There's an old myth that liquor can warm you up on a cold winter night. It might not be scientifically true, but it's still a great excuse for a cocktail once the weather turns.
Los Angeles had its first autumnal fog today, which signals the changing of the cocktail menus at local bars. Here are some of our favorites, along with the ingredients, in case you'd like to play mixologist at home for an upscale Halloween or drunken Thanksgiving.
Villains Tavern: The Lady Percy starts with a cider of 10 Bartlett pears and two Comice pears, juiced and stewed with dried apricots for five hours in a crock pot. You get what you pay for, of course: at home, stuff from a bottle will probably suffice. Each cocktail contains two ounces of Irish whiskey (Villains' choice is Tullamore Dew), a quarter-ounce each of lime and honey, two dashes of chocolate-chile bitters (a product that exists for home use!), and pear cider. For a fancy presentation, dust with chocolate
and garnish with two dried apricots on pick.
Cafe del Rey: This pumpkin cocktail includes pear-infused vodka (they use Svedka), Cointreau, pumpkin puree, bitters, simple syrup, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Be careful with the pumpkin puree: the drink requires less of the "main" ingredient than you probably imagine. (Image courtesy of Sara Altshul.)
Michael's: The new Apple Blush cocktail is bourbon-based (Noah's Mill here), but still bright and fruity. It's rounded out with Meyer lemon, "aged" cinnamon (which is probably true of the cinnamon in any home cook's kitchen), Fuji apple, and cranberry-pomegranate reduction.
Drago Centro: Michael Shearin has been winning awards and accolades as Drago Centro's beverage director, and his cocktail menu has been perhaps the most interesting Downtown since the restaurant opened. But Shearin left the restaurant group a few weeks ago, and bartender Jaymee Mandeville is creating the original cocktails now. Things look pretty promising: the White After Labor Day includes gin (Mandeville prefers Nolet's here), green chartreuse, fresh lemon juice, lavender water and egg white, topped with a Fernet-Branca mist.
Thirsty Crow: The Crow's Apple Pie Manhattan is a simple, three-ingredient drink, dependent on the correct ingredients. Leopold Apple Whiskey, Carpano Antica, a cinnamon-y, citrus-y sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters.
W Los Angeles - Westwood: Another simple cocktail, the Sugar & Spice + Everything Nice is apple- and cinnamon-infused bourbon combined with a touch of sweet vermouth. Looks like they brulé the apple garnish too; if you're handy with sugar and torches, go for it.
Hatfield's: In a cocktail shaker, add two ounces butternut squash syrup (or a bit of squash puree and a bit of simple syrup), two ounces of rum, a quarter ounce sour mix, half of a squeezed tangerine's juice, a dash of Angostura orange bitters, and if you want to follow the recipe strictly, a dash of Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter bitters. Shake with ice, add a splash of soda water and strain over ice, preferably into a Collins glass. If you've got one, garnish with a long spiral orange peel.
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