R Bar's tall, curvy, dark-haired bartender Naomi Schimek is a modern day Rosie The Riviter; she cooks, gardens, fashions a distinctive twist on classic cocktails, slings shots, has raised two teenage daughters on her own, and can probably drink you under the table.
Hailing from northern Vermont, Schimek grew up in a log cabin and speaks wistfully of moving to Montreal. "But I've been in L.A. twelve years and don't know what I'd do without my year-round garden." Filled with pomegranate, lemon and mulberry trees, Schimek's garden shines front and center Monday nights at R Bar where she spends the evening mixing up her homegrown concoctions. "They give me creative control, I do a menu and get to try out new recipes on people, it doesn't let me get lazy."
Schimek's drinks are undeniably feminine; light and beautiful, they're infused with things like black current, Tahitian vanilla and ginseng. Forgoing straws so your nose gets the first hit, rosemary, sage, orange blossom and edible flowers float delicately on top of the glass, stimulating your senses with an earthy freshness.
Just Monday nights at R Bar, you ask? Wednesday, Saturday and Thursdays Schimek can be found at the opposite end of the spectrum, diving it up at Bar 107 and sometimes, when they ask real nice, she spends the night at a mobbed up joint in the South Bay doling out Schlitz and placing bets.
"Between work and the kids it's hard for me to find a night out," says Schimek. Catch her when you can, wherever you can.
From: Bartender Naomi Schimek.
Makes: 1 drink
2 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
1-2 drops Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
1 oz. simple syrup
2 1/2 oz. pomegranate seeds
8-9 lemon balm leaves (substitute lemon verbena if you can't find the lemon)
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1. Muddle pomegranate seeds and lemon balm together.
2. Add the simple, bitters and bourbon.
3. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.
4. Garnish with a chiffonade of fresh lemon balm (or lemon verbena).