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Mixology: Specialty cocktails

By Ashley Jakubczyk

March 10, 2014 12:00 a.m.

Each week, columnist Ashley Jakubczyk talks about a new mixed drink, where to get it in Westwood and how you can concoct your own version at home. This week, Jakubczyk explores the eclectic side of cocktails in Westwood.

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Ten weeks ago when I began writing this column, one of the things I realized right away was how diverse and complex cocktails can be. As I ventured out into Westwood, the bars’ menus surprised me – drinks that cited lavender and sesame seeds as ingredients seemed so out of place and yet are listed as restaurant specialties and customer favorites.

Noticing this trend led me to my new favorite thing to do at any bar: Ask the bartender. They’re experts at their craft and very knowledgable about the drinks on the menu. In talking to the bartenders in Westwood, I found that some of the most interesting, odd-sounding drinks are actually quite delicious and worth a taste. Some are made with unconventional ingredients, and others are crafted with flavor-infused liquors and spirits.

There are various specialty cocktails on the happy hour menu at The Glendon Bar and Kitchen, located on Glendon Avenue. Some are named after famous actresses, such as the Jane Fonda ($7.50), made with Nikolai vodka, fresh sliced cucumber, lime and agave. The crisp zest of the cucumber balances the tart lime and smooth agave flavors.

Other namesakes at The Glendon Bar include the beloved Hello Kitty ($7.50), crafted from Champagne, St-Germain and raspberry liqueor. The crisp, summery elderflower flavor of the St-Germain balances the sweetness of the raspberry, and the bubbly fizz of Champagne gives the drink a multilayered taste.

For intriguing drinks made with odd, unusually flavored liquors, head over to the W Los Angeles hotel on Hilgard Avenue and check out the concoctions at Whiskey Blue. For something undeniably sweet, try the Bubblicious, which mixes Three Olives bubblegum-flavored vodka with a splash of pomegranate flavoring.

Whiskey Blue’s Suspicious Minds pairs ginger liqueur with Right Gin, a sweeter, more citrusy gin. The ginger and citrus undertones are perfectly enhanced with white cranberry juice to make an unusual, yet quite pleasant, pairing. Gran Centenario Rosangel reposado tequila, which is infused with the sweet flavorings of the Hawaiian hibiscus flower, is the base for the Rose Angel, an equally sweet cocktail that pairs the tequila with elderflower syrup and a dash of Sprite.

The Backyard, also located at the W Los Angeles, has the Open Sesame, made with Grey Goose vodka, pistachio liqueur, white balsamic vinegar and strawberries. What gives it its unique flavor – and name – is the addition of sesame oil, which picks up the nutty flavor of pistachio liqueur and cuts the sharp flavor of white balsamic vinegar.

If you’re bogged down with upcoming term papers and final exams, take a break from being a student and order yourself The Professor at The Backyard. It’s crafted from a base of Chivas Regal 18 scotch, port and the botanical, earthy flavors of sweet vermouth. Topped off with a dash of bitters, this drink is ideal for a more sophisticated palate that doesn’t mind a woody taste.

The Dark and Stormy at Palomino Restaurant and Bar, near the Hammer Museum, is crafted from Mount Gay Rum’s Eclipse, which has a distinctive flavor. Here, its harsh, fruity undertones are complemented with Palomino’s house-made ginger beer and fresh lime sour, which undermines the initial bite of the rum for a drink that goes down smoothly.

The accompanying recipe combines root beer vodka with the flavors of vanilla and cherries to make a sweet, alcoholic variation of a root beer float. Experiment by including a scoop of vanilla ice cream to recreate the traditional textures of a float.

Root Beer Cocktail (alcoholic)

1 ounce root beer vodka

1 ounce vanilla vodka

ginger ale or Sprite

maraschino cherries

Pour both vodkas into a tall, chilled glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale and stir. Garnish with a few maraschino cherries to taste.

Root Beer Cocktail (non-alcoholic)

1 ounce root beer

1 ounce vanilla cream soda

ginger ale or Sprite

Pour root beer and soda into a tall, chilled glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale and stir. Garnish with a few maraschino cherries to taste.

Do you agree with Jakubczyk’s eclectic picks? Have a better one? Email Jakubczyk at [email protected].

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Ashley Jakubczyk
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