Cocktail Marathon: Food Marathon and Caroline on Crack Blog Mashup

Blogger Food Marathon had an excellent idea for a blog post series: Do a mash-up of his blog and another food blog, meaning go on a food marathon of, I guess, that featured blogger’s favorite places and write about it. In any case, since my deal is cocktails naturally we’d do a bar marathon of my favorite bars, i.e. the best mixologists, in Los Angeles and have them make us their best cocktails.

The itinerary was Joel Black at Comme Ca, Pablo Moix at STK, Vincenzo Marianella at Copa d’Oro and, if we were feeling ambitious, Julian Cox at Rivera and Michel Dozois at Church & State. (I would have added Marcos Tello at the Edison but he wasn’t working that night and Damian Windsor is only at Bar Lubitsch on Mondays). Sounded like a doable plan. But since we aimed to do this on a Saturday, the most dreaded of bar nights for me, I insisted we start off early to avoid the crowds.

Comme Ca: Joel Black, director of beverages

Comme Ca's Joel Black by Caroline on Crack

Comme Ca's Joel Black

So we agreed to meet first at Comme Ca in West Hollywood at 5pm. Sure enough at this magical hour there was no one sitting at the bar and we had mixologist Joel Black all to ourselves. Originally I was thinking we’d do one drink per place and hang for about an hour or so to avoid the whole drinking and driving thing but instead Joel made us several to try. Oy vey and yay! Fortunately my understanding bf was on hand to be my designated driver so I could drink without worry.

Anyway, back to Joel. I had first got wind of his skills when I voted him as the winner of a Martin Miller’s gin & tonic competition at the Edison last year. His Gin and Tarragonic was brilliant, a clean and original take on the old gin & tonic cocktail. He has since gone on to win the Hennessy Cognac’s cocktail contest and recently expanded Comme Ca’s cocktail menu from four to over 20 fabulous and ever-changing concoctions!

Comme Ca's Brooklyn by Caroline on Crack

Comme Ca's Brooklyn

The Brooklyn: Blanton’s bourbon, Averna, dry vermouth, maraschino. Perfect if you want a little variety from the Manhattan, this was very aromatic and yummy. A sipping drink for sure.

Comme Ca's Amalfi Smash by Caroline on Crack

Comme Ca's Amalfi Smash

Amafi Smash: lemon juice, basil, honey, Averna, Elijah Craig. Lemony and really easy to guzzle.

STK: Pablo Moix, mixologist (stand-in: Mike)

STK's Mike by Caroline on Crack

STK's Mike

After Comme Ca we stumbled up La Cienega Boulevard toward STK, that sexy steakhouse. At 6pm, this place was thankfully dead. No one in the restaurant and happily no one at the bar. Unfortunately, Pablo had let me know beforehand that he was very ill so had to ask fellow STK bartender Mike to stand in for him. He did give Mike three drinks to make for us, though. But because of this there’s no telling if these were in fact the way they were supposed to taste. Suffice it to say, they weren’t exactly our favorite of the ones we tried that night. We may have to revisit STK when Pablo is there to be sure. Not saying that Mike was a horrible bartender but he’s no Pablo.

STK's Pablo's Verde by Caroline on Crack

STK's Pablo's Verde

Pablo’s Verde: Maker’s Mark, simple syrup, muddled cilantro, celery. Although this seemed promising with the use of Maker’s it was only meh. Food Marathon said it reminded him of lemon-lime Gatorade.

STK's Surfer on Absinthe by Caroline on Crack

STK's Surfer on Absinthe

Surfer on Absinthe: Absinthe, Jager, Bacardi, lemon, simple syrup and topped with Prosecco. Apparently this is Pablo’s take on that sports bar favorite, Surfer on Acid. Food Marathon and my bf got the joke and loved the drink, but since I was never big into shots, I didn’t get it.

STK's Pablo's Saturday by Caroline on Crack

STK's Pablo's Saturday

Pablo’s Saturday: Mint, cucumber, bitters, Dewars, simple syrup, lime, lemon, orange and ginger ale. I first sampled Pablo’s Tuesday (Pablo’s weekday drink) at Copa d’Oro and absolutely loved it. This weekend version was very drinkable, refreshing, sweet and my fave of the three we tried.

Copa d’Oro: Vincenzo Marianella, head barman and mixologist

Copa d'Oro Vincenzo Marianella by Caroline on Crack

Copa d'Oro's Vincenzo Marianella

Last up was my absolute favorite bar which has brought great cocktails to Santa Monica. And yes, at this point there was no way we’d make it downtown, let alone remember our experiences there so this was our last stop of the night. Burgeoning on 7? 8pm? at this point, the bar was starting to get busy but fortunately we were still able to score some bar stools in Vincenzo’s section.

He said that he doesn’t have a cocktail that he’d call his best but instead suggested that we go with the market menu and tell him what spirits we like, flavors, etc. and he’d take care of the rest. But just when I was about to say “bourbon, aromatic, not sour” I remembered that Vincenzo had wanted me to try the Sour Kraut cocktail on the menu. It was more as a dare than anything by the other bartenders I had met at The Sporting Life, a local club of L.A. bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts.

This cocktail made with dijon and marmalade sounded scary and yet strangely appealing. I couldn’t try it before because apparently the Dijon mustard was tough to get a hold of from the local farmer’s market where the bar gets most of its ingredients. But then Vincenzo got the mustard and had been waiting for me to come back and try the cocktail ever since. “It was waiting for you,” he said. Not one to back down on a dare I ordered it up.

Sour Kraut, Ham/Cheese Panini & Vincenzo by Caroline on Crack

Sour Kraut, Ham/Cheese Panini & Vincenzo

Sour Kraut: Martin Miller’s Gin, Cointreau, orange marmalade, Dijon mustard, lemon juice. You probably won’t believe me but this cocktail actually tasted good and I don’t even like mustard! It was yummy, drinkable mustard. And if you want to try something really yummy, order it with the Bread Bar ham and cheese panini! Talk about genius!

Copa d'Oro Diva cocktail by Caroline on Crack

Copa d'Oro Diva cocktail

Diva: Sazerac Rye, Carpano Antica, sweet Vermouth, lemon bitters and in place of Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur he used Marie Brizard Cacao. I’ve been wanting to try this cocktail since Copa opened but Vincenzo hasn’t been able to get a hold of the Mozard Dark Chocolate and he’s looked everywhere. In all honesty, at this point of the evening I really don’t remember this cocktail. If it was made with the Mozart I probably would have paid better attention. But suffice it to say we did end up ordering another Sour Kraut.

As for what my favorite cocktail of the evening was, I’d have to say it’s a tie between Joel’s Brooklyn and Vincenzo’s Sour Kraut (with the panini pairing).

This was such a fun marathon but I feel like we’ve only skimmed the surface of excellent bars in Los Angeles. Not to worry though, Food Marathon and I are in talks about the possibility of a part two, preferably on an off night.

Food Marathon’s take on the cocktail-a-thon.

7 Responses to Cocktail Marathon: Food Marathon and Caroline on Crack Blog Mashup
  1. yolanda
    March 17, 2009 | 3:47 pm

    The Sour Kraut is quite good huh

  2. H.C.
    March 17, 2009 | 3:50 pm

    Heh, I met Neil the next day at the Gold Standard — totally alchyed out! And yea, an off-night *drink* marathon would definitely be better. Can’t wait to read about that 😉

  3. MyLastBite
    March 17, 2009 | 4:32 pm

    I wish I had your stamina!!

  4. Noelle
    March 18, 2009 | 9:42 am

    Oh, that’s SUPER. I would LOVE to do that, but would definitely need to find a DD.

    I totally want to try that Sour Kraut + Panini combo. Sounds DELISH!


  5. tonydowntown
    March 18, 2009 | 2:19 pm

    With all the press the last couple weeks about mixology, especially at locations downtown, why do places like varnish, seven grand and doheny not make your list?

  6. Caroline on Crack
    March 18, 2009 | 2:45 pm

    Yup it is!

    I hope there is a part II. So many bars so little time and liver.

    Believe me, I was a mess at the end of the night.

    Try it and let me know what you think. Am I crazy?

    Lonnng, boring story why those places aren’t on my list. I’ll leave it at that.

  7. […] 43) Bartender’s Choice at Comme Ca […]

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