Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sipping through the Spring Cocktails at Mo-Chica

by guest blogger Brian Lee @iam_robot

By now I trust you all have made it to Mo-Chica. Since its opening more than 2 years ago, this modern Peruvian delight is known for its fantastic lunch deal, expansive happy hour menu and wildly exotic fares (alpacas stew, Amazonian fish escabeche, etc). It’s definitely one of my favorites and it almost seemed like a miracle when Zarate moved to this upscale DTLA location after 3 years residing as a modest food court stand in Mercado Paloma (east of USC). I remember I was redeeming my $20 groupon and I was thoroughly wowed with his mashed potatoes & crab dish (Crab Causitas).

Last Monday I had the chance to taste their spring cocktail menus. Each season, experienced mixologists update their cocktail menu to accentuate local and seasonal ingredients and both classic and new trends. This time, Deysi Alvarez, also mixologist at Zarate’s Paiche & Blue Tavern, incorporates fresh fruits and floral accents to match up Zarate’s fresh tropical dishes like Chicken Truffle Causitas and Crab Causitas. I think I ate 8 of those crab causitas ...
IMG_2477 IMG_2479
I really like how Alvarez infuses lots of unconventional ingredients into her drinks (egg whites, chica morada reduction, or rhubarb cardamom gomme). As strange as some of these ingredients sound, her drinks are very approachable to amateur cocktail drinkers like me – they mostly taste refreshing without being overly fruity or sweet.

Below is the list of cocktails presented to me:
Basil Blossom - Thai basil infused quinoa vodka, violet liqueur, fresh lemon, simple syrup, soda water
IMG_2476 This is probably my favorite. I am bewildered with the floral aroma and burst of fruity flavor from the vodka and violet liqueur. I was hesitant about the violet liqueur inclusion at first but the aroma is very subdued & not artificial at all. Overall the cocktail feels very light with some fizzy finish. I thought this would pair very well with lightly seasoned dishes or steamed vegetables.

Chilcano de Rhubarb - Ocucaje Pisco, rhubarb cardamom gomme, ginger syrup, soda water, Angostura bitters, lime wheel

IMG_2491My first sip on this drink feels very tart yet so refreshing. The sweetness of the Pisco (Peruvian white brandy) balances very well with the tanginess and sweet smelling fragrance of rhubarb cardamom gomme (syrup). There is a slight hint of bitters towards the end but the drink for the most part feels slightly sweet, citrusy with a delicate balance of effervescent and spicy/aromatic finish. Thought this would be real good for a brunch or dessert cocktail.

Purple Corn Sour - Perrier Ferrand cognac, chicha morada reduction, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup

I was very excited when I saw the inclusion of Chicha Morada, a sweet beverage made by boiling purple corn with pineapple, cinnamon, clove and sugar. I didn’t get to taste much of this but I thought the lemon juice overpowers all the combination here. I tasted the herbal accents from the Chica Morada but I wish I could taste the Cognac a little more (I always love the hint of vanilla and oak in a Cognac). I think I prefer a less tart/ sweet version of this drink. Nevertheless, it’s still a very good dessert cocktail.


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