Friday, July 30, 2010

Ryan Magarian's Aviation Gin Hour at Rivera

On Tuesday evening bartender and partner in Aviation Gin Ryan Magarian hosted an Aviation Gin evening at the bar at Rivera, John Sedlar's downtown restaurant. Magarian, who is based in Portland, Oregon, was in Los Angeles straight from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, and he mixed up eight classic drinks, using Aviation Gin instead of the original liquor. He is pictured above with Julian Cox, the head bartender at Rivera.

Magarian said that many claim that these and other drinks don't work with different gins or liquors such as Aviation but that the key is to adjust the proportions so that the taste is right. If you leave the proportions the same, its not surprising that the cocktails do not work with different ingredients, he said.

Each classic cocktail was available for $8 each and I sampled the Last Word (above) and the Bee's Knees (below). The Last Word was made with Aviation Gin, Green Chartreuse, lime juice and Maraschino. The Aviation version was noticeably different than the standard Last Word, a little lighter. The Bees Knees was fine but suffered in comparison to the best version of the drink I have had, last week from Chris Bostick at the Varnish.

Aviation Gin, which is based in Portland, is expanding its distribution and Magarian mentioned that it will be available in all 50 states by the end of the year. It is unusual to see a bartender have a significant ownership stake in a liquor brand and I hope to see more bartender/mixologist driven distilled spirits on the market following in Magarian's footsteps.

You can taste his style of cocktails in Los Angeles at Westside Tavern in West LA and at the Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica, both of whose cocktail programs he designed.

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