If you were wondering about the future of L.A.'s "Cocktail Moment," as the L.A. Weekly dubbed it in 2009, restaurants like the newly opened Sadie may offer an indication. Cocktail concoctions from Giovanni Martinez -- not just a bartender but the "Director of Spirits" -- flood the drinks menu.
Some recall past cocktail heydays, such as the cosmopolitan derived from a 1933 recipe. Another, called The Green Beast, lists absinthe as a main ingredient. Others mix more modern flavors, such as lychee black tea-infused tequila. Many are designed to compliment specific items from the menu, such as the sirloin steak paired with Oaxacan Through Italy -- mezcal, vermouth, and cynar, a bitter liqueur. And, until they run out, Martinez is serving two cocktails that he's aged in wooden barrels.
The range of ingredients and combinations may seem intriguing; others may find it plain overwhelming. So perhaps the place to start learning is the kitchen. Your own. If you feel like experimenting, try Sadie's The Nautilus. It's a few steps up from vodka and orange juice, but the ingredients should be easy to locate or make. Then, your trendy cocktail is just a few pours away.
From: Giovanni Martinez, of Sadie
Makes: 1 drink
1/2 oz Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum
1 oz Martell V.S.O.P. Medallion Cognac
1 1/2 oz Rabarbaro Zucca (rhubarb bitter liqueur)
1/2 oz vanilla syrup (see recipe below)
1. Swizzle and top with whipped heavy cream.
Makes: 1 cup vanilla syrup
1 cup water
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1 cup white sugar
1 vanilla bean
1. Add 1/2 vanilla bean into mix of water and sugar. Let marinate overnight.