Moonshine meatloaf made with foie gras, wrapped in black bacon and infused with gin. Whole hog porter beer can chicken served with a stout. This is just a taste of the Southern comfort food-focused menu created by executive chef Shelley Cooper for new downtown venue, First & Hope Supper Club.
The much-anticipated 6,000-square-foot restaurant by business partners Terry Brewer and Parker Martin is slated to open mid-March across from Walt Disney Hall and will offer theater-goers and downtown residents not only sophisticated Southern fare with a moderate price range but an extensive wine program. Look for 30-plus enomatic tasting machines and a 750-bottle wine list, developed by "a sommelier from a big Beverly Hills restaurant known for amazing wine," says Aidan Demarest, cocktail consultant for First & Hope's beverage program.
Since the venue is still under construction, many things are in development and therefore on the down low. The new sommelier will be announced soon but Demarest was able to share what he and mixologist Marcos Tello, his partner in the brand-new Tello/Demarest Liquid Assets cocktail consulting firm, plan for the club.
The 20-drink menu will be champagne heavy to go along with the Art Deco supper club atmosphere and will include classic cocktails like Sidecars and Brandy Alexanders. But Demarest and Tello will also put a unique spin on the classics to complement Cooper's menu, even creating food and cocktail pairings as well as drinks to go with the shows at the venue, which has both a 300-capacity show room and a 100-capacity backroom.
First & Hope will offer downtown a food and cocktail alternative to the Edison, Demarest's former employ where he will continue to consult for its monthly Radio Room nights. He plans to bring over the guest bartender program that the Edison's Radio Room is known for, flying in the best from all over the world.
And like the Edison, there will be shows. "The entertainment will be top-shelf jazz and later at night it'll be a raucous, sexier show with half-naked girls and midgets," Demarest said, half-joking.
The former director of spirits at the Edison -- a post recently taken over by America's Top Bartender winner and Copa d'Oro bartender, Joseph Brooke -- has big plans for First & Hope. At the new venue he'll get to explore the possibilities of cocktails with food, something he couldn't do at the Edison which had a small kitchen. Here, one-fourth of the kitchen is devoted to cocktail making, stocked with 100 fresh herbs.
"The drinks aren't enough. I want people to get the whole experience with the food and the show," Demarest said excitedly. "This is the most collaborative work I've ever done and I'm working with the dream team from the best L.A. restaurants."
Apart from that yet-to-be-announced sommelier, Demarest promises a who's who of the L.A. bar scene behind the bar, including Tello who may take over as head of The Tar Pit to replace the departing Audrey Saunders. And Mad Men assistant costume designer Allison Leach, who had also designed the outfits at downtown bar The Doheny, has created the supper club's uniforms and costumes.
First & Hope will be open seven days a week til 2 a.m. and will also serve lunch and weekend brunch.
One of the cocktails on the menu, which has yet to be signed off, is the Champagne julep, an upscale version of the Southern staple, the mint julep.
Note: To make simple syrup, boil equal parts water and sugar, then cool.
Makes: 1 drink
6-8 mint leaves
1 sugar cube
1/2 ounce simple syrup
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1. Muddle the mint and sugar cubes in a julep cup.
2. Add crushed ice.
3. Churn ice while filling with Champagne. Garnish with a mint sprig.
The First & Hope Supper Club: 710 W 1st Street, Los Angeles; (213) 617-8555.