Some of you may already know that 1886 is my favorite bar in Pasadena, so I was in a withdrawal when they temporarily closed while the kitchen is being renovated. It's not that I go every week, but it's nice to know I can if I want to! Anyway, they finally reopened and a few days after launched their new spring menu. I didn't try everything this time around but got pretty close.
The menu is divided into four different sections. Let's start with the last one, since that has the drink I started out with: ANATOMY OF A MEAL.
They say this section is a "work in progress", with cocktails that would go well with different food.
My cocktail tasting started with the Sprezzatura (by Pete Lloyd-Jones): Campari, Cynar, Grapefruit Soda. The menu advises you to try this before the meal to cleanse your palate, and it's certainly a great one for that with a balance between the sweetness and bitterness. It's lighter in alcohol as well, making it even more perfect to start the night.
Mama Loves Mango (Rosie Ruiz): Mezcal, Tequila, Mango, Citrus, Cayenne. Meant to pair with dishes where fish or shellfish take center stage.
Dinner at the Gamble House (Nikita Minin): Cedar infused Bourbon, East India Sherry, Sweet Vermouth Try pairing with red meat or game.
|Photo courtesy of 1886 Bar|
1886 is certainly no stranger to soda cocktails, but this is the first time they dedicate a whole section to it, called the SODA POP SHOP.
My favorite of the night is probably “Coke & A Smile” (Brady Weise): Rye, Fernet Menta, Galliano Ristretto, Whole Egg, Coca-Cola, served in a Coke glass bottle
It wasn't just the presentation that I loved, but the complex flavors. It's fun but don't think it's all gimmick, Brady does some serious cocktails and this is one of my favorites of his (along with The Wind-Up Bird from I-can't-remember-which-season). There's a touch of herbal bitterness from the fernet, but it is still approachable to the uninitiated and the egg and cola makes this the perfect, less-sweet, dessert.
Curry-ously Refreshing (Lacey Murillo, Pete Lloyd-Jones & Gillian Georges): Batavia Arrack, Curry Lime Cordial, Soda (left)
A surprising taste in a cocktail but I like it! It's not spicy but you definitely taste curry spices. I've had a curry cocktail at Pour Vous once and while I thought that one was pretty good I didn't think I would order it again. This one is much more drinkable and refreshing, though, I would definitely get it again.
I didn't get to try everything but next time I'm definitely trying the Gindonesian Whistle (Greg Gertmentian): Damrak Gin, Strawberries, Lemon, Indonesian Long Pepper. I've always loved their bottled soda cocktails and this one gives a nod to my home country, Indonesia! It wasn't ready when I went there, but I need to try this soon.
STUDY OF CHARLES BAKER. If you don't know who Charles Baker is and why he gets a whole section devoted to him, the menu gives you the background: "Baker spent much of his life traveling the world and chronicling food and drink recipes for such publications as Esquire, Town and Country, and Gourmet. He collected many of those recipes in his 2 volume set, "The Gentleman's Companion”, originally published in 1939. Here we share some of his travels with you."
I had to try Holland Razor Blade (above picture, drink on the right), discovered in Batavia in 1931. Bols Genever, Sugar, Lemon, Cayenne.
Batavia! If you don't know, that was the name of what is now Jakarta back when we (Indonesia) were occupied by the Dutch, so I have a nostalgic bias for this cocktail (despite never having it before). Just like many Indonesian food, this thing is spicy! I never knew we had such great cocktails in Indonesia back in the day.
Other drinks on the menu may ring a bell for some: Mexican Firing Squad (Created at the La Cucaracha Bar, Mexico City, 1937), Daisy de Santiago, and Remember the Maine (“A hazy memory of night in Havana during the unpleasantness of 1933"). I tasted my friend's Remember the Maine : Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Heering, Absinthe. Perfect for the Manhattan fans, a perfectly balanced whisky drink.
Last but not least, there's TIME FOR TEA. I love tea. I love this section. Here they call on their other friends known for tea concoctions. My favorite? Earl Grey Martini(Audrey Saunders, NY): Earl Grey infused Gin, Lemon, Sugar, Egg White
I've had this before though I couldn't remember where, but I am certainly excited they put Audrey Saunders' lovely Earl Grey martini on the menu. Apparently this is currently the best seller.
Liquor-ish Whiskey Smash (Chad Solomon, NY) Licorice infused Rye, Benedictine, Lemons, Mint
G,G, & T (Created by Nick Strangeway, London): Gin, Galliano, Verbena Tea.
To invoke gin and tonic, they made the verbena tea into a soda using one of those carbonation machines. If you wanted something different, light tasting and refreshing yet not sweet, this one's for you. Have it as your first drink, though, as the flavor is light and subtle (my friend thought it was a bit flat).
1886 Bar keeps you coming back with their seasonal, always fun menu where the entire team would come together and showcase their creations and the menu credits each properly. If you haven't been this season, you better soon and try Coke & A Smile! And Curry-ously Refreshing, and many others. I, too, need to return soon and try the rest of the menu.