Four more years.

Rachel Maddow:

We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe versus Wade. There will be no more Antonin Scalias and Samuel Alitos added to this court.

We’re not going to repeal health reform. Nobody is going to kill Medicare and make old people in this generation or any other generation fight it out on the open market to try to get themselves health insurance. We are not going to do that.

We are not going to give a 20 percent tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs like food stamps and kids’ health insurance to cover the cost of that tax cut.

We’re not make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control under the insurance plan that you’re on.

We are not going to redefine rape.

We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay people from getting married.

We are not going to double Guantanamo.

We are not eliminating the Department of Energy or the Department of Education or housing at the federal level.

We are not going to spend $2 trillion on the military that the military does not want. We are not scaling back on student loans because the country’s new plan is that you should borrow money from your parents.

We are not vetoing the DREAM Act. We are not self-deporting. We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt.

We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January. We are not going to have, as a president, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared gay kid, to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help and there was no apology, not ever.

We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton. We are not bringing Dick Cheney back. We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraq war. We are not going to do it.

We had the choice to do that if we wanted to do that, as a country. And we said no, last night, loudly.

Emphasis mine.

The Reagan Era is over. The myth that this is a “center-right” country is dead. This is a center-left country. The growing majority in this country believe more in the social contract than in I-got-mine-buddy-get-yours selfishness and non-altruistic individualism. This country believes more in the liberal fashion of letting people live their lives for who they are, they way they want to, rather than the conservative fashion of “we’re going to make you live your lives the way we want you to live your lives.” It’s concern for your fellow humans and citizens over concern for nothing other than your wallet, and I don’t believe there’s any turning back.

If you happened to have FOX “News” turned on, you saw a spectacle for the ages, and some truly great television. It seemed as if not a single conservative saw this coming. Why? “They were operating at a self-imposed information disadvantage.” Conor Friersdorf:

It is easy to close oneself off inside a conservative echo chamber. And right-leaning outlets like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s show are far more intellectually closed than CNN or public radio. If you’re a rank-and-file conservative, you’re probably ready to acknowledge that ideologically friendly media didn’t accurately inform you about Election 2012. Some pundits engaged in wishful thinking; others feigned confidence in hopes that it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy; still others decided it was smart to keep telling right-leaning audiences what they wanted to hear. […]

Conservatives were at a disadvantage because Romney supporters like Jennifer Rubin and Hugh Hewitt saw it as their duty to spin constantly for their favored candidate rather than being frank about his strengths and weaknesses. What conservative Washington Post readers got, when they traded in Dave Weigel for Rubin, was a lot more hackery and a lot less informed about the presidential election.

Conservatives were at an information disadvantage because so many right-leaning outlets wasted time on stories the rest of America dismissed as nonsense. WorldNetDaily brought you birtherism. Forbes brought you Kenyan anti-colonialism. National Review obsessed about an imaginary rejection of American exceptionalism, misrepresenting an Obama quote in the process, and Andy McCarthy was interviewed widely about his theory that Obama, aka the Drone Warrior in Chief, allied himself with our Islamist enemies in a “Grand Jihad” against America. Seriously?

Conservatives were at a disadvantage because their information elites pandered in the most cynical, self-defeating ways, treating would-be candidates like Sarah Palin and Herman Cain as if they were plausible presidents rather than national jokes who’d lose worse than George McGovern.

How many months were wasted on them?

How many hours of Glenn Beck conspiracy theories did Fox News broadcast to its viewers? How many hours of transparently mindless Sean Hannity content is still broadcast daily? Why don’t Americans trust Republicans on foreign policy as they once did? In part because conservatism hasn’t grappled with the foreign-policy failures of George W. Bush. A conspiracy of silence surrounds the subject. Romney could neither run on the man’s record nor repudiate it. The most damaging Romney gaffe of the campaign, where he talked about how the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes are a lost cause for Republicans? Either he was unaware that many of those people are Republican voters, or was pandering to GOP donors who are misinformed. Either way, bad information within the conservative movement was to blame.

In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood’s convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama’s America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense — not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there’s no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it’s often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption.

This is a come-to-Jesus moment, conservatives. Can we please just blow up Bullshit Mountain? If you have feasible, workable ideas for the future of this country, we want to hear them. But the voters have demonstrated that this country is tired of all the bullshit, hysteria, negativity and outright lies. Back to Rachel:

Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately president of the United States, again.

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math.

And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing.

And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone`s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually.

And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism. […]

Last night the Republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them in real time, in real humiliating time, not believe it, even as it was happening to them.

And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center. You guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up.

There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there.

If the Republican Party and the conservative movement and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation.


We’re also tired of the obstructionism (and we’re keenly aware of the fact that the ONLY reason the Republicans held on to the House was the Republican-skewed gerrymandering that happened during the redistricting of 2012). It’s time to start cooperating and working together instead of being the Party of No. Conservatives, if you refuse it truly is the death of your party. From now on, the words “tea party” should only refer to a gathering of people who consume a hot brewed beverage.

Is Obama a perfect leader? By no means. He’s achieved amazing things (despite the Republicans’ destructive goal of attempting to block everything he wanted to do), achieved actual health care reform for the first time (as flawed as it is) but kept and even escalated some egregious elements of the Bush administration. There are four more years to correct that path now.

And what did the American people achieve last night?

There are now more women serving in Congress than any time in history.

We have the first openly gay senator, and the first Asian-American female senator (who’s also Buddhist; as someone amusingly put it, “There go your religious rights, conservatives!” … not).

Marriage equality passed by initiative in three states and a fourth refused to constitutionally ban it. That barn door can never be closed now.

It’s time for America to move forward. Live long and prosper.


A darker flower

You may remember the Golden Dahlia. If you do, I both commend and thank you. Commend, because your memory may be tenacious as the proverbial better mousetrap. Thank, because that’s a drink I’m still quite proud of, and one that I think is simple in all the good, even the best ways. What has this got to do with anything? Read on.

I like Kraken. Hell, I have a certain fondness for Captain Morgan’s, as long as it’s in a Cable Car (which I first tasted and enjoyed, believe it or not, at the beautiful Petrossian Bar at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas). But yeah, I like Kraken, I think it’s a fine product, and I’ve wanted for the longest time to do something interesting with it. But what, O what would that be?

That was indeed the question. You could arguably call me lazy, but I was quite happy to fall back on a formula I had previously established as successful, at least as a start. On various evenings, I tried two or perhaps three slightly different variations on the Golden Dahlia theme (rum + amaro modifier) with Kraken as the base spirit and various amari as modifier. Despite my mental conjurations and resultant high expectations, none were successful. (I can be a harsh and demanding but realistic judge of my own efforts.) I found myself feeling frustrated and thwarted. Deep down, I knew this should work. Why did it not?

Weeks went by.

I mean, seriously. I’m not joking. Weeks went by. I pondered, but did not know what to do. And then…the magic happened. As it has done before, but still. I said something along the lines of, “I’m happy with this as far as it goes, but I want it to be, you know, punchier somehow.” And yet I didn’t know quite what to do to punch it up. Fortunately, Chuck had a thought: “I know what will give it some oomph.” The moving finger writes, and having writ, etc.

And so: Kraken, because I like it. (I have a superawesome long-sleeve promo t-shirt! Which, yes, I do wear!) Ramazzotti, because I do so love a good amaro, especially as a rum modifier. Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum, for the oomph. Luxardo Fernet, because it reminds me of NYC (where I first tasted it, at Babbo), and for its clean yet complex flavor that for me is like unto Fernet Branca, but with clear black pepper rather than menthol. Orange bitters, for their brightness.

Considering her dark hue and kinship with her lighter, golden sibling, and meaning and intending no disrespect of poor Elizabeth Short, I have called this concoction:

Black Dahlia
created by Wesly Moore and Chuck Taggart

2 oz. Kraken Black Spiced Rum
3/4 oz. Ramazzotti
1/4 Lemon Hart 151
Barspoon Luxardo Fernet
3-4 dashes orange bitters (your preference; I like Miracle Mile, Regan’s No. 6, and Angostura)

Stir over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist, if you feel extravagant; it is quite fine without.

Dark. Bitter. Mysterious.

You may enjoy it.


You had to show up on the seventh anniversary of Katrina? Isaac, you’re a dick.

On the good side, this storm is not anything like Katrina. It’s smaller, less organized, and landed as a Category 1. The storm surge is not as high, nor are the winds. New Orleans has a competent and intelligent mayor running the city this time. (My favorite quote from his now-happening press conference, regarding looters: “If you loot, you’re gettin’ an orange suit.” Speaking of which, looting incidents have been minimal; only four reported, and all looting suspects were arrested.) The New Orleans levee and floodwall system is holding up well.

On the bad side … it’s a lot of wind and rain. A lot. Lots of trees, street signs and light poles are down in New Orleans, plus power lines down and transformers blown. Most of the city is without power, there’s some street flooding although it’s not too bad, varying amounts of debris on the streets (which nobody should be trying to traverse now anyway). Gambit just tweeted that “there’s crap all over the roads in the CBD.”) It’s not an apocalyptic disaster but there’s damage and it’s a huge mess.

Everybody I know back home is okay so far but nerves are frayed. People are concerned, nervous and irritated (although some, like my friend Andrew, are defiant). Even worse, the storm keeps stalling and moving very slowly, and won’t get the frak out of the area in a timely manner. The analogy I keep seeing from the NOLA Twitterverse is that Isaac is like that unwanted guest at your party who gets sloppy drunk, makes a big mess, and stays way too long. It’s going to go on all day today and it’s going to be tomorrow before things let up.

People keep saying that this stalling is what makes it feel like a lot more than “just” a Category 1. It’s been worse than expected, especially down in Plaquemines, Grand Isle, etc. It’s been downgraded back to a tropical storm by Wednesday afternoon, but that’s still a lot of wind and rain that’s sitting on top of southeast Louisiana and crawling like a snail.

On the worse side … lower Plaquemines Parish is bad. There’s been levee overtopping and severe flooding in Braithwaite, Louisiana, with flood waters overtopping roofs and over 100 people have had to be rescued so far.

Then there’s the dumbass national media.

As my pal Ed Branley pointed out … BRAITHWAITE IS NOT NEW ORLEANS. It’s outside the levee protection system. It’s a local levee that was overtopped, not the federal levees. Showing images of Braithwaite and telling the country that New Orleans is flooded is wrong and irresponsible. As Mayor Landrieu said, “Sometimes the national media has a challenge with geography.” To say the least. Apparently it’s too much of a challenge for them to, oh, look at a map or know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth.

I keep hearing a lot of complaints about some asshat on the Weather Channel who’s got a boner for panic-inducing statements and demeanor, too. I don’t know why anyone would watch anything but local news right now anyway. We may not have Nash Roberts anymore, but I want the locals who are following in his footsteps. I want Angela Hill and Bob Breck and Margaret Orr. Screw the Weather Channel and the Wall Street Journal; here’s what you should be watching:


DirecTV Channel 325 is alternating between all these stations’ news coverage as well.

That said, Ed said that the aforementioned stations have been failing at social media. Apparently WWL outsources its socal media outside the city, and the other stations haven’t been doing a good job with it. If you’re following on Twitter, here are some feeds you should be following:


There’s gonna be another day of this. Hang in there, Louisiana.

A Black Manhattan in Little Italy

I love happy accidents.

As we planned our long-awaited first trip to New York City, I asked lots of folks for advice. One came from New York transplant-to-L.A. bartender Joe Swifka, who among other places highly recommended Torrisi Italian Specialties in Little Italy. I looked them up, found them highly regarded and looked forward to our visit. However, I somehow failed to notice that they’re closed on Mondays, which was the day we of course chose to go there.

Frak. Now what?

Well, here we are on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. As if this is the only restaurant anywhere around! I know that Mulberry Street has developed into something of a tourist trap, but I’d heard that there were good new places to be found, with a little help from the Internets. We walked across the street and a couple of doors down and found a place that was open, a place I wasn’t familiar with called Rubirosa Ristorante .. where I proceeded to have some of the best Italian food I’d ever had.

Rubirosa Ristorante, 235 Mulberry Street, Little Italy, NYC

Happy accidents. Love ’em. More on the food in a bit.

I was very taken by their cocktail menu, too. Out of ten cocktails listed, four contained amaro of some kind and all of them looked really good. This was the one that really attracted my attention, though.

It wouldn’t be difficult to detect a particular joy for Manhattan variations on this weblog and in my taste, and this was one I hadn’t come across before. It’s simple, just swapping out the sweet Italian vermouth for a bittersweet Sicilian amaro called Averna, which is one of my favorites — herbal, bitter but quite pleasant, citrusy, with a touch of floral and caramel flavors and a hint of licorice. Dashes of aromatic and orange bitters give the cocktail even more backbone. This was a wonderful drink, and another great example of how something fairly simple — two ingredients and a couple of dashes of bitters — could also be so complex.

Captivated as I was, for some reason I took a picture of the menu to remember the drink selection and not a picture of the ruttin’ drink, which I was happy to reproduce at home with a quick and dirty Instagram snap.

Black Manhattan


2 ounces rye whiskey (Rittenhouse 100 proof, preferably)
1 ounce Amaro Averna
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash orange bitters (Miracle Mile or Regans’ would be my choice)

Combine with ice, stir for 20-30 seconds and strain into chilled cocktail couple.
Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

This would not be my only Black Manhattan in New York, either … I received another one as a welcoming cocktail in another borough. More on that in another post. First, the food!

The pizza at Rubirosa was some of the best I’ve ever had, right up there with Domenica in New Orleans. This is real Italian-style pizza, not swill from corporate delivery trucks. Fresh ingredients, thin, crisp crust with sauce almost all the way to the edge, which itself is crisp and crunchy like a cracker — my very favorite style of pizza crust. This one is sweet sausage, broccoli rabe, roasted garlic and mozzarella (my favorite of the two, although I enjoyed both):

Pizza with sweet sausage, broccoli rabe, roasted garlic & mozzarella

Also, mushroom, prosciutto, peas and pecorono:

Pizza with mushroom, prosciutto, peas and pecorino cheese

Spaghetti alla chitarra, with meatballs. Perfect house-made pasta, perfect meatballs. My granny wasn’t Italian but if I had a Nonna she’d have said, “Not bad!” Which would mean, just about the best ever although probably not as good as hers because nobody’s is, even though she doesn’t exist. (Following? No? Have another Black Manhattan.)

Spaghetti alla chitarra, with meatballs.

This was easily the best cannoli I’ve ever had. Leave the gun. DEFINITELY take this cannoli.

The filling was light as a feather yet still rich, and not as dense and overpowering as some cannoli tend to be. Perfectly crisp shell, filled by hand to order and not sitting around getting soggy all day. Perfetto!

The best cannoli I've ever had

We had a few other things as well — some very good arancine, some lovely wine. I didn’t take a lot of photos that day, as we were too busy just having a great meal and great drinks and a great time with our friends, all of whom were mercilessly slagging me for how completely banjaxed I got at the Midtown gastropub where he had dinner following my epic cocktail consumption the night before at Clover Club. I suppose I had that coming.


Midsummer Menu at Big Bar

Rumours of my disappearance due to abduction by aliens are highly exaggerated. Apparently for a while I slipped into the nascent definition of the term “cocktail blogger” as offered by my pal Jake Parrott, who describes a cocktail blogger as “someone who does not write about cocktails on the Internets.” Or something like that.

And no, I don’t write solely about cocktails on the Internets, but it’s true that I haven’t been writing about anything lately. Fortunately it’s not a case of mojo-loss-in-its-entirety, but I most certainly think that this ol’ weblog was in dire need of a jumpstart. Such a jumpstart, in the form of an epic visit to one of our favorite bars, came last week, as if one had attached jumper cables to … um. Well, before I come up with an entry for the World’s Worst Metaphor Contest, I’ll stop making metaphors and start talking about drinking.

It’d be hard to pick just one bar to designate as our “local,” as there are three that we visit most frequently, but if I had to pick one it’d probably be Big Bar at The Alcove Café in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. (The other two would be Bar & Kitchen at the O Hotel downtown, and Bar 1886 at The Raymond in Pasadena.) Not walkable, sadly, but being less than 15 minutes from the house and the closest of the three makes it Close Enough. We love the mightily talented bar staff, the food from The Alcove is terrific, the bar is open and sunny, and as much as we like hanging at the bar with all the bartenders there’s a lovely patio to enjoy the outdoors as well.

Last Thursday we got together with a bunch of friends to try the brand-new midsummer cocktail menu at Big Bar — every single one. Yes, of course, we shared; eleven cocktails in one evening would be a bit much, don’t you think? In response to one friend who responded to my Instagram posts with “Good lord, you must be totally wasted by now,” we took a few sips and passed them along. It was a whirlwind of different spirits and flavors and styles, and all mighty, mighty good.

Mixicologist of tipicular fixins Dan Long took us through the through the menu, and began, as one does, at the beginning:

Thorn in My Side

The Thorn In My Side featured a new spirit that I’d been itching to try — Knob Creek Rye. I’ve been a fan of their Bourbon, which comes in at a robust 100 proof. The rye is just as robust in the proof department, and tasting it on its own was worth the wait. Beautiful rye grain spice, lovely notes from the oak, a broad range of rye spice of the brown-baking-spices variety, with cinnamon on the forefront, plus some fruitiness on the palate (stone fruits) and a waft of vanilla. Not nearly as hot as you’d expect at 100 proof, smooth and lovely and spicy and mmm.

Thorn in My Side

Dan used this in a tall drink that reminded me of a buck but wasn’t quite a buck — there was fresh ginger rather than ginger ale, smoothed out and sweetened by bianco vermouth (Martini & Rossi in this case), and the fizz came not from ginger ale but from Blackthorn cider. Dan said he had bucks in mind when concocting this recipe but wanted to go in a different direction. I liked that direction a lot — spicy and refreshing.

Gin & Tonic Cocktail

The next menu item said Gin and Tonic Cocktail, but it wasn’t a gin and tonic. How might you take elements of the standard gin and tonic (a lovely tall drink, and nothing wrong with that at all, oh no) and convert that into a stirred cocktail with no fizz? Beefeater gin to begin, of course — pretty much my go-to gin for a G&T. The quinine that you’d get in a tonic water comes in the form of a quinquina, a style of aperitif wine containing quinine. In this drink Dan used the wonderful Kina l’Avion d’Or from the endlessly interesting Tempus Fugit Spirits. (“Kina” is short for quinquina, and the rest of the name translates as “The Golden Aeroplane.”) The bitter bite comes from cinchona bark, source of quinine, plus wormwood as in vermouth, with lovely citrus notes from orange peel and other botanicals. The flavor profile is like “quince and marmalade,” as described by its makers; I’d go right along with that. Despite the bitter components it’s got a nice sweetness to it and is fantastic on its own over ice. In cocktails it’s amazing, and works well where you might use Lillet Blanc, such as in a Corpse Reviver No. 2 or 20th Century Cocktail. If we’re going to have a gin and tonic fresh lime is called for, of course. More citrusy aromatic complexity comes from the marvelous Bergamot Bitters made by Miracle Mile Bitters Co. right here in L.A. (if you’re a fan of tea, Earl Grey, hot, you’ll want these bitters in your collection), and the drink is finished with a spritz of kaffir lime tincture on top.

Creative and delightful. This was one of my favorites on the menu.

Picon Punch (variation)

Ah, the classic Picon Punch! After a visit to Bakersfield, the unlikely home of a number of Basque restaurants (Picon Punch, made with the now-defunct Amer Picon being the signature drink of Basque folks), Dan wanted to put Picon Punch on the new menu. Two complications arose: 1) classic Amer Picon isn’t even made anymore, and what remains — two low-proof descendent varieties called Picon Bière (for mixing with beer) and Picon Club (for mixing with wine) aren’t available in the United States and aren’t all that great, and 2) Torani Amer, the quite excellent California-made substitute for Amer Picon, invented primarily for use in Picon Punches to satisfy the local Basque-descended folks’ demand, isn’t stocked at the bar.

Dan decided to go a different direction, using the Italian Amaro Montenegro to provide the orange and bitter base for the drink. It’s quite different from the old-style Picon Punch; Montenegro is a gentler amaro and the bitter orange flavor is far more subdued. It has a broader range of herbal notes than contemporary Picon or Torani Amer, which gives this drink a complex and interesting profile.

The classic Picon Punch would typically include a small float of Cognac on top, but Big Bar incorporates it into the drink, and not just any garden-variety Cognac either. Pierre Ferrand, one of my favorite Cognac producers, recently introduced Ferrand 1840, a Cognac made in the style of “three-star” Cognacs of the early 1800s, before the phylloxera epidemic nearly destroyed the wine and brandy grape crops in France in the 1870s-1880s. Bottled at 90 proof, higher than most Cognacs, it’s got a “punchier” profile that makes it ideal for mixing, and it’ll stand up to other ingredients and assert its flavor more readily.

This was a really nice variation. I’d be curious to try it with Amaro Ramazzotti and Amaro CioCiaro too.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates!

Oh yeah, we had some food too. One simply can’t go wrong with Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese, can one? (No, one can’t.) I don’t need to tell you how good this was. One of the more astonishing dishes was something I wouldn’t ordinarily touch — tempeh. I’m still not entirely sure what it is — some soy product that vegans eat, and something I once tried in a vegan household and politely nodded while inwardly recoiling. It’s all in the preparation, however, and when you take French-fry-sized pieces of tempeh, toss them in Buffalo wing sauce, batter and deep-fry them and serve them waith a herbed ranch dipping sauce … well, again, it’s hard to go wrong. I still find the texture of tempeh to be odd, but these were really good, and if you’re in the mood for something vegan yet with some protein in it, this would be your appetizer of choice.

We also tried their new “fish sticks” — thin strips of fresh fish (I forgot what kind, d’oh) lightly battered and perfectly fried, crisp and not at all greasy, along with sweet potato fries. If you’re the kind who enjoys classic fish and chips but feels bloated after the typical pub serving in which you have a piece of fried fish the size of a rolled-up newspaper (and which would leave massive grease stains on an actual piece of newspaper), you can enjoy this very much and still be able to take a deep breath afterward. There was also a plate of the beloved carnitas sliders which disappeared faster than you would in the middle of a shark feeding frenzy. That was the case with all the dishes other than the dates, hence the lack of photos. Quite understandable.

Okay, back to drinking!

The Most Interesting Cocktail in the World

This was the contender for Our Favorite Cocktail of the Evening (although we enjoyed them all and two others tied) — The Most Interesting Cocktail In The World, the brainchild of Big Bar bartender Matt Schaefer. Why is it the most interesting cocktail in the world? I’ll just recite the ingredients: Del Maguey Mezcal Vida. Fresh lime juice. Cinnamon syrup. Miracle Mile Chocolate-Chili Bitters. A dusting of cayenne on top.

Agave. Smoke. Spice. Sourness, in the unique way lime makes a cocktail exotic. Chocolate. Heat. It all combines into something greater than the sum of its parts. You marvel at the way all these elements play with one another. You say “Wow!” and smile. That, my friends, is an interesting and delightful cocktail. Go have one soon.

Selero Gin Fizz

In the Selero Gin Fizz Dan said he was going for “the perfect brunch drink,” and this fills that bill exactly. The classic silver gin fizz — gin, citrus, sugar, egg white, soda — here has some intriguing additions. Plymouth is the gin, natch. The citrus shifts from lemon to lime — again, that exotic lime flavor (as much as I love lemon, I find lime so much more exotic; that’s just the word for it for me). Instead of sugar or simple syrup … green Chartreuse. Sweetness yes, but the oomph of a 110-proof liqueur and nearly endless herbal complexity. The key, killer ingredient? Celery.

Not the celery spear you see sticking out of your Bloody Mary which far too many people discard, not even some of the various brands of celery bitters that have arisen during the cocktail Renaissance (Bitter Truth, Scrappy’s). The “secret ingredient” that they’re happy to share with you is Bittermens Orchard Street Celery Shrub — not a bitters per se, but a blend of brine, celery and other flavors with a vinegar base, reminsicent of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda, a beloved New York staple (aka, “The Jewish Champagne”). The final aromatic touch is a sprinkle of celery seed on the foam on top of the drink. You get it on the palate and in the nose; that combination of senses not only makes the celery stand up to the herbal blast that is green Chartreuse but has them dance together beautifully. I had no idea how well celery and Chartreuse went together until I tasted this drink. Just marvelous, and the perfect fizz for a Saturday or Sunday morning before you start your breakfast or brunch.

Belanda Cocktail

The Belanda Cocktail was another surprise — this one’s just mixed in the glass, with no ice, stirring or shaking. It’s in the style of a type of 19th Century classic called a scaffa, in which the ingredients were mixed in a glass with no ice. My favorite recent example of this is Bobby Heugel’s signature drink from his bar Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, called the Brave.

Dan wanted this one chilled, though; the flavors weren’t working for him at room tempterature, but stirring with ice drew the flavors too far apart. His solution — refrigerate the ingredients, then mix. Perfect. The Bols Barrel-Aged Genever, apricot liqueur and East India sherry are kept refrigerated for this drink, combined in the glass and dashed with what the bar calls “improved bitters” — a combination of 1 part Angostura bitters, 1 part maraschino and 1/2 part absinthe. Dan was inspired to use this blend after reading about it in gaz regan‘s latest book. This was unusual and wonderful; I love that barrel-aged genever!

Chaton de Mer

Next came another that seems ideal for mornings and brunch, the Chaton de Mer — Sailor Jerry spiced rum, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon, grapefruit and topped with sparkling wine. The spiced rum and St. Germain work unsurprisingly well together.

Sal Paradise

This one Dan described as “the perfect patio sipper,” the Sal Paradise (named for the protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road). Oro Torontel Pisco, grapefruit, lime, honey syrup, Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters and tonic. Oro is a very interesting pisco producer; in addition to an acholado-style pisco blended from several different grapes, a fairly typical style, they also produce piscos made from the individual varietals. The Torontel grape produces gorgeously floral and aromatic pisco, perfect in this combination of ingredients, and the kicker is the sour cherry bitters. Next time we sit outside this is the one I’m ordering first.

La Rosita

There’s one classic on the new menu, and I was glad to see it was an old favorite, the La Rosita. Tequila, sweet and dry vermouths, Campari and Angostura. The recipe is at the above link if you’d like to try this one at home; we frequently do!

Jet Stream

There had to be at least one Tiki drink on the menu, and this one is a powerhouse. The Jet Stream is Big Bar’s take on the Navy Grog, once upon a time my favorite and most oft-ordered tiki drink. (Longtime L.A. denizens might remember the late, lamented House of Lee in Pacific Palisades. They served the same Americanized Chinese food as they had since opening in 1950, but had a marvelous tiki bar with all the classics like Zombies, Scorpions, Fog Cutters and Navy Grog. I miss them.) This one combines THREE cane spirits — Zaya rum, a gorgeously sweet 12-year-old rum from Trinidad; El Dorado 12 year, a Demerara rum from Guyana that’s one of my favorites; and the 2-year barrel-aged expression of Novo Fogo cachaça. A thwap of bitterness comes from some Campari (reminding me fondly of the Bitter Mai Tai), with the sweet and sour elements brought in by a special house blend they call “LGH Fuel” — a mixture of fresh lime, grapefruit and honey.

This one’ll knock you on your butt — gently, and with love. Boy, is it good. I love the blending of rums, a tiki staple, and the complexity you get here from those two rums along with a barrel-aged cachaça is terrific, and tempts you to schlurp it down dangerously quickly. (Take your time; it’s worth it.) Bravo on this one, y’all … another of our very favorites.

St. Anne's Helper

Finishing up the menu is St. Anne’s Helper, an example of my beloved “brown, bitter and stirred” — the Manhattan variations so close to my heart. This one’s based on a staple of our home bar, Eagle Rare 10-year Bourbon (which we buy in 1.5 liter bottles), with Carpano Antica as the vermouth, Miracle Mile’s miraculous Forbidden Bitters as the aromatic bitter, and the addition of a nice dose of digestivo, Amaro Meletti (caramelly and cinnamony with floral notes of violets and a bit of saffron). The name was inspired by a stroll Dan took through the French Quarter in New Orleans, where St. Ann(e) appears on everything from street names to churches to hotels to the Society of St. Anne Marching Club on Mardi Gras day. I think she’d like this one as much as I did.

Dan, mixicologizing

It was an epic evening, and one in which we walked out under our own power, thanks to the virtues of sharing! Thanks to Wesly, Louis, Daniel, Fiona and Caroline for sharing, and thanks a million to our pals Dan Long and Eugene Lee for their hospitality, and for their talent running the program at Big Bar, and to general manager Sean Loeffel as well.

Big Bar’s like a second home to us — go there and you’ll see why.