DTLA: Drinks at The Wolves
When you first walk into the Wolves, you wonder how long has this bar been here? Did they renovate an old space or what?
It turns out, they didn’t renovate a previously cool old space. Every bit of the place except the floors were brought in. I admired the stained glass and wondered was it Canadian. Were the big wooden front doors from Boston? I lost track of the decor provenances as the bartender pointed out more and more cool things about the bar.
And then the wonder extends to the drinks themselves. Touting their housemade liqueurs, amari, vermouths and bitters, The Wolves is elevating the cocktail experience. Other than the spirits and the fresh ingredients such as herbs and citrus, everything is made in house.
Eventually there will be an omakase experience upstairs but for now, you can choose a drink from a vast list that covers two pages. There are sections named:
- Delicate and Subtle
- Sophisticated and Complex
- Strong and Robust
- Old Fashioned as in old fashioned whiskey cocktails
Ingredients marked with an asterisk * below mean the item was housemade.
My friend tried the fig, goji and sake which you enjoy by sipping from the glass and then from the sake cup.. I didn’t get much of the hinoki wood fragrance but I didn’t spend much time with that drink. It’s under the delicate and subtle section.
Fig, Goji and Sake – Martin Miller’s gin, Shimizu No Mai sake, fig & berry vermouth*, goji liqueur*, lime, shiso, plum bitters, hinoki wood fragrance
I love the glassware at The Wolves. The Black Currant Scotch was served in a tall ornate etched glass coupe. My friend had her Lavender Rose in a regular champagne glass which looked a bit plain comparison.
I am always a bit wary of drinks with more than five ingredients but I was game to try things that looked appealing. I ordered the Black Currant Scotch because yes, I do like whisky but also black currant and Korean pear could be a good combo. It was definitely tasty with a slight hint of smoke from the Ardbeg.
My friend decided to go light with the Lavender Rose which appeared to be vermouth with a lot of floral notes including lavender, rose, hibiscus plus fruit including peach and cranberries.
Black Currant Scotch – Highland Park Magnus Scotch whisky, Ardbeg 10-year-old Scotch whisky, amaro*, black currant liqueur*, Korean pear vermouth*, lime, mint, seaweed bitters*
Lavender Rose – vermouth, lavender, rose, hibiscus, chamomile, peach, cranberries
For my next drink, I randomly opted for the Beets and Plums since I like both things and also tequila. I didn’t get much beet flavor from this drink. It’s under the strong and robust section so I expected a bit more of a flavor punch.
Beets and Plums – Cimarron reposado tequila, Plantation rum, fermented beets*, black currant liqueur*, fennel dry vermouth*, plum amaro*, aromatic bitters*, lemon twist
I returned to The Wolves this past weekend and tried a few more drinks. I still have to go back for the food.
The first time I was at The Wolves, I noticed everyone was getting a smoked cocktail. It turns out it was the bourbon cranberry with smoke. Eagle Rare bourbon is combined with the various housemade items including two liqueurs, vermouth and bitters with smoke from a port barrel. They pour the smoke into a drink decanter. And the idea is the smoke will slowly continue to infuse with the drink while you sip on your first pour. It was the fanciest side car I’ve seen.
Bourbon cranberry with smoke – Eagle Rare bourbon, orange liqueur*, cranberry liqueur*, sweet vermouth*, aromatic bitters*, port barrel smoke
Next we had the floral gin martini. Martinis can be a polarizing drink. Die hards will insist on gin only (you vodka marini drinkers out there are actually drinking “kangaroos” not martinis). But then there are the cries for those old throwback drinks that aren’t really martinis- apple, lemon drop, etc. I see this one as a sophisticated flavored gin martini featuring both a floral and fruity vermouths (housemade, of course). Then there’s the curve ball- the pork fat bitters. Luckily, it didn’t taste like bacon grease but instead gave a creamy mouthfeel.
Floral Gin Martini – Sipsmith gin, lavender rose vermouth*, Korean pear vermouth*, pork fat bitters*, cranberry bitters*, hinoki wood frangrance
And then we had our second (or was it our third?) night cap! I was back to the sophisticated and complex side of the menu. I was attracted to the rum, purple yams and grapefruit in this drink.
Clove Nectarine and Purple Yams – El Dorado rum, fermented purple yams*, clove nectarine liqueur*, grapefruit, toasted almond bitters*, ginger lemon bitters*
It would take a while to go through the menu. I am looking forward to when the top bar opens as an omakase bar and also to return for the food. I want to try the shrimp and grits.
The Wolves519 S Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013 — (213) 265-7952 © 2018 The Minty