Los Feliz: You’ll Need All the Drinks at Big Bar
Big Bar at the Alcove Cafe and Bakery welcomed Aaron Alvarez (Rivabella, Soho House West, etc) as their new bar manager a few months ago. He’s been keeping up the high standards his predecessor Dan Long held. The current menu is Dan’s but be on the look out for Aaron’s and the rest of the team’s drinks soon.
In the meantime, here are all the current drinks. Last year I tried all the drinks on the menu and I had to maintain my personal record (I advise you to get a DD — whether its name is Metro or not).
We started with the very first drink on the menu, El Gusto. It reminds me of a Michelada with the beer and spices. The mezcal gives it a great kick. I highly recommend this for brunch. Or perhaps happy hour.
El Gusto – Mezcal, mandarina, pomegranate, lime, cerveza, espicey
All that drinkin’ makes a cocktail writer hungry so we also sampled some of the newer menu items including the vegan sliders. Oh shush you hardcore meat eaters. These were great and I liked the avocado topping. These actually went very well with the El Gusto drink.
Staying in that same light and refreshing vein, we have the Lambretta No. 2. Instead of sparkling wine or champagne, I liked that this Campari-based drink was topped with tonic water. It made the drink fizzy without dominating the delicate Lillet rose also in the drink.
Lambretta No. 2 – Campari, Lillet rose, lemon, tonic, mint.
All right, we got the meat eaters back with the bacon gravy poutine. What I love about Big Bar are the enormous portions of the “sides.” These can be shared with you and the whole bar. All right, maybe just you and your drinkin’ buddies. Who likes sharing anyway?
The lamb skewers were super juicy and went so well with the more aromatic drinks. Plus I enjoyed the potatoes it came with.
Lady Lion Tamer was one of the awesome drinks I had during Valentine’s Day when Big Bar held their annual prom. I’m glad to see it on the regular menu.
Lady Lion Tamer – Jameson Black Barrel, Bercherovka, milk thistle honey, orange oil.
If there’s a drink I’d get over and over again, it’d be the Cockney Sparrow. It’s a great drink to have before a meal as it’ll help open up your appetite. Although it’s a gin drink, the champagne keeps it light and the rose tea is just lovely.
Cockney Sparrow – Beefeater 24 gin, rose tea, lemon, cucumber, champagne
Our group went crazy over the steak and portobello mushroom skewers. These babies are super tender and perfect to snack on at the bar.
There’s a trend towards improving 70s-90s drinks with better booze. Big Bar’s take on an Alabama Slammer is a good one with fresh juice. It’s not too sweet and a fun patio drink. Luckily Big Bar has a nice patio.
Alabama Slammer Fizz – Rock N Rye, amaretto, sloe gin, orange juice
Sino tequila is interesting as it’s aged in Irish whiskey casks imparting a sweet edge to the tequila. Adding to the Dos Semantes, the cocktail oozes sexy spice with the ancho chili-liqueur Ancho Reyes. To further amp the flavor profile, add in the Italian cardoon amaro, Cardamaro. Spanish brandy gives it even more backbone. It’s not a cocktail to be ignored.
Dos Semantes – Sino tequila, Spanish brandy, Cardamaro, Ancho Reyes
Recently I talked about various pina coladas around town. But let’s not ignore the long-time island favorite, the daiquiri! Big Bar makes a banana flavored one that doesn’t scream frozen daiquiri machine. It’s really nice and I’d call it my dessert drink.
Banaquiri – aged island rum, banana 2 ways, lime
Are horse race drinks appropriate year-round? If they were (and even if they’re not), get the Kentucky Belle. It’s like a classic julep but with extra minty flavor from the aloe liqueur Chareau. Eyeball that pretty silver julep cup, won’t you?
Kentucky Belle – 10-year Kentucky bourbon, Chareau, lime, ginger, mint
Back to island time, head over to Don’s Treehouse with its “secret” blend of rums. It’s a bit mai tai in flavor profile but with a different citrus twist. I love the grapefruit in it but grapefruit is my favorite citrus.
Don’s Treehouse – secret blend of rums, lime, almond, vanilla, grapefruit
Another great patio drink would be the Sun King. Right after my crush with the grapefruit in Don’s Treehouse, my citrus love has become a full-fledged love affair. This apertif is another great pre-dinner or brunch drink.
The Sun King – Kina L’Avion, gentian, grapefruit, lemon, spritz
I would call the Mo-Chi-Chi a neo-tiki drink and quite modern as well with the addition of Amontillado sherry. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with tropical/tiki drinks because they’re so sweet but this one is a winner because the sherry keeps it relatively “dry.”
Mo-Chi-Chi – real coconut infusion, pineapple, lime, Amontillado sherry, crushed ice
Now get yourself a driver and try them all yourself!
© The Minty 2014