The revival of Downtown Los Angeles continues, particularly as it pertains to great bars and mixology. Making a mark of its own is Drago Centro, which unveiled its Spring cocktail menu a few weeks ago with a media-comped tasting session at its bar. When I received the invite for this event, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. Don’t worry though — all ocular function has been retained. Still, the cocktail menu that came with the email was a sight to behold. I wanted to try each and every one of the twelve or so libations on the menu — a first for me.
Crafted by perhaps my new favorite bartender of all time Jaymee Mandeville, I can assure you these beverages rock. Let’s take a looksie, shall we?
The Airstream Libation: Pueblo Viejo Blanco Tequila, R. Jelínek Fernet, Toasted Coconut Infused Demerara, Fresh Lime, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Egg White. Quite lovely and a great way to start the evening.
Perhaps the most beautiful cocktail in all of Los Angeles, this the Yellow Jacket Fever: Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Chamomile Infused Honey, Black Peppercorns.
I mean, this is just downright sexy. And yes, that is honeycomb. Added bonus: tasted good too!
Here’s the exotically named Ver La Luz Del Día. A big hit. Kappa Pisco, Lillet Blanc, Hangar Vodka, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Basil.
Mandeville’s attention to detail in her garnishes really elevates the experience. Plus, it also gives me an opportunity to sound TOTALLY pretentious.
The Stepchild: Black Grouse Blended Scotch, Cardamaro, Kumquat Cordial, Orange Juice. Well received and highly drinkable.
Well, now. This is just getting ridiculous. The Nebbia Rossa: Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Campari, Bittermens Citron Sauvage, Dolin Blanc. All I see is mezcal and I’m pretty much sold already.
This is the Shotgun Wedding, which also happens to be my favorite drink of the evening (same goes for several of the other people at the event). Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Prosecco, Lemon Juice, Granny Smith Apples, Maple Sugar. Light, refreshing, and not nearly as sweet as you’d think. As Brad and Jane might say on Happy Endings, YUMMBERS.
Pulling in a close, close second place is this ditty, evocatively named Night and the City. Are you ready for this? Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Bittermens Hellfire, Miracle Mile Candy Cap Mushroom Bitters, Heirloom Tomato Shrub, Black Pepper and Squid Ink Syrup, Fresh Horseradish. I mean…
Very tasty. And yet another sexy drink.
Oh wait. Maybe THIS was the best drink of the night. Hard to say. All I can really tell you is that it’s a heaven in a lil’ jar. Formally, it’s known as the Cool Revival and contains Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, Cynar, Yuzu, Cucumber, With Lemon and Dill Meringue.
Here’s the Greetings from Xanadu, which features Banks 5 Island Rum, Pama, Java Juice, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice. It was the only misfire of the evening, proving to be entirely too sweet. Three people near me, however, LOVED it.
Gretings from Scandinavia. This is the Trädgård! Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, Cocchi Americano, Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters, Lemon Juice, Chives. Quite nice, but somewhat forgettable next to all the other standouts. Not a bad option though by any means.
The restaurant recently opened up a nifty outdoor area, replete with handy fire pit for warmth and/or self-immolation.
There’s also a great bar menu that’s available all day long. Here’s one impressive item: a massive, truffled calzone. Offensively delicious and only about $10.
A new pizza featuring mussels, among other things. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Oh hai, smoked salmon!
These oysters brought intense joy to my soul. And at only $5, they’re a steal.
Pork cracklin’s, which were indeed cracklin’. It’s salty and tasty, but go for the other items first.
As you may suspect, I enjoyed this experience JUST A TAD. Check it out for yourself:
The City National Bank Plaza
525 South Flower Street, Suite 120
Los Angeles, CA 90071