Koreatown: Almost All the Cocktails at Pot Bar at the Line Hotel
The Lobby bar affectionately known as the Pot bar was the first Roy Choi spot to open at the new Line Hotel in Koreatown. I heard about Roy opening a restaurant at the Line about a year ago but never quite imagined it also included a bar and a cafe which just opened. The Pot restaurant is opening officially next Tuesday (review coming soon!).
In the meantime, I have tried almost all the drinks on the Pot bar list. The cocktails are from Matthew Biancaniello who is best known for his garden to glass drinks at the Roosevelt’s Library Bar in Hollywood. He has popped up at several spots around town including Cliff’s Edge and now does consulting for bars.
For the Lobby bar, Matt re-imagined several “classics” like White Russian, Long Island Iced Tea, Singapore Sling and more. He didn’t just use better liquor but it was almost as if he re-engineered the drink but still kept that fun quirky vibe.
The White Russian was my favorite of these drinks. The creamy thick Kahlua foam was pretty amazing. I’m certain the Dude would approve.
While other bars are putting old fashioneds and Moscow Mules on tap, Pot bar put the Long Island Iced Tea on tap. Bold move. Don’t be surprised by the fruity spheres in it. It’s a drink that’s been enthusiastically changed to something better and not just a way to get you sloshed.
As expected, the Singapore Sling was also different from the “classic.” I’m slightly more familiar with this drink of the others I tried and yet I couldn’t quite say how different it was. It was like the others, delicious. And the pineapple leaf is quite the garnish. Everyone loves a pretty drink.
One night I saw Matt was at the bar for a private party. He whipped up some off-menu items like Jalepeno but also served the Tom Collins from the drinks list. I also got to try the Drunken Crane bitters, many of which are in the various Pot bar drinks. I was particularly enamored with the Clam Chowder bitters which tasted like pure clams and cream. It was not like Old Bay seasoning. Michael from the Drunken Crane did an excellent job with these bitters.
Drinkers are most familiar with Tom Collins but did you know there are other variations like a Charlie Collins? It’s a collins with rum. Actually, the original drink was called a John Collins but when it was made with old tom gin, it started to be better known as a Tom Collins. Pot bar has a nice version (note it’s normally served in a collins glass but this was from a private party and bartenders scrambled to use whatever clean glassware was available).
Then we moved on to Matt’s original drinks. I’ve had versions of some of these before including the Arugula (see the recipe here, aka the Roquette). This was one of the favored drinks of the night. If you like refreshing drinks, get the Arugula.
Arugula – Cap Rock gin, wild arugula
For years I’ve yeared to try Matt’s Mushroom bourbon drink. Originally he made this drink with candy cap mushrooms which I think would have made the drink sweeter. For Pot, they use shitake which was very earthy. I could see this going very well with food.
Mushroom – Elijiah Craig 12-year bourbon, Cynar, shitake, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
The Uni is not vegetarian/vegan friendly but it’s great for uni (sea urchin) lovers. Those uni enthusiasts s probably would love just liquified uni but it’s slightly more complicated with sous-vide uni then shaken with cumin simple syrup, lemon and tequila. I loved the nori (seaweed) garnish.
Uni – 123 Tequila Reposado, nori, cumin
One of the favorites of the group was the Walnut. Benedictine is one of my favorite liqueurs and the drink turned out to be creamy with a bit of spice.
Walnut – Benedictine, walnut oil, cacao nibs, lemon
Anchor Distilling describes their Hophead vodka closer to an eau di vie of hops but for legal reasons, they called it a vodka. Either way, this is one of the vodkas I like when I’m not drinking my usual whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, well, you get the point. With a choice of either carrot or sweet potato, this drink balances the line between “masculine” and “feminine” drinks. I’ve tried it both with sweet potato and carrot and preferred it with sweet potato. Probably because I’m not Bugs Bunny though.
Hops – Hophead vodka, sweet potato
The are also a section of drinks that seemingly seem to be infused soju drinks. If you’ve ever been to Ktown for karaoke (noraebang in Korean), then you might be thinking of soju with a squeeze of lemon or mixed with yogurt. No, of course these drinks at Pot bar aren’t that. These are next level. Pot bar offers natto, fermented soybeans the Japanese love and others need some getting used to. I knew we had to try this one just because. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. Maybe I’ll be more inclined to eat natto straight… nah. But I’ll happily drink a Natto soju cocktail.
The most savory of the soju drinks was the Curry. I have a love/ hate relationship with curry. Sometimes (most times), I love it. But then I get turned off by the armpit smell (aka cumin). The Curry throws me into a sensory loop. Do I love it? Yes. Do I hate the smell? Maybe. Will I drink it again? Maaaaaaybe. But why do I gotta when I have my absolute favorite? The Kimchi!
See, I wasn’t going to try the soju drinks as first because I did think they were just soju + (oddball/wacky?) mixer. But I should have know better. I asked Matt about the Kimchi because I very curious about the process.
Here’s Matt’s recipe for the Kimchi Soju.
- 2 oz kimchi infused into soju (infuse for 5 days)
- 3/4 oz lemon
- 3/4 oz agave
- 1 oz egg whites
- 1/2 barspoon of garlic tincture (1 cup of Boyd and Blair 151 potato vodka muddled with three garlic cloves, set aside for 5 days)
- Pinch of Hepps ghost pepper salt
- 5 dashes of Drunken Crane Durian bitters
Put everything in a shaker except the salt and bitters. Dry shake or whip the ingredients. Then add ice and shake and strain into a coup without ice. Sprinkle pinch of salt on top and scatter bitters on top as well.
Ahhhh! It’s a sour! Look at that egg white! I love sours and this was #1 in my book.
There are 6 drinks I haven’t tried yet from the menu (I know, I know — I’m way behind) so I’ll have to taste those soon when I hit up Pot Cafe for its beautiful pastries and savory items like Sloppy Joe French bread pizza!
© The Minty 2014