Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1886 at The Raymond (Pasadena): Reliving the Heydays of Cocktail

The Raymond restaurant in Pasadena is a long-standing restaurant with about 35 years of history. Under its new ownership and management though, The Raymond is getting revitalized with a new chef, and now a new bar featuring hand crafted cocktails that pay homage to how cocktails are classically made.

Honey Nut Old Fashioned at 1886
Honey Nut Old Fashioned

The Raymond had solicited Marcos Tello and Aidan Demarest from Tello Demarest Liquid Assets as consultants of the new cocktail program, which holds true to "how cocktails used to be made": homemade syrups and hand crushed ice and all. The 1886 Bar is named after the year that The Raymond Hotel (which no longer exists) was opened. The building was actually the caretaker's cottage and the historical building is an appropriate stage for these cocktails.

The bar will officially open in early December but it is now in its soft opening stage and was already packed when I visited. The full specialty cocktail list of about 25 isn't fully available currently but you can still choose among about 10 great cocktails.

The cocktail list during the soft opening featured bold flavor and a lot of spices (think mescal with ginger or jalapeno). The honey nut old fashioned strikes strong at first taste but turns into an excellent, well balanced cocktail with a hint of nuttiness.

For the winter months, you can warm up with the Hot Cider Toddy (apple brandy, maple syrup, apple cider).
Hot Apple Cider Toddy at 1886

1886 also has an eclectic menu of bar appetizers. We started with the Hamachi sashimi with cucumber and melon, which I didn't see on the bar menu but was recommended by the manager.
Hamachi Sashimi

I love the fresh and fatty yellowtail. The melon slices were thin and were almost undetectable beneath the cucumber flavor.

Grilled Japanese Octopus with tarragon infused melon, hearts of palm, saffron ($9)
Grilled Octopus at 1886

The octopus was particularly tender and the melon that I missed on the previous dish was strong here with its sweetness and juiciness.

Kentucky Fried Quail with Ras El Hanout and chermula ($12)
Kentucky Fried Quail
Quail with crispy fried skin makes for a great elevated bar food.

Foie Gras Torchon with Indonesian long peppers, pineapple, cilantro ($12) - served with warm bread.
Foie Gras Torchon
Our favorite of the night, easily. The light sweetness of the pineapple did not overwhelm the smooth foie gras, but it's the spice from the peppers that took this dish beyond. I will definitely order this again.

The opening of The 1886 should get Pasadena residents excited. Not only do they offer excellent cocktails from bartenders trained by Marcos Tello and Aidan Demarest, they also bring some worthwhile dishes from The Raymond's Chef Tim Guiltinan. With this and the new Tap Room at The Langham, we no longer have to drive to downtown for cocktails. Now I'm just hoping it doesn't get *too* crowded ...

1886 at The Raymond1886 Bar at The Raymond
1250 S Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105-3417
(626) 441-3136


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