I curate a bi-weekly recipe column for The Times' Saturday section called "Destination: Cocktail." To date, I've culled 100 recipes created by some of the city's best bartenders, for some of the city's best bars and restaurants. I just finished poring over them all in order to pull out my favorite ones for Father's Day.
My criteria was simple: Nothing too sweet; nothing "girly," ie: nothing made with sugary fruit juices, strawberries, bananas or lotus fruit; nothing with too many steps; nothing made with infused liquors or housemade syrups. We're keeping it masculine and simple for you and dad, this year.
(My one exception to the above rules was the inclusion of a rum and coconut water cocktail that is served in an actual coconut. The coconut could be considered "girly," but I like thinking of my dad drinking out of one in a sort of way-cool "Big Lebowski" island-themed way.)
Without further ado, here are the recipes:
Rum and coconut water
It doesn't have a fancy name, nor is it a fancy drink. But the rum and coconut water served chilled in a young Thai coconut at 213's Cana Rum Bar in downtown Los Angeles conjures the Caribbean with each stress-relieving sip. The drink comes with a long-handled spoon so you can scoop out the tender white coconut meat and chew on it as you drink. The result tastes a bit like alcohol-laced French toast with languid hints of slow-moving molasses and sun-soaked vanilla. So who invented this nectar of vacationing gods?
"I think Trinidad did -- about 300 years ago," says bartender Julian Wayser.
4 1/2 oz. fresh coconut water
2 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
2 tbsp. crushed ice
Whip the ingredients in a shaker until the ice dissolves. Pour into a young Thai coconut. Serve with a straw and a long-handled spoon.
Cana Rum Bar, 714 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A. (213) 745-7090; www.canarumbar.com.
Japanese Maple by Damian Windsor
The tiny Roger Room on La Cienega Boulevard with its ultra worn speak-easy feel is a place where true cocktail aficionados go to get their drink fix. The menu is filled with creative concoctions that play with classic recipes before departing into unexpected worlds of flavor guided by fresh, local ingredients and modern appeal. Bartender Damian Windsor lords over the aged wooden bar like a bespectacled madman with a shaker -- always off to the next new cocktail idea in his head, he is quick to voice his opinion on spirits and even quicker to pour a fine drink. One of his favorites is the Japanese Maple. Japanese whiskey, lemon, pure maple syrup and frothed egg white align in a smooth balance of taste and feeling worthy of a Zen way of life.
1 1/2 ounces Yamazaki whiskey
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce egg white
Add ice to a tin, then add all the ingredients. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail goblet. Spritz with a 50/50 mixture of Bacardi 151 Rum and Angostura bitters.
The Roger Room, 370 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. (310) 854-1300.
There's nothing quite like an Italian aperitivo to get you slipping out of your work clothes and into something a little more comfortable -- like that cozy chair in your backyard. Chris Ojeda, the bar director for Cecconi's and Soho House, knows a thing or two about that sort of relaxation, and he's added a few Italian aperitivos to the drink menu at Cecconi's. The Sicilian Flower combines four lovely, light liquors for a dazzling, sun-dappled effect.
3/4 ounce Aperol
3/4 ounce St. Germain
3/4 ounce Carpano
Antica sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Averna Amaro
Combine all the ingredients over ice in a shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
Cecconi's, 8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. (310) 432-2000; www.cecconiswesthollywood.com
The Delicious Sour by Rich Ohtsuka
Oldfield's Liquor Room is the newest offering from Bobby Green's 1933 Group, which also owns popular watering holes Bigfoot Lodge and Thirsty Crow. The place is named for Barney Oldfield, a pioneering early 20th century race-car driver, and it specializes in classic cocktails with seasonal ingredients. One such revival is the Delicious Sour. The cocktail was a favorite in the 1800s, and bartender Rich Ohtsuka has come up with a tasty re-imagining featuring apple and peach brandies, fresh-squeezed lime juice and a frothy egg white.
1 ounce Laird's bonded apple brandy
1 ounce peach brandy
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
Combine all ingredients and shake, then shake a second time with ice. Double-strain into a chilled coupe and serve up with lemon zest.
Oldfield's Liquor Room, 10899 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 842-8066; www.oldfieldsliquorroom.com.
House Sazerac by Chris Ojeda
Ojeda uses 101 proof Wild Turkey rye for the classic tipple, of which he says, "The warmer this cocktail gets the better it tastes." That seems to be one of the main draws of overproof spirits. They hold their own where regular proof spirits simply become tired and watered down.
2 ounces 101 proof Wild Turkey rye
Muddle the sugar and bitters in a tin, add the rye and ice and stir. Strain into an old-fashioned glass rinsed with absinthe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Soho House, 9200 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.