, lemon, egg white, evaporated cane sugar, and Luxardo Sambuca mist.
There’s a special ritual for enjoying the Cocchi Cobbler (Cocchi Rosa aperitif wine, vodka, passionfruit, lime, and aromatic bitters) by Cliff’s Edge’s Darwin Manahan: First take a sip of the drink and then a bite of one of the fresh berries held aloft by the delicate ice cup garnish. The sweetness of the berry balances out the brightness of this vacation-in-a-glass cocktail.
The Corner Door’s Beau du Bois turned Pink Gin, a cocktail favored by hard-core drinkers, aka sailors, and not at all a girly drink, into an enjoyable and approachable sipper for his spring menu. Jesse Pink Gin, one of the most clever Breaking Bad cocktail names ever, is a mix of gin, lime juice, orgeat, coconut liqueur, and a lot of Angostura.
L.A. Chapter’s Sons of Capri is a cocktail ode to our great state, showcasing the flavors of California while at the same time giving a nod to our Mexican and Spanish heritage with its mix of reposado tequila, peach, Cynar, pineapple, amontillado, orgeat, and Angostura bitters. The result is “a light but complex cocktail, bright and fruity with a funky, complex finish,” explains beverage director Dan Sabo.
Made with Absolut Elyx vodka, Thai basil, cucumber, St. Elder elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon, and strawberry lambic, Butchers & Barbers’ Clara Bow cocktail is a cross between an East Side and a Shandy. This cocktail is ultimately “something with vodka and not too sweet,” says bar manager Avery Underhill. “Cucumber and Thai basil deliver a subtle herbaceous bite while the dry and bubbly flavors of strawberry lambic float through to the finish.”
For something different this spring other than shaken and on ice, try Picca’s Primrose cocktail. Soft, delicate, and aromatic, it’s a mix of pisco, dry vermouth, Chareau aloe liqueur, citric simple syrup, Peychaud bitters, and rose water mist.
Mohawk Bend’s new lead bartender Thom Sigsby went way nerdy when he named his spring cocktail The Vulcan. Apparently, during this season, the earth’s axis increases its tilt relative to the sun and is in its closest proximity to the fictional planet Vulcan from Star Trek. It doesn’t get more springtime than that. A concoction of Ballast Point Barrel-Rested Old Grove gin, Fruit Lab’s organic hibiscus liqueur, lime juice, mint, and blackberry, the cocktail possesses the vibrancy and airiness of the season.
For Colin Shearn, bar manager of Magnolia House in Pasadena, his Wicked Game cocktail is the “most California drink.” It not only infuses gin with jalapeno but also watermelon with Dolin Blanc. “Watermelon and Dolin Blanc are so amazing together, cooling and refreshing,” he says. This works well with the approachable spice level of the spicy gin. “If you’re somebody who is leery of spice, it’s not going to overwhelm you.”