History has us believe that humans have been eating and drinking simultaneously for a very, very long time. But now, more than ever, it seems restauranteurs are putting just as much time and thought into their drink service as any other aspect of their dining experience. And in the hyper-foodie-blogsphere universe we all live in now, many times a premiere drink program is the edge that a restaurant needs to be thought of as truly elite. Here are our picks for outstanding restaurants who’ve elevated their game by way of their drinks.
3515 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown
Drink To Try: Gin n’ Juice
Sitting on the pool deck of Roy Choi’s Palais de Triumphe (The Line Hotel), Commissary is a truly beautiful experiment in fresh food cultivation. If I was ever going to write about how the carrot became a culinary rockstar, Commissary would most certainly be credited. But beyond the food lies a drink program so well-fitted to its menu, you almost take it for granted. Served in what looks like a to-go container of Tom Kha soup, the Gin n’ Juice (with multiple flavors) is quite possibly perfection. Delicious, refreshing, and secretly strong, I’m tempted to name it the best in-dinner cocktail in the city. And who needs just one, when you can stroll out to the pool afterwards and sip one more under the stars?
7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles
Drink To Try: The Brixton
Petty Cash made quite the splash early last year, opening their high-end (and expensive) taco service on Beverly Boulevard. But after the roar of $6 tacos died down, what remained was one of the finer Mexican restaurants in the city. And thanks to Julian Cox, a truly superb drink and cocktails list emerged as well. The drinks at Petty Cash have personality, and none shine brighter than The Brixton. A favorite since opening, The Brixton is a brilliant combination of gin, lime juice, and poblano sorbet (!!). If that wasn’t enough, it’s served with a flaming habanero pepper filled to the brim with Green Chartreuse. The Brixton is a visual crowd-pleaser with light flavors and a serious punch of heat and is perfect for washing down a menu chock full of world-class tacos.
522 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
Drink To Try: Autumn Sour No. 2
Remember Julian Cox? He’s back. Noted as one of LA’s great cocktail engineers, Cox has become a pioneer in the drink world and at Brilliantshine, he is finally able to run free. While almost every cocktail is worth an order, the king of the castle has to be the Autumn Sour No. 2. Made with apple brandy, Alsatian peach liqueur, lime, and egg white, this cocktail is all California sun with a major dose of Midwest Autumn. Just please don’t wait till next Fall to drink it.
8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood
Drink To Try: Boozy Horchata
From the team that brought us the indelible Cafe Gratitude, Gracias Madre opened only a few years ago and quickly engrained itself as a true West Hollywood go-to spot. With one of the most beautiful outdoor patios in the city and a delicious meat-free menu, Gracias Madre was almost fool-proof in opening at its chic Melrose locale. And while patrons flock in droves for the food, the not-so-secret superstar is the cocktail program. Owning one of the more impressive Mezcal collections in the city, tequila is the way to go at Gracias Madre with the Boozy Horchata being the first order of business. Made with almond milk and Mezcal, its nothing overly-complicated but still provides that perfect refresher after a long night out on Santa Monica Boulevard.
718 N Highland Ave, Hollywood
Drink To Try: Belle Du Jour
The little sister of Chef Ludo’s titanic Trois Mec, Petit Trois hardly needs an introduction. Its no-frills cafe ambience and steak-frites, undoubtedly the best in the city, have made Petit Trois a fast favorite. But you know Chef Ludo wasn’t going to open a Parisian-style sidewalk cafe without accompanying it with a top-notch wine selection and an even better cocktail list. Brought to us by the fantastic Danielle Motor, the drink menu at Petit Trois shines brilliantly and changes frequently. Right now, the Belle Du Jour has our attention; Gin, Casoni, Averna, St. Germain, and a toasted grapefruit zest provides the perfect bite to any of Ludo’s savory French favorites.