Why does anyone need 16 amaros? "A man needs choices every once in a while," says bartender extraordinaire, Julian Cox, whose cocktail menu for Sotto, which should officially open to the public next Wednesday, is designed around Italian liquors like sambucca, Campari and grappa.
Look for an amaro daiquiri made with aged rum agricole, lime, Averna and cane sugar. There's also the punny Grappa Don't Preach, which -- aside from the obvious inclusion of grappa -- is still in flux. The debut bar menu will be small, six to eight cocktails, but will change seasonally. Cox is still working to ensure it jives with the restaurant's house-made pastas and Neapolitan pizzas.
Speaking of which, Sotto's hand-built Stefano Ferrara pizza oven has been cured and is burning through cords of wood.
Cox is a busy man. He has also been finalizing the newest seasonal cocktail menu for Rivera, which drops next week, and overseeing the bar program at Playa, where he makes cocktails with tequila, Barolo Chinato and bitter Sardinian honey.
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Around the rest of Los Angeles, Italian aperatifs, digestifs and bitters are having their moment in the sun. They're the centerpiece of the cocktail menu at Brentwood's Bar Toscana, where bartender William Perbellini brought drinks like the Little Italy (made with whiskey, Dimmi Llqueur, Amaro Zucca, peach bitters and a twist of orange) to his stint as guest bartender at Michael's. At nomadic cocktail club Pharmacie, Talmadge Lowe busted out Torani Amer, an attempt to recapture and bottle pre-1975 Amer Picone.
At Sotto, Cox even plans to use an immersion circulator to make his own amaro from a neutral grain spirit infused with lemon peel, cinconina (we think) and gentian root. During stone fruit season, he also plans to make his own amaretto and slivovitz. Bottoms up.