Battle Manhattan: Mandrake VS Verdugo Bar
One of my favorite bars is the Mandrake in Culver City. It’s on La Cienenga, in between Venice and Washington. There’s a tiny sign that says “bar.” Otherwise there’s no other signage and most people have trouble locating it the first time they go. Walking in, you’ll find the most “hipster” bar on the Westside. There are low tables made from tree trunks, a “gallery” (I’ve heard they have art but I’ve yet to see any) and an outdoor patio where they grow their own mint. There are some snacks available. The music can be good depending on who’s the DJ. I hate to admit that I have a date bar but this is what the Mandrake is to me. I meet a lot of dates here.
I do come here just with friends though as I did after dinner at Mariscos Chente. I ordered my usual Bloody Mary. Yep, I do order Bloodies at night. And I damn well like theirs with the veritable salad they give you; the grape tomato is usually the sweetest grape tomato I’ve had in months. Where they find them, I have no idea.
They have a short list of cocktails though you can order whatever you feel like. They tend to turn up their nose though if you try to order a vodka redbull. They like to make cocktails. Sometimes I might have a mint julep to fully take advantage of the freshly grown mint. Or any of the drinks with ginger as they will add a dash of minced ginger for an extra kick.
I overheard someone ordering a Manhattan and suddenly I felt like one. What I got was somewhat odd. I didn’t expect it on the rocks Whenever I order a Manhattan, it comes up in a cocktail glass. Later I saw the other bartender making them in what I deem the proper way. My drink wasn’t bad but it went down too easily with the ice.**
2692 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034-2604
I was still on a Manhattan kick the next night on while on the Craft Beer Crawl. I couldn’t resist, I ordered a Manhattan at Verdugo Bar. It was definitely pleasing to look at but I felt there was a bit too much vermouth. I should have ordered it perfect (half sweet vermouth, half dry vermouth) but neglected to.
Still, this is the bar I come to when I want a good rum on the rocks. I was back a couple nights later and went to a fall back- Jameson and Ginger. I asked the bartender what other whiskeys would she recommend and she said she was a Jameson girl. So, there you have it. This is a no-nonsense bar. They “don’t make Long Island Iced Teas” but did for a friend while I was there. Apparently they felt people would “get wasted.” I suppose that’s not the point of a bar? Er.
3408 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 90065-2835
** Going back through my archives, I apparently had a Manhattan on the rocks at Tony’s Saloon. My only defense was I didn’t order it originally so it may have been asked for that way.