DTLA: A Boozy Tribute to Jonathan Gold at Otium Now Until March 2019
Otium and Bar Director Chris Amirault and team have launched an ode to the late restaurant critic Jonathan Gold. The new menu of 14 drinks are based on Jonathan Gold’s writings and reviews of local favorites around town.
I was invited to check out some of the cocktails and I also tried a couple of things from the mid-day food menu.
When you first open the menu, you’ll see the drinks are categorized in a quadrant ranging from light to boozy. When Chris was first developing the drinks list, he read and re-read the reviews. The R&D process was fun and challenging but what became the sticking point for the restaurants Chris chose were the names of the drinks. In the end, calling the drink by the name of the restaurant was the best name of all. This menu is running until March 2019. At that point, there will be seasonal menus that will rotate in throughout the year– much like live theater. The menus are like plays that have a run of engagement.
For our first drink, I tried the Bazaar. For those who have gone to the restaurant, Jose Andres is known for his modern cuisine and techniques. There’s a famous drink that gets served with cotton candy. Chris decided to reverse it and inspired by his love of sherry daiquiries, he created a cocktail that uses the sugar of the cotton candy as the sweetening agent in the drink. And yes, he makes the banana flavored cotton candy in house (as shown above).
The Bazaar by José Andrés – Fino Sherry, Lime, Banana Floss, Almond Charcoal
Otium used to close between lunch and dinner so it’s very exciting now you can go during the mid-day for a snack or two. My friend and I chose the panisse, garbanzo bean fries, chicken oysters and the awesome cheeseburger.
The bar director at Providence restaurant is Kim Stodel. He is very passionate about zero waste and Chris was inspired by his recent talk to create a Gibson that uses up the onion scraps they had at Otium. The scraps are the skins and the first couple layers of the onion that is often discarded. This Gibson is also the best I’ve ever had.
Providence- Bombay Sapphire, Vermouth, Onion Caramel, Orange Bitters
You like fried chicken? Of course you do! Then you’ll really love the fried chicken oysters at Otium. The oyster is the best part and here you get a whole bowl of ’em.
Although I’ve been eating Sichuan food since I was a kid, the fervor for spicy, tingling food really hit a crescendo when restaurants like Chengdu Taste and Szechuan Impression opened in the San Gabriel Valley. And Jonathan Gold was there to tell people outside of the SGV about it. There was a special time in the early 2010s when everyone flocked to these restaurants. When Christ first tried to come up with a drink, he toyed with the idea of chili oil in a drink. But really no one wants that. Then he had Beijing Yogurt, a drink that folks have to calm their mouths when on fire from the spicy food.
The yogurt went well with tequila and matcha.
Chengdu Taste – Tequila, Szechuan Cucumber, Beijing Yogurt, Matcha, Lime
I always thought had worked at Rivera back in the day as he’s part of the Julian Cox school of cocktail making but he said he never did work at the now closed Rivera. But of course, everyone who went usually had one of two drinks there- the Barbacoa or the Blood Sugar Sex Magic. I personally loved the latter but a lot of people loved the Barbacoa. The Rivera drink calls back to those days of meaty, spicy and savory.
Rivera – Mezcal, Ancho Chile, Sunomono, Bell Pepper, Ginger, Lime
So this burger broke the internet. Or at least my instagram. The Otium burger is served with warm raclette spread over the burger. There’s no end of cheese and I just love it also comes with a huge cone of fries (I only put a few on the plate).
It’s simply delicious. And I wonder if JGold had a chance to have this burger before he passed. He night have written a few words that could inspire another drink. Inception!
Though there is a Otium drink on the menu. It’s Hibiki Harmony Japanese whisky, yuzu honey, lemon, almond and Japanese bitters. It sounds like a delicious cold toddy.
Funny enough I was just at Guelaguetza the evening before I tried the Guelaguetza drink at Otium. Any JGold-phile can tell you about the Oaxacan restaurant and its famous moles. And of course, the chapulines. Yes, the grasshoppers. But perhaps that would have been too obvious to include those in a drink inspired by the restaurant. And since we’re in the winter months now, perhaps something that calls to Mexican hot chocolate? And so the Guelaguetza drink was born.
You start with good chocolate and add flavors to it to get to that iconic Abuelita chocolate taste. Chris said he tried the other way — starting with the Abuelita chocolate– but it just didn’t work out well.
Guelaguetza – El Tesoro Otium Barrel Reposado, Smoked Chocolate, Burnt Toffee, Ancho Chile
Shamefully, I’ve never been to brunch at Salt’s Cure so I can’t speak of the oat cakes that inspired this drink. I can however imagine the rich, nutty taste as that’s what this drink is. It was my favorite of the six I tried.
Salt’s Cure – Woodford Reserve, Westward Am, Single Malt, Toasted Oats, Maple, Red Eye Bitters
I can’t wait to head back to the bar to try the other 8 drinks! Here they are:
- Little Sister- Sipsmith Gin, Bitter Suze, Barley Tea, Flower Wines & Pineapple
- Sotto- Braulio, Wild Turkey Rye, Lambrusco Cordial,Meyer Lemon, Clove, Mint
- Republique- Absolut Elyx, Singani 63, Lemon, Charred Pineapple, Blue Curacao, Celery Bitters
- Baroo- Woodford Rye, Aperol, Passionfruit Shrub, Salted Cacao
- Petit Trois- Casa Magdalena, Rhum Clement, Lime, Pineapple, Buttered Coconut, Brioche, Egg
- Otium- Hibiki Harmony, Lemon, Yuzu Honey, Almond, Japanese Bitters
- Copa D’Oro:-Teeling’s Irish Whisky, Cynar, Chivas 12yr, Dolin Blanc, Fleur de Sel
- Still Life– Remy Martin 1738, Italicus, Lemon Rose Cordial, Sparkling Torrontes
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