When Matt Glassman, James Bygrave and Ryan Julio set about opening a cocktail bar in Highland Park, they wanted to bring the neighborhood a serious bar without the seriousness. The result was ETA, a craft cocktail haven aimed at keeping regulars happy. “This is people’s 'Cheers,'” Glassman said. “We want people to come here two or three times a week, and if everything you do is an old-fashioned take, if everything you do is a stirred, serious cocktail, it’s going to be tough for people to come back.”
We asked bar manager and New York transplant Mauricio Canales what people shouldn't miss on their first ETA visit.
Love & Trust
Although apple cocktails may seem more fitting in autumn, the ETA team scoffs at seasonal restraints, considering L.A.'s perennially summery climate. The Love & Trust created by bartender Dana Cape brings together apple brandy, pisco, Granny Smith apple juice, lemon, ginger, honey and absinthe.
“The apple juice gives it a little bit of freshness,” Canales said. Just like any trend-aware restaurant in L.A., ETA brings in different ingredients daily, but the bar prides itself on offering the Highland Park drinking public cocktails at prices $1 to $2 cheaper than those downtown.
If you've ever longed for a boozy Arizona Iced Tea, the Antietam Punch is for you. It's a combination of Principales de Apostles Mate gin, an Argentinian gin made with yerba mate, with mango mate tea and citrus cordial, complete with a traditional yerba mate bombilla filter straw that keeps the loose-leaf tea garnish from leaving the glass. It's practically a pick-me-up.
The G&T Fizz
It took Canales two months to perfect his revamp of a gin and tonic. “I hated it,” Canales said. “It didn’t want to work, man.” The resulting product of his efforts was the G&T Fizz with two kinds of gin, Byrrh Grand Quina Quina (an aperitif made of wine, chocolate, coffee, orange peel and cinchona bark, the traditional active ingredient in tonic water), egg white and black lime tonic syrup. What began with hate has turned into love. “This is my boo. I started out drinking gin and tonics, and as I found mixology I really got into frothy cocktails — egg-white cocktails — so this is a combination of both of those things,” he said. “This is my favorite cocktail on the menu. It’s really simple but has a few elements that we’re proud of.”
Meet Me in Montauk
ETA bartender Claudia Ramirez created this cocktail, whose name is an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reference. “This one has a little bit more character for cocktail nerds,” Canales said. Meet Me in Montauk's defining element is its Combier Kummel, a caraway seed, cumin and fennel liqueur, which plays well with the drink's gin, white vermouth, Thai basil, honey and lime.
5630 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; (323) 274-4755, facebook.com/ETAHLP.