Spaghettini & The Dave Koz Lounge may not have been the best fit for Beverly Hills, but the owners and executive chef Scott Howard are back with more open and stylish replacement called Citizen. One of the reboot’s biggest benefits is a progressive cocktail program from “unlicensed barmacist” Josh Goldman, partners with Julian Cox in Soigné Group and the man behind the excellent cocktail program at Belcampo Meat Co. in Santa Monica.
Goldman’s cocktails at Citizen fall into four key categories: Boozy, Tiki, Citrusy, and After Dinner. I delved into tiki with a deluxe Mai Tai ($14) featuring Denizen 8-year rum, lime and lemon juice, L’orgeat, Clément Créole shrubb, and an orchid garnish.
Goldman is a student of cocktail history with an appreciation for L.A. He explained, “Tiki was invented in Los Angeles by Don the Beachcomber and the genre was huge by the ’60s. I love paying tribute to L.A. history and our tiki forefathers whenever I can! The two spots in Beverly Hills to be at back in the ’60s was Trader Vic’s at the Beverly Hilton, which closed down after 50 years in 2007 and is survived today by a poolside tribute bar, and Steve Crane’s Luau that closed in 1978. My inspiration for the Mai Tai would have to be Trader Vic’s because the Mai tai was the Trader’s most famous creation and a favorite in Beverly Hills during the ’60s.”
This is one of Goldman’s favorite Mai Tai variations to date. Trader Vic originally used J Wrey & Nephew 17yr rum as the base for his Mai Tai, and Goldman opted for Denizen 8yr Merchants Reserve, “the only rum in the world that is made to replicate the style of the 17yr.” He has some talented friends who work in the spirits world. Kevin Saharin and Jen Baker introduced him to an orgeat liqueur called L’Orgeat, which he uses in the drink. He subbed in Clement Créole shrubb for traditional Curaçao. At Citizen, the cocktail is served on tap over crushed ice with an edible orchid, refreshing mint sprigs and some “sparkly hippy dust.” I’d highly recommend the easy drinking cocktail before flavorful small plates start to fill your table.