DTLA: Bar | Kitchen
Before we started our blogs, the Vixen and I were just a couple of girls who liked to do happy hour in Downtown Los Angeles. We meet up for giggly boozy foodie good times and talk about…boys. Well, what else? That’s what happy hour is for, right? Catching up.
Then we got busy and trying to find a free day between the two of us is a damn near miracle. She’s conquering one happy hour at a time– often in one night (I envy she can do happy hour bar crawls) and I am busy with– hm, I don’t have a niche. Let’s just say when we do get together, it’s going to be good. We volleyed emails back and forth and I suggested Bar | Kitchen for our next DTLA happy hour.
I am no stranger to the O Hotel. I did my birthday party there a couple of years ago and brilliantly planned to stay the night (rooms are cool and modern but a bit small– it is a boutique hotel). They stopped calling their bar O Bar (too many people mistook it for the famed WeHo bar, perhaps?) and are now officially known as Bar | Kitchen. The food has always been good there and with a recent updated cocktail program, the dishes have been changed a bit to play with that aspect more.
We ordered a few things from the happy hour menu as well as their regular menu. I enjoyed the Mexican shrimp with salsa verde though I discarded the sliced chile peppers. I do like spicy but I also wanted to taste everything else without lingering heat. Vixen wanted the bacon-wrapped dates and truffle fries while I tried to get a little healthy with the Swiss chard with artichoke gratin.
I ordered the Negroni (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, orange twist) and the Brown Derby (bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, honey) from the happy hour menu. I liked both but would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. There’s one other cocktail on the HH menu; the Ivy Fizz (vodka, mint, fresh lime, soda).
Although I’m a big fan of their truffle tater tots, we went with the truffle fries and they’re pretty amazing. Anyone who has ever liked poutine or cheese fries will appreciate these.
The cocktail program was revamped by a couple of guys from New York’s Death and Co; David Kaplan (co-owner of D&C) and Alex Day (former bartender at D&C) last Fall. The news made a big splash in LA cocktailian circles. I very much remember my birthday party where screaming barely-legal college kids milling around O Bar and was thankful I had the upstairs lounge. Now the bar is a more quiet, respectable watering hole for boozehounds, um, enthusiasts like me.
Last Friday, the Vixen and I finished up happy hour and went to “join the party” at the bar which at this point had cleared out. We met Charlie, most recently from Portland. I happily talked to him about PDX bars and restaurants while tasting his creations after trying a listed cocktail, El Matador (bourbon, amontillado sherry, lemon, orange, Angostura bitters, soda water).
I enjoyed El Matador but I was ready to see what Charlie can do. He said he had some awesome strawberries and made me a New Orleans Buck (rum, orange juice, lemon juice, ginger beer) with the strawberries muddled in.
He introduced me to House Spirits‘ nicely spicy rum (Batch #17). I had wanted to go to the House Spirits open house last December when I was in PDX but never made it. I’m glad I was able to try it last week. House Spirits makes Aviation Gin and Krogstad Aquavit.
I love asking bartenders to make me bourbon drinks. Charlie made me a Preakness which I have had before (though I can’t recall exactly where). It’s bourbon, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, bitters and a lemon peel). The name comes from the Preakness horse derby (not as well known as the Kentucky derby though the Preakness is older).
Oh my goodness. We better have some mushroom pizza so we can keep drinking! Loved the bacon and onion marmalade.
It was now well past happy hour and with growing dismay, we knew we’d have to duck out into the pouring rain soon. We had one last drink, Charlie’s hot toddy. It definitely kept me warm the rest of the night.
819 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017