To be clear: December 5th marks the official end of Prohibition, the day when Utah, the last holdout of strong pro-Prohibition sentiment, finally ratified the 21st Amendment. That's how strongly Americans once felt about booze: We needed a constitutional amendment to ensure our right to possess it.
Though Repeal Day hit the peak of its present-day popularity two years ago, there are still events happening this Sunday.
The Varnish: The shoebox-sized pseudo-speakeasy hosts the 2nd annual Jimmy Barela Award and Cocktail Competition. Named after a Depression-era barman who worked the counter at Cole's, it's hosted by Eric Alperin and Chris Bostick and is open to bartenders working in LA and OC. Thirsty in LA has details on entry requirements and judging.) The contest is private but... 118 E. 6th St., LA; (213) 622-9999.
But a cocktail competition on Sunday? Has no one read the Bible where it specifically states, "On the seventh day God finished the work He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work he had done." I guess not, as it seemed to have been interpreted by downtown L.A. Bartenders as, "After six days of serving the screaming masses cocktails, the seventh is reserved for creating tequila drinks in the name of brotherhood. And the chance to win five hundred bucks."
How giant bowls filled with liquor ever fell out of favor is beyond me. A bottomless pool of cocktail disguised as "punch" is a drinker's dream: undulating waves of spirit swirling around a block of ice, a frisson of Champagne mingled with a sweetener, the plunk of a ladle, slosh of the liquid...
If you're having a party this holiday season, it can be confusing trying to figure out what to do about the bar. Hire a bartender? Call B.Y.O.B.? What if you don't have the right mixers?
The democratic nature of the punch bowl means you don't need a bartender to man the decks, which leaves you, the host, free to enjoy your party. Here to help you find a great punch for such a fun time, is Malo Restaurant in Silverlake with their Punch Competition next Thursday, December 10th, starting at 8 p.m.
Joe Miller (Joe's, Bar Pintxo) and John Sedlar (Rivera), who have been friends for some time, must be logging some after-hours good times at their respective restaurants, or somewhere, because the two Los Angeles chefs have collaborated not on a dish or a drink, but on the idea for a competition. Miller will host the first installment of 'Raising the Bar,' a mixology competition, next Sunday night, October 11, at his Abbot Kinney restaurant. And in the following months, bartenders from Rivera and each of 4 other Los Angeles restaurants will compete in a Mix-Off. It's a "friendly competition to build awareness of the great bars in our LA restaurants, and ultimately to have fun," says Miller.
After hours of shooting the shit with the affable Simon Ford of Pernod-Ricard, and Seven Grand's mile-a-minute-GM, David Fleischer, a conclusion was drawn that Los Angeles cocktailians were of two minds; one, they were bartenders, not performers, or conversely, they were performers, nee actors, and not bartenders.
Be that as it may, a handful of Los Angeles' shakers showed their pretty mugs and surrendered to questions like, "If you could serve any celebrity, who would it be and what would you make?"