Bar Crawling with The Minty: Happy Hour at Artisan House, The Lash & The Blind Donkey
I popped by the Artisan House for happy hour recently. After going a few times when it first opened, I found myself visiting other restaurants and bars nearby. And then of course, I realized I’ve never had a drink there and since I was in the neighborhood, I might as well try their happy hour (which ends at 6 so get there early). The backbar is now lined with artisinal, hand-crafted, small-batch spirits. Their new bar manager is into these gems.
I had their version of a Moscow Mule; the Steam Punk (Russian Standard gold vodka, Meyer lemon syrup, lime and ginger) served in the traditional cool copper mugs. It was refreshing and just what I needed after a terrible, terrible day. It went down so fast, I had another.
The fish tacos caught my eye right away and I also wanted the shishito peppers. But it turned out the peppers had been 86’d earlier so the bartender told us about the crab stuffed jalepeno poppers. I normally avoid such things covered in eel sauce but you know what? I’m having a bad day. Gimme.
I didn’t try the avocado roll but it looked tasty.
Damn. That bartender was right. These crab jalepeno poppers are delicious.
Later I was chatting with Zahra at Cole’s about the happy hour and she said liked the pizza from Artisan House happy hour menu. There you go, pre-shift meal.
I must have walked by The Lash a bunch of times in Downtown Los Angeles the last few months without noticing it. Then I saw something about a new bar and confirmed with a DTLA friend its whereabouts.
The building is painted a graphic black and white which is echoed indoors with wooden seating.
We found a couple of spaces at the small bar and took a look at the menu. Hm, my friend will have the Dark & Stormy and I’ll try this pineapple-Fernet thing.
The DJs were just setting up but the music is that pulsing club type that you had to be in the mood for. Or you can escape to the back patio when it’s warmer.
My friend said the Dark & Stormy was pretty standard though it contained Kracken rum (which I love) and shaved ginger. My Kingston Klub (Drambuie, Fernet-Branca, pineapple, Angostura bitters) was pretty weird. I should have known better since they misspelled Angostura. Ah well, the space is pretty cool. I probably could have done just a shot of Fernet and moved on.
Above the bar is a cool neon sign, “wish you were here” in Russian.(213) 687-7723
Over in Pasadena is the newish whiskey bar, The Blind Donkey. I had joked when they opened there shouldn’t be any more of these adjective + animal places. And they tweeted me how about a place called the Minty Fox. Okay, only if it’s called the Minty Fox.
I wanted to love this bar as I do love their sister bar, The Surly Goat. But that is a beer bar and I usually drink beer there. And I should have followed the same rule and done straight whiskey here.
Pasadena is home to one of my favorite bars, 1886 at the Raymond. They are currently closed for renovation so I had to pin my cocktailing hopes on the Donkey. All the cocktails I tried were slightly unbalanced. But what really got my
goat donkey was they would not make a regular Old Fashioned. They’ll make you their Butler’s Old Fashioned with jam. It’s fine, if a bit bitter. But sometimes you want just a regular old fashioned.
On my next visit, I stuck to just whiskey. Or I tried to. I saw they had some new cocktails on the list. I got suckered into try the Smoked Turkey (Wild Turkey bourbon 101, mezcal, lemon, Angostura bitters, orange bitters). I rarely send drinks back. I had to with this one. The bartender confessed everyone has sent back this drink and he wanted to warn me but I seemed like I wanted it. I said I love bourbon and mezcal and the ingredients seemed pretty straight-forward so why was this so awful? He shrugged and made me another drink. Please Blind Donkey, take this drink off the menu. Or add some sort of sweetner. It was way, way too citrusy.
The Nick of Thyme (Buffalo Trace bourbon, honey-thyme syrup, lemon, ginger beer) is one of the best selling cocktails at the Blind Donkey. The other one is the Moscow Mule. I saw so many of these two sold during the visits I made. I suppose you it’s a matter of bourbon vs vodka, lemon vs lime.
After my last night there, I decided I wanted to work through their whiskey list. I started out with my fave Welsh whisky, Penderyn. I can get through this list in a year if I tried a new one every day, right?
53 E Union St., Pasadena, CA 91103 — (626) 792-1833