Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Holidays Have Arrived at the Cantina @ Border Grill

It is the time of the year when visions of dusting of nutmeg dance in the heads of mixologists all over town.  The Cantina at the Border Grill downtown brings some South of the Border flair to their new holiday cocktail list.

Bar manager Mary King and head bartender Alexander Fazio collaborated on six new festive cocktails:

The Sloe Sugarplum Fizz is made with Slow Gin, holiday plum, lemon juice and soda.  A twist on the classic Sloe Gin Fizz, this version substitutes the holiday plum for the standard sugar, to provide the sweet element.  Slow gin already contains sloe berries, which are related to plums, so this is a double down on the plum.  The drink is tart and gin forward, but still light.  Not too sweet.

A take on the classic Manhattan, the Cranhattan is made with Herradura anejo tequila, fresh cranberry puree, cranberry syrup and garnished with brandied cranberries that have been soaked in simple syrup and brandy for three luxurious days.  This cocktail is boozy and has strong cranberry flavor.

The pumpkin is known as the King of Squash, so this cocktail pays tribute to the squash-in-chief by combining Herradura anejo tequila, mezcal rinse or mist, pumpkin syrup and garnished with rosemary and candied ginger.  The pumpkin syrup includes cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar in addition to the pumpkin.  The King is on the sweet side, despite the hint of mezcal.

Taking the locavore movement close to heart, the Kumquat Caipirinha used kumquats from a staff member's yard to make kumquat puree, which is combined with cachaca, agave and thyme.  This drink is very sour as it includes both muddled and pureed kumquats.

When its time for dessert but you want to stick with liquid refreshment, the Marco Pisco may be calling your name.  The cocktail is made with pisco, green apple puree, coconut milk, cinnamon and chocolate bitters.  The cocktail uses coconut milk and apple foam in place of the froth usually generated by egg whites.  It is very rich and the chocolate bitters are quite strong.

One more time you say to the bartender as you order another Otra Vez, made with tequila, yerba mate tea, mint, agave and lemon juice.  Forget gin and juice, tequila and tea may be the next combination that breaks across the airwaves.

For those of you who have tried it all, one selection remains: Cantinero's Creation.  The bartender can create a surprise cocktail for you based on what they have in that day, your mood and how the holiday spirit moves them.  Put yourself in the hands of the trusty bartender and soon you will be shouting Ole!

Cantina at Border Grill: 445 S. Figueroa St, DTLA.  Phone: 213.486.5171 | Website:

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