Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Head Bartender Ben Scott, American Single Malts at Messhall Kitchen

Ben Scott used to bartend part time before going corporate, but he soon hated the corporate life and returned behind the bar. He's been working at Messhall Kitchen since they opened. Now that Erik Lund has moved on to Republique, Ben heads the bar program at Messhall Kitchen.

Ben Scott
Ben has a thing for American single malts and he's built quite the collection at Messhall. Japanese whiskies are huge right now but they're hard to get, so he thinks American single malts will be the next big thing. Having tasted a lot of them, Ben says that California single malts tend be chocolatey, and I found this was certainly the case with Ouroboros from Lost Spirits.
Compared to the Montana or Texas whiskies, St. George's (also from California) was the mildest. He's also got his hands of some Exclusive Malts bottle. A 30 year old scotch? Don't mind if I do.
Other than the single malts, don't miss the cocktails as Ben has made some interesting additions! The Paris, Texas is a riff on a Champs Elysees made with Balcones Rumble, chartreuse, lemon ($12)
What is Balcones Rumble?
It's a liquor made with honey, turbinado sugar, and dates. Balcones wanted to make a peaty whisky but peat was too expensive to make an affordable bottle. Well, what is there plenty of in Texas? Texas shrub!
Not only did that give it the smokiness they wanted, now they have something that is exclusively Texan.

For a surprise, try Vinny the Chin. The recipe of 2 oz Cynar, 1 oz rye, and a half spoon Amaro Nonino sounds like it would be a bitter drink, but Ben had learnt a trick. He stirs a lemon peel in the drink and the oil from the lemon brings it out from a tight drink to one that is sweet, while still tasting of celery, without using any sweetener.

I got a little taste of the Rich Man's Old Fashioned (125th anniversary Four Roses bourbon, sugar, bitters - $30).

If you need a little something to soak up the alcohol, you can't go wrong with the Pig & Pickles (crispy pork belly and house pickles, remoulade, $8) which is certainly one of the best fried pickles I've tried (granted I haven't tried that many).

Don't miss their barrel aged cocktails, as well. I recommend Death Benefits ($15), made with Kilchoman scotch, gin, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, bitters, and lemon (aged over "many moons")

I ended on a creamy note with the Tiger Milk (aged cachaca, ginger, coconut cream, whole egg, kaffir lime, $12)
Tastes like a vacation
You can come to Messhall Kitchen for many reasons, like $15 burger and bourbon (or beer) on Mondays or $1 oysters on Tuesdays or all night happy hour on Throwback Thursdays, but next time, also stay to try the great cocktails and the impressive collection of single malts!

4500 Los Feliz Blvd
 Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 660-6377


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