L.A.’s Best Cocktails, according to Jonathan Gold

It’s a Los Angeles-centric cocktail post, folks … so if you don’t live in the City of Angels or don’t plan to visit soon, this one might not hold your interest.  You never know, though — you could end up here one day!

Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer from the L.A. Weekly, has been drinking his way across town for quite a while now. (This is a job I would not mind having.) All the while, he’s been thinking about essence:

We have, I think, nearly come to agreement on what an essential restaurant might be in Los Angeles, a place that may have transcendent food or occupy a niche in the social ecosystem, but explains something to us about ourselves. Our ideas on the subject are firm. The nature of an essential cocktail may be more subjective. To one man we know, 55 essential cocktails means 55 glasses of Chivas, because that’s all he’ll ever drink. To us, an essential cocktail says something about L.A. [...]

Three years into the cocktailian revolution, there remains little agreement about what an essential bar should be, but a rough consensus about how an essential bar should be run. At the best bars, be it The Varnish or Tiki-Ti, syrups are fresh, juices are prepared daily, and the ice, whether chipped from a giant block or made by a $10,000 machine, is clear and cold. Even a novice can tell a great bar from a mediocre one by the sharpness of the report from the shakers.

But 55 essential cocktails? Why not 99? Why not 82? Why a number associated with that which Sammy Hagar cannot drive? Because I drive. Because I have a human liver. Because however much you may adore the saketini at that little place in Torrance, it is only essential if you happen to be eating a sliver of yellowtail sashimi there at the time.

Bottoms up!

He’s come up with his voluminous list of what he considers to be the 55 very best tipples in Los Angeles, at a variety of places undoubtedly familiar to most of us locals, as well as some I still have yet to try. I think you’ll find it’s a pretty solid list; perhaps it’ll give you some inspiration for a formidable (and, one would hope, weeks-long) bar crawl.