The Parish, downtown's new restaurant wedged into the narrow flat-iron space on Spring Street, opened a few weeks ago -- but you might not guess it after look around. Chef Casey Lane took inspiration from downtown Los Angeles so-called "golden era" of the 1920's and 30's in creating the space's vintage feel. The bar -- which runs the length of the second floor, is covered with dark wood paneling, iron sconces, and brass fixtures -- is exactly the kind of place you'd want to mull over a few stiff drinks.
But the history doesn't stop at the decor, the drink program run by John Coltharp (Seven Grand, Caña Rume Bar) includes a cocktail that he created back in 2008 as part of Marco Tellos' "Downtown Los Angeles Sub-District Cocktail Competition," which challenged L.A. bartenders to create cocktails that would represent the different districts of downtown in the same way that New York bartenders a few years back created such drinks as The Bensonhurst, Greenpoint, Harlem, and Little Italy.
For his award-winning entry, Coltharp took on the "Historic Core" district, which includes the swath of land between Hill and Main on the west and east, and 3rd and 9th on the north and south. "I wanted to capture the kind of spirits Angelenos were drinking around the turn of the century," says Coltharp.
He combined rye whiskey and applejack (America's first type of distilled spirit) and blended them to create a off-shoot of the Manhattan, enlivened by the addition of green Chartreuse. It's stirred and served simply, in a chilled stem glass with a length of lemon peel perched along its rim. It's also strong enough to knock you back a good half-century -- drink too many and you'll probably feel like a character in a Raymond Chandler novel. Now that's what we call a history lesson.
Historic Core Cocktail
From: John Coltharp, Seven Grand Whiskey Bar
Makes: 1 drink
1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Applejack
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth
1 generous dash of Angostura bitters
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1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir for 30 seconds.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.