José Andrés may be working to redefine the way Angelenos view restaurant dining, but he can’t do it alone. At The Bazaar, the innovative Spaniard has surrounded himself with talented, creative people like beverage director Lucas Paya (a fellow El Bulli alum) and lead bartender Ben Browning, who have helped to ensure the cocktail program occupies the same rarefied air as the kitchen.
Paya and Browning are firm believers in collaboration. To make the best coffee cocktail possible for weekend brunch, they recently worked with Intelligentsia’s Nick Griffith to redefine the Irish Coffee. SLS Hotel is a wholesale account for Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea and Griffith is responsible for training the restaurant’s staff in all coffee matters. He recently placed second at the United States Barista Championship and regularly creates signature espresso drinks, so he was well suited for the task.
“The approach to cocktails with coffee is simple,” says Griffith. “BALANCE. You need balance in every drink, whether a mixed drink or signature coffee drink.”
Paya wanted to “put together a list of cocktails recognizable at brunch, familiar to everybody,” but to “give them a trick to make things a little different…more sophisticated or presented in a different way.” Spanish Coffee was no exception.
Spanish Coffee ($14) is a variation on Irish Coffee that uses premium Spanish brandy (Duque d’Alba) instead of Irish whiskey. Brandy fits better with The Bazaar’s Spanish theme and according to Paya, “It’s a much more delicate drink with brandy, softer, more integrated,” They begin by rimming a martini glass with orange juice and rolling it in orange zest-infused sugar. Add 2 oz. fresh brewed coffee, 2 oz. fresh espresso and 1 oz. brandy to the glass, then allow 3 rocks of brown sugar to dissolve in the hot liquid. Whisk cold cream until it develops a thicker texture, then layer it on top of the coffee. Finish with fresh-grated orange zest. The balanced cocktail delivers a remarkable textural and temperature contrast.
Griffith worked with Paya and Browning to develop several other coffee cocktails, including a variation on a White Russian. There’s a chance you’ll find more seasonally inspired coffee cocktails at The Bazaar.