Venice: Return to The Tasting Kitchen

Justin Pike

Justin Pike at The Tasting Kitchen


Remember back in 2011 when Justin Pike was named LA’s Best Bartender? There wasn’t a contest last year and I’m not aware of one this year so possibly Mr. Pike is LA’s Best Bartender forever. I recently returned to The Tasting Kitchen since I was in Venice and was happy to see Justin still behind the stick there. I lament when my favorite hot bartenders leave for other gigs and the bar is never the same again. Never fear, The Tasting Kitchen is still wonderful.


Looking over the list, the Three-Hour Tour caught my eye mainly because I am a huge Gilligan’s Island fan and also I like Calisaya, a bitter orange liqueur made in the style of Campari. It was a great night and I enjoyed learning about the housemade liqueurs like the housemade aquavit made by another bartender John. Pretty soon we had to order the addicting fries.

Three-Hour Tour – Plymouth gin, Calisaya, Montenegro


Caribbean Hangover


There’s a secret menu at The Tasting Kitchen. Ask for the postcard menu and you’ll find several cocktails that’s different from the main cocktail list. I got to taste the Paper Mache (mezcal, pastis, lime) and the smokey licorice cocktail was like a one-two punch. I don’t know if it’s a good starter or “one last drink.” So, let’s make this an anytime cocktail.

My friend got the Caribbean Hangover which was very refreshing. Although the evenings are getting cooler, the rum will keep you warm.


Caribbean Hangover – El Dorado rum, ginger soda, falernum


Underberg truck

Underberg truck


Apparently TTK is one of Underberg’s best accounts. They use quite a bit of the Underberg in cocktails as well as a digestif. The front of their Underberg truck actually is personalized with TTK’s name.


Islands in the Stream

The cocktails sound deceptively simple but often there may be a special unnamed ingredient such as Islands in the Stream from the secret postcard menu. It features the housemade aquavit but is not named. However, the Dream Team cocktail (aquavit, Chartreuse, beer) does list it but I wonder what wasn’t named. It’s magical though, it makes you really taste your cocktail over and over again trying to figure out what else there could be. Islands by the way was to continue my Giligan’s Island theme for the night.

Islands in the Stream – gin, lime, kiwi, cucumber

Members Only

Member’s Only


I’m always up for a Fernet cocktail and the Member’s Only was great. Rum always works so well with lime and the Fernet adds another dimension to the cocktail.

Member’s Only – Rum, lime, Fernet, mint


* A side note, the bartenders at TTK wear cool vests and very proper bartender attire. I managed to catch Justin at the end of his shift when he slipped into his Bartender + Negroni = Tenderoni shirt. Neither of us knew the slang and I just had assumed it had something to do with the Tenderloin area in SF. Turns out it’s about jailbait. Ah. Well, he is LA’s best bartender. Forever.


The Tasting Kitchen

1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291  —  (310) 392-6644
© The Minty  2013