Chinatown: Cocktails at General Lee’s
General Lee’s bar is now open in Chinatown. It took over the old Mountain Bar space , which funny enough took over the old General Lee’s Man Jen Low restaurant space. What is new is old again. The bar, which remains in the hands of the original family, has been updated and it feels more welcoming.
If the drinks weren’t good, the “Asian” drinks names would make me cringe. There are some slightly Asian-ized drinks like the Blood and Sang (not a typo) and Beijing Buck. There are also some very interesting original cocktails by lead barman Garrett Mikkel (formerly The Eveleigh, LeKa).
Garrett not only runs the bar but brings enthusiasm for the neighborhood into his mixed drinks creations. He told me he found some “blooming” flowers teas that he’s thinking about making a drink with. I’d love to see that– Exotic Blossom Tea Toddy, anyone? Just kidding on the name, I made that up.
For a cool take on rum and Green Chartreuse, I tried the China Beach. It was served long over ice but Garrett must have heard me talking about liking drinks up because it’s been improved.
China Beach – white rum, pineapple gomme, Green Chartreuse
Garrett was working on Green Chartreuse candy for the garnish when I first tried the drink. It is now served up and rimmed with the crushed Green Chartreuse candy he’s made.
China Beach is basically a great daiquiri-style drink.
The Sang in the Blood and Sang comes from the Lapsang tincture. It is a take on the Blood and Sand. This drink treads the fine line of you either love it or hate it since orange juice in cocktails can be polarizing. Fortunately, I liked it.
Blood and Sang – Scotch, Cherry Herring, sweet vermouth, orange, Lapsang tincture
And easy sipper would be the Green Honeysuckle Sling. General Lee’s allowed people to bring in food from Via Cafe next door so this would be my drink of choice to go with a meal.
Green Honeysuckle Sling – reposado tequila, honey, kaffir lime, vanilla bitters, green tea soda
When I spotted the Nim Jiom Pei Pa Koa syrup on the bar top, I was instantly transported to my childhood. It’s Chinese cough syrup and Garrett has created a Chinese Sizzurp! Nim Jiom which is honey and loquat flavored claims to be 100% natural. It was surprisingly tasty in a drink. Just think of it as a honey-loquat syrup and you’re good to go.
Nim Jiom Sour – rye, Nim Jiom syrup, lemon, egg white, aromatic bitters
My friend tried the Green Tea Gimlet and proclaimed it to be an alcoholic lemonade. It’d be a good drink to toss back while dancing.
Green Tea Gimlet – vodka, green tea cordial
A great drink to have while having a conversation would be the General 75. The gin has been infused with jamica (hibiscus) and is slightly tart. My friend that normally drinks wine enjoyed this drink quite a bit.
General 75 – jamaica-infused gin, lavender, sparkling wine, lemon
It is probably no surprise to anyone that one of my favorites was the General Lee’s Mistress which Garrett described to be like a Boulevardier but with Averna. I thought of it as a Manhattan variation. He makes the triple citrus tincture which is incorporated into the drink. It doesn’t make it juicy but rather adds a nice touch of citrus oil.
I also tried the Yat Sen Old Fashioned (pictured above) which was very well done and very complex with spice.
General Lee’s Mistress – rye, Averna, Noilly rouge vermouth, triple citrus tincture
Yat Sen Old Fashioned – bourbon, reishi gomme, cinnamon and Sichuan tincture
The upstairs lounge should be opening soon. It looks like it’ll be a comfy spot to hang. In the meantime, I enjoyed hanging out at the bar. It’s a great spot to hit up after dinner at Starry Kitchen, New Dragon or all the other spots in Chinatown.
475 Ging Ling Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90012 —
© The Minty 2014