Caroline on Crack founder Caroline Pardilla’s e-mail arrived on December 28, enlisting a crack group of cocktail commandos to join her and “L.A. cocktail ringleader” Aidan Demarest on a bar crawl. It was the rare opportunity to hit top bars in Hollywood, Los Feliz, Pasadena and downtown…in one night…with a designated driver…with friends…and the tour was sponsored by Plymouth Gin. There was only one possible answer: hell yes!
On January 31, the Blogger Bar Hop convened at The Spare Room. We connected with fellow bloggers, Demarest and our host, Plymouth Gin West Coast Brand Ambassador Erick Castro. Several bloggers started by bowling on the Spare Room’s twin lanes in surprisingly stylish shoes. I stuck near the bar, taking a couple stabs at the photo booth, which was out of whack, and catching up with the rest of the bloggers, Castro, Demarest and Spare Room bartender Naomi Schimek, who ended up joining us on the crawl. Demarest is a seasoned bar pro. When asked about the night’s seemingly ambitious itinerary, he said, “Seven bars? That’s a light night.”
The general idea was to keep tabs of each cocktail, of which there were many, on a columned score card. Our “amuse bouche” was of ladled glass of L.A. Christmas Punch (aka Blogger Punch).
The recipe came from Castro, who became well known for making punches at San Francisco venues like Rickhouse before becoming a brand ambassador. His latest punch combined Plymouth gin with pineapple gum syrup, Earl Grey tea, Velvet Falernum, lemon juice and spice.
The other cocktail that people seemed to really enjoy was You Drink Our Milkshake, created by Spare Room bartender Eugene (pictured) and named by Mr. Demarest.
Demarest described the drink as a “deconstructed White Russian, a combination of There Will Be Blood and the Big Lebowski.” The fairly sweet cocktail involves cream and lemon zest, dry shaken, poured over espresso liqueur, creme de cacao and vodka.
The bell tolled 8 and we descended to the ground floor of the Roosevelt, where a trolley awaited our arrival. We boarded the open-air vehicle on a cold night (for Los Angeles). That’s when the night entered another gear. Schimek started singing “Don’t Cry For Me, West Covina” and Demarest started pouring Moet. The trolley started zig-zagging through Hollywood Boulevard, but Demarest held steady, saying, “I can pour Champagne in an Indy car.”
#BloggerBarHop Stop #2 was at Big Bar. Alcove Bakery & Cafe owner Tom Trellis took over the adjacent Village Gourmet in October and installed Juan Sevilla as lead bartender. Trellis sent out sliders made from several different animals, including beef, lamb and ahi, plus bacon-wrapped dates filled with oozing goat cheese. Why have I not had those dates before?
Bartenders Juan Sevilla, Mia Sarazen and Rosie Ruiz made gin cocktails using Plymouth, including the Wink, a gin Sazerac; and a Merry Widow with Plymouth gin, benedictine, Dolin dry vermouth, Angostura bitters and an absinthe rinse, served in a coupe.