When bar manager Joseph Swifka created his cocktail menu at Salt’s Cure, he reverted to the classics, especially the playful drinks. “The restaurant has a very classic American feel. A lot of the dishes are tweaks on American favorites, like pork chops with apple sauce, and burgers,” he said. “It reminds me of a classic steakhouse sometimes, so I looked back at old menus from that era and those kinds of restaurants to see what they were serving then and it was a lot of Rob Roys and old-fashioneds, planters punch, that kind of stuff. It made sense.”
The Salt’s Cure bar menu is devoid of Sazeracs and Boulevardiers, opting instead for ’50s fun like mai tais and hurricane slushies. The restaurant does Rum Punch Mondays with $6 punches all night long. While the menu is lighthearted, the cocktails are seriously good. Here’s what to drink at Salt’s Cure.
Right in line with the midcentury theme, Swifka is big on tiki. “I’ve been working with rum and tiki drinks for a lot of years, so I can’t help it, I have to put it on the menu,” he said. Salt’s Cure serves a zombie punch so potent there’s a two-per-person limit. The $18 cocktail packs in a lot of rum, lime juice, grenadine, falernum, absinthe, bitters, cinnamon and grapefruit. “It’s really surprisingly easy to drink, for how strong it is,” Swifka said. “It’s about five ounces of spirits, so you can do the math. It’s like three drinks in one.” The zombie punch is definitely more spirit-forward than the pineapple-laden drinks often confused for tiki, reminding you to sip slowly. For $10 you can take home the skull tiki mug to start a collection of your own.
In its current state, the Salt’s Cure menu features only a couple of tequila drinks, but Swifka plans to change that with future menus. “It’s going to be very tequila- and rum-heavy. Going further down the road with tiki and tropical but with a Tulum sort of feel to it, so tequila tropical,” he said. “People are super into mezcal and tequila these days, so I’m just going to go all the way.” For now, try the menu’s overlooked Seersucker Suit, made with tequila, cinnamon syrup, lime and strawberry jam crafted by the restaurant’s pastry chef. “This one doesn’t get its due. I think people see cinnamon and strawberry and think it’s going to be very sweet, which it's not,” Swifka said of the Seersucker Suit. “I mean, of course there’s a sweetness to it, but it’s balanced. People should try it, it’s delicious. No one should be scared of strawberry.”
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Instead of staying stuck behind the wheel in traffic, post up at the Salt’s Cure bar during its new Anti-Gridlock Hour, a happy hour running weekdays from 3 to 6 pm. The menu features five $8 cocktails, including the Highland Ave Highball. “It’s basically a riff on the Americano," Swifka said. "Ours has Campari, Amontillado sherry, amaro, club soda. It’s lower ABV and a good afternoon drink. It’ll take the edge off a little bit but not put you under.” There are beers and cider for $5, and carafes of wine for $15. Maybe don’t try the whole menu before getting back on the road. Besides drinks, there's the glorious 5-ounce bacon cheeseburger. Perfect for soaking up that alcohol, the burger’s bagel-esque bun holds together juicy grass-fed beef, a thick slab of house-cured bacon, some Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel cheese and local greens and red onion. Happy drinking and bon appetit.
1155 Highland Ave., Hollywood; (323) 465-7258, saltscure.com.