Luckily for all of us, Los Angeles has become a city where you don’t have to go far to get a very good cocktail. From their respective sides of the bar, cocktail aficionados and bartenders alike are continually moving our city’s drinking culture forward, looking toward what’s new and what’s next. As a result, bartenders across the city are looking for ways to innovate with every new, appetizing drink menu. Lately, the creativity might lie not in utilizing a seldom-used ingredient or new gastronomic technique but in the reuse of what is already in front of them.
Particularly in bars that work in tandem with a kitchen, you’ll find bartenders partnering with the chefs, beyond creating drinks that pair well with their food. More and more, ingredients that are used in the kitchen are repurposed to become a component in a cocktail. The result: a delicious cocktail, built in a way that is sustainable to not only the bar’s service model but also to Mother Earth. Here are some examples found across town.
Cari Hah at Big Bar — Sunnie in the Yucatán
Hah’s time in Mexico has inspired her to formulate this delicious cocktail using Altos Tequila infused with mango scraps, throwaways that would otherwise go straight into the trash. Guanabana rum liqueur, lime, ginger beer and house-made ginger foam make this fizzy, foamy tropical masterpiece perfectly balanced for easy, creamy sips in the summer.
1927 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz; (323) 644-0100, alcovecafe.com/bigbar.
China Morbosa at the Eveleigh — Zaragoza Street
Morbosa takes the unwanted pineapple peels and cores from the kitchen and infuses a fermented mixture of juice, brown sugar and the first warm pull of keg beer. The resulting tepache is used in her Zaragoza Street cocktail, with Ilegal mezcal, Ancho Reyes liqueur, lime, agave, cucumber and fino sherry, for a refreshing and peppery treat.
8752 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (424) 239-1630, theeveleigh.com.
Kim Stodel at Providence — Notify the Mayor!
Celery root from Michael Cimarusti’s kitchen is given not only a second chance at life but a third at Stodel’s bar. Scraps are salvaged, then either combined with lime juice and zest to concoct a cordial, or pickled and used as a garnish for this cocktail. Mell vodka is combined with Jardesca (a grape aperitif), the celeriac cordial and an espelette rim with pickled celery root garnish for an ultra-smooth, fragrant and floral cocktail with a tiny kick.
5955 Melrose Ave., Hancock Park; (323) 460-4170, providencela.com.
Aaron Polsky at Harvard & Stone — Tequila Grapefruit Mule
Though Harvard & Stone isn’t associated with any kitchen, Polsky has found a way to repurpose materials otherwise gone bad within his own bar, including two-day-old lemon and lime juice. He adds sugar to the juices in order to speed up their fermentation process through fostering probiotics, and combines the resulting soda with Cabeza tequila blanco, ginger syrup, Pamplemousse liqueur, shadowlime, Aperol, and Bittermens hopped grapefruit bitters for a refreshing, fizzy tequila grapefruit mule.
5221 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 466-6063, harvardandstone.com.