Bar 1886 at the Raymond feels a lot like a speakeasy, just not like the speakeasies du jour. Yes, the restaurant has dark wood and craft cocktails, but there are windows and a lack of password gimmicks. What makes it feel like a hidden oasis maybe stems from the difficulty of finding the place. And the windows are shrouded with lush greenery. It may be more appropriate to call Bar 1886 something along the lines of a secret garden, a secret drinking garden you’d like to post up in for eternity.
While 1886's bar team, headed by lead bartender Peter Lloyd Jones, changes the cocktail menu seasonally, there are certain drinks that remain perennial favorites. Here’s what to drink inside of this denlike bar, no matter when you make it in.
In 1886's retro setting, pay homage to classic cocktails, such as a rye old-fashioned. "America’s first tax was actually established on rye whiskey, so it is really the true American spirit," Jones says. "We have hundreds of variations of old-fashioneds and Manhattans. This one is just the original recipe of bitters, sugar and spirit, the rye whiskey. We always like to use a lemon peel with our old-fashioneds." 1886 offers a happy hour menu Tuesday through Friday, from 4 to 7 p.m., which features this cocktail and other timeless drinks such as gimlets and daiquiris.
Like any good bar program, 1886 serves twists on popular cocktails. Some of those twists have become staples at the bar, including the Medicina Latina. The cocktail was created by one of the bar's original consultants, Marcos Tello. "This is a neo-classic based off of a recipe that’s very popular in the cocktail world," Jones says. "The original recipe is called a Penicillin and it’s made at Milk and Honey in New York." Tello transformed the Penicillin into a tequila cocktail with fresh lime juice, house-made ginger syrup, clover honey, a mezcal spray and, of course, tequila. Follow Jones' lead and pair the Medicina Latina with the suckling pig tacos al pastor.
The Smoking Jacket
When Marcos Tello ran the bar program, he would challenge his bartenders to create a cocktail based off of a memory. Lacey Murillo's creation went on to become one of the bar's most popular cocktails to date. Not only is it a well-balanced drink, it's aesthetically entertaining as well. The inspiration came from Murillo's memories of her big Italian family's get-togethers. After dinner, the adults would drink scotch and smoke cigars on the balcony, an off-limits activity for 8-year-old Murillo. "One night they all went to sleep early and she snuck out on the patio and grabbed her grandfather’s scotch glass and put her nose in it to smell what was going on," Jones said. "What was this cup he had been nursing all night?"
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Murillo transformed that nose full of scotch and cigar into the Smoking Jacket, with Redbreast 12-year-old Irish whiskey, tobacco bitters, brown sugar and orange vanilla ash. “We smoke the glass with a hickory wood chip," Jones said, explaining the dramatic building of the cocktail. Transport yourself to Murillo's childhood with this iconic drink.
1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena. (626) 441-3136, theraymond.com.