Last year, the Four Seasons Hotel chain jumped on the locavore bandwagon with its 100-Mile cocktail program, challenging its properties worldwide to create cocktails with ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of each hotel's location. This year, CUT and Sidebar at the Beverly Wilshire, Culina and Windows Lounge at the Four Seasons Los Angeles are stepping up to the bar, as it were, with their own farm-to-glass contributions.
At CUT and Sidebar, beverage director Dana Farner sources cherimoya from Coleman Family Farms to make the Monstera Deliciosa, composed of Crusoe organic rum, cherimoya, Pulito Farms lime juice and simple syrup. The almost prehistoric-looking fruit at the center of this cocktail is a bit like a fruit punch mash-up, with flavors of banana, coconut and mango plus a little strawberry and peach thrown in for good measure. As geeky food folk know, Mark Twain called it "the most delicious fruit known to men."
Given the luscious flavor profile, the cherimoya makes an ideal choice as the fruit component of this summer cocktail. But what to call it? As Farner tells it, "We were struck by the unattractive appearance of the cherimoya that we use in the cocktail -- it's really ugly. I was doing a little research on it and discovered that there is another fruit in the same family from South America called "Monstera Deliciosa," or delicious monster. That name pretty much sums up how we feel about the fruit! It's so ugly yet so delicious."
Not quite so ugly but just as misjudged, rhubarb is center stage in the SoCal Julep at the Four Seasons L.A.'s Culina Modern Italian and Windows Lounge. The julep sources no fewer than four ingredients from local purveyors, including the same Crusoe Rum used in the Deliciosa. Crusoe is made by Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Matthew, a husband-and-wife team who work out of the downtown Greenbar Collective, which specializes in organic spirits. The Mount Palomar brandy comes from Temecula, the rhubarb from a nearby Southern California farm -- and the mint from the Four Season's own herb garden.
Whether your pleasure is cherimoya or rhubarb, lime or mint, both of these 100-Mile drinks are superb summer sippers, balancing the sweet and sour elements necessary in any classically-rooted cocktail. Better yet, with local ingredients and utterly fresh flavors, these cocktails are particularly Angeleno in both philosophy and taste.
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Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book "Gin: A Global History." Email her at email@example.com. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.