Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blogger Bar Hop 2: The Mustache Ride

Last year bar impresario Aidan Demarest and Plymouth & Beefeater Gin Brand Ambassador Erick Castro led a group of cocktail bloggers on a journey across Los Angeles in the Trolley of Death.  This year the trolley was nowhere to be seen; in its place was the infamous Mustache Ride, only partly named for Castro's legendary stache.  The van that ferried us from bar to bar like thirsty lushes had an enormous mustache on the front of its grille, the better to deliver a full service and satisfying experience.  Blogger Bar Hop 2 was on!

The evening began at Neat, Demarest's bar in Glendale, where head bartender Arash Pakzad used Beefeater 24 to create a special cocktail with Spam and rosemary which were then torched to imbue the cocktail with their scent.

The next stop on the adventure was the Golden Road Brewery, where we munched on giant (enormous) pretzels that were served with legitimately spicy mustard.  To wash it down we sipped on pitchers of their signature Point the Way IPA and Hefeweizen.  Golden Road is only a short ride from Neat and it was a chance for two new neighbors to celebrate their openings and for us to get some foodstuffs in our bellies.

Aidan kept us on track, so we could be on time for our third stop at Tiki Ti, the home of Tiki cocktails in Los Angeles since 1961.  For 50+ years, Tiki Ti has been located in the same small spot on Sunset Blvd in Los Feliz.  It is only open four nights a week (Wednesday through Sunday) as the only employees are family members.  The small capacity can sometimes lead to lines at the door but Aidan had made arrangements and our merry band of revelers was welcomed with a round of potent cocktails that made us thankful for our designated mustache driver.

Tiki Ti in all its glory

Above Caroline on Crack enjoys her cocktail while Daniel Djang of ThirstyInLA photographs his beverage.
Below is a closeup of the cocktail from Tiki Ti before it was consumed, rapidly and gleefully.

Tiki Ti is cash only and thankfully there was enough cash on hand among the sponsors to pay for our cocktails as they don't take credit cards, even the Pernod Ricard corporate card.  Bartender Marcos Tello joined us at this point as Tiki Ti is his favorite bar, and he couldn't resist joining in the festivities.

Marcos Tello, Aidan Demarest and Erick Castro at the Three Clubs
Three Clubs was the fourth stop on our journey and it was nothing but efficient.  We walked into an almost empty bar and took  it over.  The bartender lined up ten martini glasses at the corner of the bar and proceeded to shake dirty martinis into all of them.  Within minutes of downing our chilled martinis, we were back on the bus.  There was no perusing the jukebox for tunes as we had to stick to the schedule as there were many bars still to come.

Number five is alive, or our adventure at Bar Marmont:  We found a robot made from liquor bottles and bar tools such as spoons, shakers and strainers.  The robot begged us to take him with us when left.  We got some light snacks and sipped on champagne cocktails but were not permitted the use of cameras inside.  The doorman/management was rather rude about the whole thing, so I cannot recommend this establishment.  Alas we have no pictures of our new robot friend, due to the camera prohibition.  I can only hope that he has escaped rather than be decommissioned.

Our spirits were revived and hunger and thirst addressed at the Eveleigh, where head bartender Dave Kupchinsky prepared a bevvy of farm fresh cocktails with Beefeater 24 and blood oranges at our sixth stop.  There was also a beautifully laid table of cheeses and oysters.  While I could not partake of the shellfish, they looked beautiful as did everything else Chef Toft prepared for us.  Kupchinsky's cocktail was a highlight of the evening.

Above, the Eveleigh cocktails.  Below bloggers in our crew celebrated at the Eveleigh.

Ah Skybar.  The seventh stop on our magical journey turned out to be a lame detour.  They gave our group much grief at the door before finally letting us in on the condition we do bottle service.  Once we were seated on a large bed adjacent to a couple who thought they were in their room with the drapes closed based on how they acted, we discovered that they were unwilling to sell us a bottle of Beefeater, despite prior arrangements having been made.  We had had enough and decamped to the eighth stop, an audible of Harvard & Stone.

Harvard & Stone was rocking on this Saturday night, which was also the farewell session for Lindsay Nader at the R&D bar there.  Bartenders such as Jaymee Mandeville and Nader's Pour Vous compatriot Devon Espinosa were there to show their love and the energy level rose to a crescendo.  Any annoyance at Skybar was forgotten as we celebrated the wonderful talent of LA's cocktail community with hardcore bloggers, talented bartenders and delicious spirits.  Such a great bonus that our final stop before returning to Neat included so many people who have worked to develop the cocktail scene in LA including those mentioned above, Pablo Moix of La Descarga and Alex Straus "in the House" of Hemingway's.

The ninth and final stop of the evening was back at Neat, where thanks to Caroline I was able to partake of one final round of beverages, as she was gracious enough to provide me a ride back.  Erick, Aidan and Caroline organized a blast of an evening.  This time there were no altercations with homeless people and we kept to the schedule; needless to say this was a classic night.  Good times to hop across town on a magic mustache ride with @carolineoncrack @thirstyinla @mikeprasad @squashblossom @mattatouille @LAOCfoodie and @foodgps

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