Santa Monica: Cocktails and Dinner at Native

Palisades Park Swizzle


I was recently invited to check out Native in Santa Monica. Native is helmed by Chef Nyesha Arrington and the bar is run by Adam Flamenbaum. The four of us ordered a number of drinks and food at the bar. Native was very busy that night which was a Tuesday. I loved that the neighborhood has embraced it.

A fun opening drink for the night would be the Palisades Park Swizzle. I thought it was really cool to see the list featured a lot of local spirits including LA’s very own Lost Spirits as well as Amaro Angeleno.

Palisades Park Swizzle – Lost Spirits rum, Rhum JM blanc, Amaro Angeleno, Cappeletti aperitivo, sugar, lime, mint

Sonora wheat bread with carrot cardamon butter

We were told we couldn’t miss the bread with carrot cardamon butter. I normally try to avoid all things carrots but this actually added a nice sweetness to the butter. Luckily my hatred of the orange root veggie was offset by my love of cardamon.

Local Treasure


Another local-ish spirit, Wilder gin, is featured in the Local Treasure — a very apt name! I thought this drink was a nice alternative between a Negroni and an Aperol Spritz.

Local Treasure – Ventura Spirits Wilder gin, Campari, Sauvignon Blanc syrup, Dolin blanc vermouth, lemon

bison tartare


I was really into the grass-fed bison tartare. The listed Aisoon sauce is actually named after Chef Nyesha’s grandmother. Don’t forget to mix it all up including the Maui onion with a little dab of Korean mustard for a kick.

Little Italy in Mexico

I ordered the Little Italy in Mexico because I thought perhaps it was a Little Italy variation (which is already a Manhattan variation). As it turns out, it’s actually more because of the Italian liqueur Strega combined with tequila and helped out by pisco.

Little Italy in Mexico – Angelisco blanco tequila, Capurro torentel pisco, Strega liqueur, pineapple gomme, lime

Spanish octopus

I’m glad to see octopus is still having a moment. I order it almost every time I see it and I was intrigued by Native’s version with the green sauce and yogurt.

Circle of Friends

One of my favorite drinks of the night was the Circle of Friends. I didn’t think it was possible all these strongly flavored spirits including the aquavit, tree sap liqueur and kummel could meld together but it did along with the gin and vermouth. It is like a really good dirty martini.

Circle of Friends – St. George dry rye gin, Venus Spirits aquavit, Skinos Mastiha liqueur, Helbing kummel, Dolin blanc vermouth

chestnut spaghetti


We also got the chestnut spaghetti to go with our meal. I loved that it had shitake mushrooms and a mess of pea sprouts on top. This would make a good vegetarian entree as well.

Grain of Sand on the Beach

There were a couple of bourbon drinks and I chose the Grain of the Sand on the Beach because I can never pass up drinks with Averna. Remember how I thought I was getting a Manhattan variation earlier? Well, this is the Manhattan variation should order.

Grain of Sand on the Beach – Elijah Craig bourbon, Christian Bros Sacred Bond brandy, Kronan Swedish Punsch, Amaro Averna

Kurobuta pork chop


My favorite dish was the Kurobuta pork chop with a gochujang glaze. I also got this dish because it came with Abruzzi rye porridge (underneath the pork). The pork was so juicy with a great sauce.

Big Surprise


Probably the most instagram-able drink is the Big Surprise. It’s just so colorful and beautiful. Good thing is is also very tasty. I had a chance to taste the Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz gin on its own as well. I found it very interesting this and other drinks had some wine influence including the Local Treasure with Sauvignon Blanc syrup and now the Big Surprise with port. I found out it’s because Beverage Director Adam has a wine background.

Big Surprise – Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz gin, creme de cacao, all spice dram, Six Grapes port, pepper cherry, lemon

melting leeks

The melting leeks were a great side and went well with the chestnut spaghetti and pork chop.

“beef and broccoli”


One of the favorite dishes of the restaurant is the “beef and broccoli” which is broccolini with Hoisin bone marrow vinaigrette.

Flying V

I really enjoyed the Flying V. I thought it was so interesting the Green Chartreuse was paired (tripled?) with three fortified wines/ vermouths. It’s a wonderful low-ABV alternative.

Flying V – Green Chartreuse, Byrrh Grand Quinquina, Antica Torrino vermouth, Dolin blanc vermouth



For dessert, we were recommended the chocolate. This was like a crepe filled with a lot of chocolate. It made me think I needed red wine to complete our girls’ night out. Or just another bite of chocolate will do.

Next time I’d like to try the lamb meatballs, duck breast, rolled short ribs dumplings and ribeye. The crushed rutabaga with injera bread also sounded fun.


620 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401  —  (310) 458-4427
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