There's no doubt it's been a stellar year for cocktails in Los Angeles. Bartenders all over the city are seriously upping their collective game. We have a ton of exciting new places to drink, from restaurants with serious cocktail programs like Beverly Grove's Goldie's and downtown's Stocking Frame to decadent, dedicated cocktail bars like Honeycut. Next month, L.A. gets its very own cocktail convention. It's a good time to be drinking in Southern California.
2013 is the year when drinks with a sinister edge stepped out of the cocktail-nerd corner and into the limelight. Where it used to be unusual to see drinks with more bitter profiles anywhere other than serious cocktail bars, rye whiskey, bitters and amaro-based drinks now are commonplace. For those of us who explain our drinking style as “like an old man's,” this is a very good turn of events.
However, because those types of drinks have now become so common, my attention has turned toward creativity. Who in town is really pushing forward with their own style, creating drinks that are both delicious and thoughtful?
There are certainly a number of folks who fit that profile. But the drink that stood out most recently — that stopped me in my tracks, in fact — was the Pistachio Colada at A.O.C. It takes its cues from tiki, with Nicaraguan rum, fresh passion fruit and lime as its base, but the addition of a house-made pistachio syrup turns the drink nutty and winter-appropriate. A.O.C.'s head barman, Christiaan Rollich, rims the glass with crushed pistachio, sugar and a hint of cayenne pepper, making for an incredibly complex drink that is pure fun at its core.
In a year with so many great cocktails, this one was a shining example of the direction we might see drinks moving in 2014. Here's to another year of awesome drinking.
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