|Celestino Drago with cocktail in hand|
Drago Centro launched a new Winter Cocktail Menu with eleven drinks including eight new ones and three holdovers from the fall menu. I was recently invited to sample the creations of Beverage Director Michael Shearin and Head Bartender Jaymee Mandeville. The list is eclectic with options for many palates, including sweet, tart, herbal and smoky.
My favorite (and the pick of the my fellow boozehounds) was the January Jones. This was a hot drink, a take on a hot buttered rum. It was creamy and spicy and all around delicious. The ingredients are Appleton VX Rum, Demerara syrup, cinnamon tincture, butter, clove, star anise and hot water. The studded lemon peel garnish completes the effect. I must confess I am not usually a fan of hot alcoholic beverages, excepting cider, but the January Jones converted me. It was a chilly night and this drink warmed me up. This cocktail lived up to the attractiveness of its namesake Mad Men actress.
My other "best of tasting" was Unbridled, a take on a classic mint julep. This beauty includes Laird's Applejack, Green Chartreuse, fresh mint and lime juice. It had a nice crispness and tartness to it. Very solid.
The Cusco's Crown is a tart cocktail made with Encanto pisco, pear puree, angostura bitters and lemon juice. I am a fan of Encanto, and the other ingredients melded well with it, but be prepared for the tartness.
For those that enjoy getting their daily serving of vegetables in their cocktails may have found their drink of choice in the Morning Courage. It is made with Bols Genever, serrano tincture, celery bitters, beet, lemon and hawaiian red sea salt. The beet flavor was very strong and the cocktail is quite dramatic in appearance.
Watcher in the Woods is extremely herbal and is made with Death's Door Gin, Clear Creek Douglas Fir, Nocello, lavender and mint bitters. This is not a drink I could finish as the douglas fir and the lavender made it too herbal and perfume like. This drink is an acquired taste that I have yet to acquire.
The other new drinks are:
Greco Roman: Lustau Amontillado Sherry, Luxardo Morlacco, Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters and orange essence
Puro Sangre: Karlsson's Vodka, solerno blood orange, honey, blood orange "caviar"
Smitten With Britain: Tanqueray Gin, chives, lime juice, Fever Tree tonic
Smoke on the Horizon: Zaya Rum, Drambuie, Carpano sweet vermouth, atomized sombra mezcal, mole bitters
Smokehouse: Laphroaig 10 yr Scotch, clear creek cranberry, Berentzen Apfelkorn, apple, Fee Brothers whiskey barrel bitters, candied bacon (garnish)
Violette Femme: Real Blanco Tequila, Luxardo Maraschino, Creme de Violette, Ventura Limoncello, Yuzu
All signature seasonal cocktails are $12. Don't forget that Drago Centro has the best value bar bites menu in the city.
Drago Centro: 525 South Flower St. (Downtown LA). Phone: (213) 228-8998. Website: dragocentro.com