Monday, January 4, 2010

Over The Hill

In honor of my (hopefully) impending move to the Valley, I decided to do a rundown of its watering holes, a couple of which I have visited, most of which I intend to shortly.  Sadly, there is a dearth of cocktail-focused bars, and a plethora of dives and Irish or English pubs, but here is a list of some of some of the best/most interesting the Valley has to offer:

Laurel Tavern – Crowded and sceney gastropub, but super convenient as it’s right over Laurel Canyon, plus there’s not really any other bars in the vicinity.  I haven’t had the food, although it looks yummy, and they have a great selection of beers and a good selection of quality liquor – I got a very generous shot of Bookers for $9!

Tonga Hut Tiki Lounge– LA’s oldest tiki bar, open since 1958.  After years of neglect when it became a defacto dive bar, new owners took over a few years ago and they refurbished it, returning it to its original kitschy tiki-ness.  It will definitely be my first stop on my Valley tour!

Bar One – A step up from a dive bar, it’s more a simple neighborhood bar full of locals, with cheap strong drinks and a relaxed vibe.  Plus, their happy hour runs from 7-9pm (which means I can actually take advantage of it after work!)

Sardo’s –Tuesday night is Porn Star Karaoke night.  ‘Nuff said.

The Fifth – Owned by the same people who own The Well and The Woods (and also NoBar in North Hollywood).  It’s another neighborhoody bar/lounge with cheap drinks and a laid back vibe (although weekends can get pretty busy).

Los Toros – If you ever happen to venture out to the far northwestern reaches of the Valley (aka Chatsworth) and are craving cheap Mexican food and tequila, this is your place.  It’s quite an experience – think El Coyote on steroids.  The space is huge, like a block long, with many many rooms, and a couple different bars.  The people watching is amazing – there was a couple having their wedding celebration with family, there were guys in cowboy hats, there were cholas galore, and there were quite a few old leering men too. I was with a group so I felt pretty safe (although my friends told me that fights are not unheard of).  There was also a good selection of tequilas – they even had Partida, and it was cheap – so that was a bonus! 

There’s also a huge amount of English and Irish pubs in virtually every part of the Valley, including The Fox & Hounds in Studio City, Timmy Nolan’s in Toluca Lake, The Robin Hood Pub in Sherman Oaks (great pot pies, btw), and The White Harte in Woodland Hills, among others.

Hopefully this will get you started in the Valley until one of our cocktail brethren (by which I don’t mean males per se, I just didn’t know what the female version is – sistren?) decides to open a serious cocktail bar there.  Happy drinking!

By Hot Toddy (aka Rebecca)

Laurel Tavern: 11938 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604, (818) 506-0777,
Tonga Hut Tiki Lounge: 12808 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91606, (818) 769-0708,
Bar One: 12518 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91607, (818) 509-1938 ,
Sardo’s: 259 N Pass Ave., Burbank, CA 91505, (818) 846-8126,
The Fifth: 4821 Whitsett Ave., Valley Village, CA 91607, (818) 753-8297,
Los Toros: 21743 Devonshire St., Chatsworth, CA 91311, (818) 882-3080,

Monday, December 7, 2009

iPhone Applications for the Serious Drinker

Drinking iPhone Apps for the Serious Drinker

There really is an iPhone app for everything. And here is a quick and dirty list of those that cocktail fans and boozers will love. These make it easy to locate the best local drink specials, search for your favorite cocktail recipes and keep track of your liquor cabinet's inventory.

DrinkTracker ($1.99):This little app is a handy way to keep track of how many drinks you've had and how long it'll take to reach legal BAC. Only thing is that the more you drink the harder it is to remember to input your cocktails. Also there is no database for cocktails. You can add a new drink to the list but you’d have to know how many ounces it has as well as what percent alcohol.

Flip N Drink ($1.99): This special cocktail application features recipes from renowned mixologists, like Ryan Magarian (who created Westside Tavern’s cocktail menu). It also offers some cocktail history, drool-inducing cocktail photos and suggestions of other cocktails you might like.

Happy Houred (Free): This app is easy to use and finds some of the best drinking specials in cities across the U.S., L.A. included. What’s not to love? You can search by location, type of bar, type of drink, day and even time of day in addition to name.

iWhiskey ($10.99): This is great for when you’re at a cool bar that has a huge variety of whiskey or if you’re lost in the whiskey aisle at Wally’s Wine & Spirits. This app features 600 reviews by Paul Pacult (founder of Beverage Alcohol Resource) on different brands of the brown spirit — from American, Irish, etc. to most expensive and five stars. It has purty pictures of cocktails which you can tap once to flip over and get the recipe of.

Miss Trivia! Miss Charming's iPhone Drink Trivia ($2.99): This little iPhone game app teaches you about the wonderful world of drinking via a fun trivia game. You can play this alone or pass it around to two to three of your friends at a bar or party. The player with the highest bar tab wins. Sample question: Who supposedly filled a tub with Champagne and took a bath in the 1950s? Answer below.*

Mixologist ($0.99): Beginner drinkers will appreciate this app which not only has a searchable drink database of over 7,900 different drinks where you can look them up by name, category or ingredient but you can find the nearest liquor store and you can use the Cabinet feature to keep track of what you have at home. There's even a randomizer feature where you can select a spirit and/or a mixer and/or a glass type, click the "Mix it up" button and the app will come up with a cocktail meeting those factors.

By Vesper aka Caroline on Crack

Name: Caroline on Crack
Cocktail alias: Vesper
Where I live: Westchester, California
Hometown: Sacramento
Day job: L.A. lifestyle blogger
Favorite "go-to" cocktail: Manhattan or bourbon with ginger beer/ginger ale
Favorite spirit: Macallan 12
First drink I ever had: White Russian

*Answer to trivia game: Marilyn Monroe

Sunday, December 6, 2009

dark & stormy

Name: Kylee Van Dillen

Cocktail Alias: Dark and Stormy

Where I live: Los Angeles, CA

Hometown: A quaint little suburb in northern NJ

Day Job(s): Professional procrastinator. Writer/comedienne/actor/ bartender/mixologist/person you call when you need a ride to the airport

Favorite "go-to" drink: A simple pleasure.  You take 3 oz. of the best single malt Scotch you can get your hands on (Highland/Speyside) and add a handful of ice, and serve in a sturdy glass. It can be in a rocks glass, a wine glass or a sippy cup—it tastes delightful when drank from any vessel  (I know this both from experience as well as optimistic speculation)

Favorite Spirit: Scotch!

First drink I ever had: My mother swears she let me have Heineken when I was two years old, but from my own memory....Goldschlager. Age 14. Left home alone. My best friend and I were being rebellious and decided we should “learn” how to drink alcohol. I gagged, she spit hers out, and we spent the rest of the afternoon scrubbing gold leaf that got conspicuously stuck in the grout of my kitchen counter.

First cocktail I made, first bartending shift: I want to say a cosmopolitan. Roses lime, triple sec, cranberry from a gun and way to much vodka.

My "coming to Jesus" cocktail: Manhattan made with Basil Hayden Bourbon. I drank 2, because that’s what I thought Jesus would do.

Childhood Memories: Pink wine, hot buttered rum, gluwein, zima (and all the caps I saved for a reason that escapes my memory) peppermint schnapps smuggled in a water bottle, and jagermeister. Ooh and the worst hangover to date, white wine at my godmother’s wedding in germany. The germans like the never-ending glass which looks like you’ve only been sipping the same first glass, but in reality they’ve refilled it 8 times without you noticing.  

Cocktail POV: Make it delicious. Use fresh ingredients, quality spirits, and experiment. Don’t hold back when trying new flavor pairings, one mistake might lead to something delicious and at the end of the day—that’s what its all about. Creating memorable and yummy drinks that you (or your audience) enjoys.

Most stressful moment behind the bar: Just one? All the new years’ eves I’ve worked would be the obvious answer—guests antsy, horny, drunk, belligerent and loud as all hell….but sometimes the true stress shows up on an arbitrary Wednesday with a few difficult guests, glass broken in a well needing to be burned, wine foils leaving thin cuts on hands that are quickly using lemons again, and 500 mojitos with 400 modifications can all make things seem overwhelming…but sometimes the stressful moments are best remedied with a personal shot of tequila and smiling through the pain.  

Best Moment behind the bar: not sure, was probably too tipsy to remember! J

Monday, November 30, 2009

Feeling Punchy?

Feeling the holiday spirit this year? Want to win $500 for your magical, awesome original punch recipe? Today is the last day to enter and Malo Cantina's 'Twas the Punch Before Christmas live contest, sponsored by Kraken Black Spiced Rum.

If you have a recipe to enter, you must email it to contests [at] rumdood [dot] com or rhachel [at] sbcglobal [dot] net by midnight tonight. All submissions need to comply with the rules listed below:

  • Punches must be original recipes containing citrus, spice, spirits, sugar, and some sort of “weak.” I know, basic punchology 101 stuff. A quick note: even though Rumdood and Kraken Rum are sponsoring the shindig your punch does NOT need to include rum. Use tequila, whiskey, gin, mezcal, sherry…go wild!
  • Punch recipes must be submitted by 11:59:59 PM on November 30, 2009.  Recipes should be submitted to either contests [at] rumdood [dot] com or rhachel [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.
  • Contestants or a representative must be able to attend a live competition at Malo Cantina on the evening of December 10th. If you cannot attend, you can have a friend or colleague represent you at the event, but someone has to be there to serve your punch.
  • The top six submitted punch recipes will be selected by Rhachel Shaw of Malo (a member of LUPEC LA) and Matt Robold of to participate in the live punch party/contest at Malo on December 10, 2009.  Malo will provide punch bowls, ice, and any ingredients needed other than homemade ingredients and rare liqueurs (though they will work with you on those to the best of their ability).
  • Contestants will be competing for the prizes of “Most Popular Punch” – voted on by all attendees – as well as “Judges’ Favorite” – voted on by a panel of judges including Rumdood and other cocktail writers, local bartenders and cocktail celebrities.
  • The winner of the “Most Popular Punch” will be awarded $150.
  • The winner of the “Judges’ Favorite Punch” will be awarded $500.
  • Punches will be judged on taste, originality, and presentation.
If you're not a punchy sort of person, you can buy a ticket to the live party at Malo on December 10th where attendees will taste the six selected punches and enjoy some nibbles and music for the reasonable price of $12. Tickets are available for purchase at Malo Cantina (4326 W. Sunset Blvd. Silverlake) and Barkeeper (3910 W. Sunset Blvd., Silverlake).

Time is running out, so make some punch or buy a ticket to support your local bartenders, cocktail nerds, cocktail establishments and, of course, the Ladies of LUPEC Los Angeles!

(aka Marleigh from SLOSHED!)

Monday, November 23, 2009


Every year around this time I get asked for some "Thanksgiving Cocktails" and I have to say, it's one of my favorite holidays for there are so many different directions to go and so many different ingredients to use ranging from cranberries to oranges to spices to persimmons to apples.

While I usually mix up something new every holiday (yes, being a mixologist relegates me to always being the one to "bring the alcohol"), we always make a "Crantopia Martini" before dinner, as people are showing up. (You know, because it's bad luck to be empty-handed in our household.) The drink is actually a combo effort between my sister-in-law and myself. When my husband & I were first married, we had Thanksgiving over at his family's house. His sister made this amazing cranberry sauce and I was inspired to make a cocktail out of it. A typical Thanksgiving cranberry sauce is actually more of a compote made with sauted, sweetened cranberries and a number of different ingredients. Below is a recipe for a cranberry compote and our traditional Crantopia Martini. But, if you have your own recipe, feel free to use in the martini recipe.

Orange Spice Cranberry Compote
2 cups whole cranberries
peel of one orange
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup simple syrup
2 dashes ground cinnamon
2 oz Grand Marnier

Saute the ingredients together until the cranberries soften. Continuously scrape the sides. Pour contents into a bowl and let cool. Serve with turkey and/or use for the Crantopia Martini

Crantopia Martini
2 Tablespoons cranberry compote
1.5 oz orange vodka (I like Belvedere Orange and Stoli Oranj)
0.5 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz simple syrup (may need to adjust depending on how sweet your compote is)
rosemary sprig, for garnish

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a chilled martini glass or even tall shot glasses. Garnish with rosemary sprig.




Name: Kim Haasarud
Cocktail Alias: Julep

Where I live: Manhattan Beach, CA

Hometown: Dallas, TX. Also lived in Kansas City and NYC.

Day Job: Mixologist / Beverage Consultant (Liquid Architecture) and cocktail book author (101 cocktail series.)

Favorite "go-to" cocktail: Margarita ... and by Margarita I mean a real one with real lime juice ... not made with that neon-green nastiness out of a gun ... don't get me started ;-)

Favorite Spirit: Del Maguey Tobala mezcal
First drink I ever had: Bartles & James wildberry wine cooler (totally dating myself)

First drink I ever made behind the bar: Funky Cold Medina (ok, so now I'm totally dating myself) - this was before I knew anything about cocktails ...

My "coming to Jesus" cocktail: Hemingway Daiquiri

Childhood Memories: Sneaking nips of my parents' Baileys in the liquor cabinet.

Cocktail POV: Using fresh, seasonal ingredients as a base - I frequent the farmer's market and build cocktails around the ingredients.
Most stressful moment behind the bar: Working in Times Square on New Year's Eve, 15 people deep, and having a guy throw up at the bar.

Best Moment behind the bar: There have been so many, but one great high for me is when I train bartenders across the country and seeing the light bulb go on -- their "ah-ha" moment when they realize that with better ingredients and techniques they can go from making an ordinary cocktail to making an extraordinary one. I love that!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Welcome to L.U.P.E.C. LA!

Hello and welcome to the cocktail chicks of Los Angeles, otherwise known as LUPEC LA!

First off, what the heck is "LUPEC," you wonder? Its an acronym which stands for "Ladies United in the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails." Yep, pretty cool. We are the Los Angeles chapter.

LUPEC began in Philly in, like 2001, by some cool lady cocktail nerds... which is a complimentary term if you dwell in the world of mixology. The organization is one part feminist, one part philanthropic, and the rest is cocktailian fun. The LUPEC concept has traveled around the US and beyond with chapters all over the place - Boston seemingly the most active one. (Hopefully we will be a cross country rival for those gals' enthusiasm for the quality drink!)

Check back to meet the LUPEC LA ladies as we take turns posting on this blog and tell you about ourselves - and most important - the endangered cocktails we are thrilled to drink, or rather, "preserve."

Natalie Bovis-Nelsen, aka: The Liquid Muse
President, LUPEC LA