Friday, December 10, 2010

Winter Cocktails have arrived at La Descarga

It is that time of year, when there is a chill in the ocean breeze and the mind races to the season, pondering what winter cocktails are available to savor, preferably in a comfortable armchair.  La Descarga has both the armchair seating and a frisky new list of libations created by Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni for your enjoyment.  Last night I was joined by an all-star group of cocktail aficionados including Ron from LushAngeles, Caroline from Caroline on Crack, Daniel from Thirsty in LA, and John from SocialDomain as we sampled our way through the new options, in order to find our favorites to share with you.

Tapping the Admiral 
The most unusual of the new offerings is the Barrel Aged Tapping the Admiral. Zaya Rum, Cherry Heering, Carpano Antica and Angostura Bitters are mixed together and aged in Tuthilltown Four Grain Whiskey barrels for two weeks.  The Scaffa style drink is served neat, at room temperature.  No ice, no chilled glass, nowhere for the subtleties of the cocktail to hide.  It is boozy and delicious and has a syrupy texture to it.  If you prefer your scotch or aged rum neat, then this cocktail should suit you nicely.  Scaffa is a style of cocktail that is neither shaken or stirred, but in which the ingredients are simply added to the glass.  The name derives from an old Norse term meaning "to make something yourself."  They were popular during the 1860s to 1920s when ice was sometimes scarce or expensive, according to Livigni (via Bariana).  This was the first Scaffa I have seen on a Los Angeles cocktail menu.

The Castilian
Rye at a Rum Bar? Yes, if it's the Havana Mobster. There is a shortage of Rittenhouse 100 Rye at bars all over the country. La Descarga foresaw the shortage and stocked up, so they have plenty to last them through the drought. While other bars are substituting other ryes in their Manhattan cocktails, La Descarga has added a Rittenhouse 100 cocktail, the Havana Mobster, to its menu. It includes lemon and orange juices as well as grenadine. The Mobster is a boozy drink with a strong citrus flavor; a spirit forward cocktail.

Another winner was the Cora Middleton, a frothy cocktail made with Appleton Reserve Rum, raspberry syrup, lemon juice, sugar, egg white, lemon zest and our old favorite Angostura bitters. This is a shaken cocktail and despite the sugar it is not too sweet. The froth from the egg white gives it a pleasant consistency.

Not all the new drinks are as noteworthy. I found the Castilian to be too sweet for my palate. It includes Bacardi Anejo Rum as its base spirit and Peychaud bitters, sugar and Aguardiente. The La Lupe is made with Leblon Cachaca, lime juice, St. Vincent's coconut goodness, Velvet Falernum and tonic water. If you don't like the taste of alcohol, this would be my recommendation as it is quite a mellow drink with the light flavor of the coconut predominating.

Don't worry, favorites such as the Hemingway Daiquiri (Papa's Daiquiri) remain on the cocktail list. If you want to try the unique barrel aged Tapping the Admiral, I'd recommend trying some before they run out as due to the aging process, they can't immediately create more.

La Descarga: 1159 Western Avenue, just North of Santa Monica Blvd.  Phone: (323) 466-1324.  Website:

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