Hip Bar Openings and Locally Inspired MenusAugust 24, 2010 By: Jack Robertiello
In San Diego, owners Nate Stanton and Arsalun Tafazol of El Dorado Cocktail Lounge opened Craft & Commerce with the drink menu assistance of New York’s Phil Ward (Mayahuel). An apparent instant hit with locals, the drinks include punch bowls for four (Mother’s Ruin combines gin, spiced black tea-infused sweet vermouth, lemon, grapefruit and Champagne), a trio of Champagne cocktails (like the Marseille – apple brandy, Cognac, Benedictine, yellow Chartreuse, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters and Champagne) and a welcome quartet of beer cocktails, including the rambunctious Up In Smoke (Allagash Curieux, Islay Scotch, Fuji apple and lime). Oh, and there are 10 other concoctions, including a refreshing Ginger Julep served in a Mason jar.
The summer menu at H. Joseph Ehrmann’s Elixir in San Francisco, which uses organic ingredients whenever possible, includes lots of fresh fruit drinks. Right now that means the Emperor Norton’s Mistress (Buffalo Trace “Elixir Select” Bourbon, muddled fresh strawberries, Navan Vanilla Liqueur and Combier Orange Liqueur); Blackbeard (Clement Rhum Agricole, Appleton Estates Reserve Rum, blackberries muddled with fresh mint, lime juice, agave nectar and soda water); and Rancho Ancho No.3 (Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, muddled watermelon, ancho chili powder, lime juice and agave nectar).
That busy Richard Sandoval, who recently opened La Sandia in Santa Monica, also opened another Zengo in the same part of the world. There are lots of rums, tequilas, shochus, cachaças, Piscos and aguadientes featured in tasting flights, and guests can purchase and store personal bottles of Latin-Asian spirits at the bar for up to six months. Signature cocktails inspired by local classics are categorized by their main ingredient — sugarcane, agave or grain. Highlights include Tamarind-Togarashi and Pomelo-Mezcal Margaritas, a Mekhong Pina Horchata and a Three Citrus Shochu.
Chef and restaurateur David Myers, of Comme Ca LA, Sona and Pizzeria Ortica, will open a new Comme Ca with the celebrated 18A cocktail program at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in late December. The speakeasy-style bar inside the restaurant will feature handcrafted retro cocktails made with seasonal herbs, fruits and spices. Sam Ross, best known for his work at New York City’s Milk & Honey, will serve as a consultant on the cocktail list.
At Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa, Calif., chef Justin Miller’s market menu extends to the bar, with current cocktails including a Strawberry Bellini (strawberry purée and Val D'Oca Prosecco served in a sparkling wine glass) and a Mexican Gimlet (muddled golden yellow raspberries, mint, lemon juice, simple syrup, reposado tequila).