A few months ago, I raved about the totally awesome spring cocktails at Drago Centro, the esteemed Italian eatery in Downtown Los Angeles. Well, the seasons have changed, and so have the libations. Gone are mixologist Jaymee Mandeville’s fanciful uses of dill and honeycomb and kumquat. In their place are a new slate of drinks, many of which feature my most mortal enemy: BERRIES.
Avid readers of this blog know that I have some strange, woeful distaste for berries that makes me generally gag upon first taste, not to mention whiff. But given that being a food blogger is very serious business, I felt it was my God-given duty to bravely put aside my own apprehensions and dive headfirst into the fruity minefield that is the Drago Centro summer cocktail menu. Never has a media-comped meal been so fraught with anxiety.
Did I survive? Well, obviously yes. I’m here writing, aren’t I? But the trauma, the agony — was I able to rise above? Pictures of this most important journey after the jump…
Things start off with a humble and delicious charcuterie assortment. Drago definitely knows what’s up when it comes to bar nibbles.
Speaking of nibbles, here are some more. Again, quite tasty.
Our first cocktail: Summer Dalliance. Nolet’s Gin, St. George Absinthe, Lemon,
Crème De Violette, Bing Cherries, Prosecco. I’m okay with cherries; so there were no issues just yet for me.
The summer dalliance was very tasty; although, perhaps sliiiiiightly medicinal. Wow, I am such an obnoxious food blogger right now. Bottom line: it’s good.
Meanwhile, a panini arrives in a pouch. Just like the days of the Pony Express.
My first challenge: Down The Rabbit Hole (note the rabbit ears) – Novo Fogo Cachaca, Dimmi, Poppy Seed Ginger Syrup, Blackberries, Kiwi, Lime, Sage, Parfait Amour Foam. Blackberries are not my friend, but guess what? I tried this, and it was actually really good! Well, I mean, obviously it was good. But for me it was really good despite my ridiculous berry thing. It was actually one of my favorites of the night.
Speaking of favorites of the night, this is the Freshly Cut: Karlsson’s Vodka, Celery Juice, Lime Juice, Honeydew, Lime, Cucumber, Basil, Yuzu Bitters, Candy Cap Mushroom Bitters.
Hands down this cocktail was the best of the night. Unilaterally and universally, it was loved by everyone in attendance.
And here come the pizzas. They do it well.
This may look like the fruitiest of the fruity cocktails, but it’s anything but. Think Negroni. This is the Don’t Be Square, which features Poli Miele Grappa, Templeton Rye, Benedectine, Rock Sake, and Creole Bitters. Whiskey fans will enjoy this one. Heck, non-whiskey fans will enjoy it too.
Raspberries. My mortal enemy. More so than any other berry, these are my least favorite.
Behold the Modern Botanist: St. George Botanivore Gin, Byrrh, Lemon, Mint,
Raspberry White Pepper Soda.
I’m a touch apprehensive.
Going in for a sip. And yes, I realize that to most people, this looks like the tastiest drink in the world.
NOT SO BAD. Hey, this raspberry drink was actually pretty good!
Back to something that’s more in my comfort zone: the Jet Setter. It’s Famous Grouse Scotch, Truffle Honey Syrup, Licor 43, Lime, Fair Café.
Smoother than the LA weather.
Twist And Shout: Casa Noble Reposado, Hibiscus Lavender Tea, Lime, Agave, Hellfire Bitters, Mexican Papaya, Cilantro. Yes. A whole lot of YES.
A pair of sliders quietly enter the fray.
Ah. Strawberries. We meet again. This cocktail is the American Cherub: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Lillet Rose, Strawberry Shrub, Cherry Tomatoes, Toasted Fennel Tincture.
I brace for a strawberry overload.
Inspecting the goods.
Like I said, I really hate strawberries.
I’m going in!
This is happening.
I’m… I’m surviving!
My face instinctually contorts, but truth is… it’s good! And let’s face it, there’s hardly any strawberry in there. I’m just a big baby.
This is me waiting for everyone to applaud my bravery. HELLO?
One last hurdle: the White Picket Fence. Laird’s Apple Brandy, Peach Puree, Schizandra White Tea, Lemon, Egg White, and Forbidden Bitters. Surprise, surprise – I really don’t like peach. However, I do like forbidden things, especially bitters. I’m happy to announce that this — like all the other cocktails — was delicious.
A successful night had by all. Is it possible that I’ve taken the first major steps towards berry acceptance in my life? I hope so!
The City National Bank Plaza
525 South Flower Street, Suite 120
Los Angeles, CA 90071