Make Your Own Damn Drink: Build-Your-Own Cocktails Are Hot

What does freedom taste like? Customized Old Fashioneds, Micheladas, and Bloody Marys

Have you ever wished that the drink you ordered was a wee bit stronger? Well now’s your chance to show just what you can do given a little freedom, whether it be pouring your own bubbly in your bottomless mimosa or building your own Old Fashioned. How potent your cocktail or weird your drink combination is totally up to you, so go crazy.

Here are the places in L.A. where you can captain your own cocktail. Godspeed.

Fifty Seven just kicked off its new brunch this past weekend and is showcasing several unusual bottomless drinking options. In addition to all-you-can-drink Rosé 2011 Gaglioppo, CIRÒ Rosato ($16 per person) the downtown restaurant is offering a Mimosa kit ($38) as well as a Michelada kit ($16) to split with your BFF. For the Mimosa, guests receive a bottle of cava, house-made peach and melon puree, freshly squeezed orange juice, and Albion strawberries from Rutiz Farm. The Michelada kit, which sounds like the perfect hangover remedy, includes 32-ounce Pacifico beer, tomato juice, Sal de Gusano, Worcestershire, fish sauce, and housemade hot sauce. Why Michelada? “I wanted to offer something that would match chef Josh Drew’s creativity and also complement the amazing dishes he is offering,” said Beverage Director Brian Simpson. “So, I decided to offer something cheeky and fun for those who prefer beer and spice in lieu of champagne and rosé. It seemed to be in the spirit of the neighborhood.”

As part of its own brunch service, Pearl’s Liquor Bar on the Sunset Strip is also serving up a Mimosa kit. So go to it and pour as much of Pearl’s California sparkling Chardonnay as you want. The kit will arrive tableside with that bottle of house bubbly, orange juice, mixed berries as well as a selection of fresh passionfruit, peach, pear, and strawberry purees.

Choose your own Bloody Mary adventure at Open Air Bar + Kitchen, formerly Fatty’s Public House, in West Hollywood. Will it be the vodka, tequila, or the Michelada route? From there create your own crazy cocktail by choosing from 35 ingredients, toppers, and mix-ins like cheese sticks, deep-fried brussels sprouts, tempura green beans, and 20 types of hot sauce. I’m just waiting for them to break out the fried chicken garnish.

New on Gracias Madre’s cocktail menu is the “Build Your Own Old Fashioned” section. The menu lays it all out for you. All you have to do is pick your spirit (Mezcal Anejo, Tequila Extra Anejo, house Fernet barrel-aged Bacanora), your sweetener (pecan-infused maple syrup, chili-infused raw honey, mesquite smoked agave nectar), and housemade bitters (gentian bitters, orange bitters, cardamom bitters). “The ‘build your own’ model is perfect,” said Gracias Madre beverage director Jason Eisner. “It allows the guest to approach something they are already familiar with (the Old Fashioned), but with more esoteric flavor combinations like aged mezcal with mesquite smoke agave and cardamom bitters.”

OK, this is going the other direction in terms of boozing it up, but Big Bar in Los Feliz has a pastis service that’s perfect for daydrinking. You choose the way you want to drink pastis (be it with fresh mint, grenadine, orgeat, or on its own). The pastis mixture is then made for you and served in a highball glass with yellow striped straw alongside a carafe of ice-cold water for you to lengthen the drink. “It’s so fun, Frenchy, and perfect for summer day drinking on the patio. Somehow, pastis seems to be a more acceptable and elegant style of daydrinking,” said Big Bar’s Eugene Lee.