January 2014

Who's Serving What: 1886, Pasadena, CA

By: The Tasting Panel Editorial Team

The holidays are over and the New Year has begun. No more stress about shopping for that perfect gift or what dessert to bring to your neighbor's party; now it's time to de-stress and unwind with 1886 Bar at The Raymond as they unveil their latest winter cocktail menu.

This time around, the 1886 bar team has paired their winter menu down to three sumptuous sections Hot, Shaken and Stirred, and they have called upon a literary classic, the Maurice Sendak book, Where The Wild Things Are to encapsulate the list.

"We've covered a lot of ground, and given a lot of attention to the basics over the years," says Head Barman Brady Weise. "We started with shaken and stirred, expanded into elixirs and refreshers, and our last menu was based on dubstep. So we've reached the point of maturity in our program where we can riff on an idea. Our drink making has evolved. Some are wacky and push boundaries, but all of them are creative, so we started thinking about what represents that. As the team was discussing how the list came together, I thought of the line from the book that goes, 'In the night, a forest grew.' And someone said, 'That's it - Where The Wild Things Are!' Not only do we use a lot of non-traditional techniques in handcrafting out cocktails, but we are all kind of wild in our own way."

No question 1886 patrons will go wild over their latest menu, paring things down to three simple categories that aptly describe their wares. That doesn't mean the 1886 crew has been slacking, though. In fact, far from it, while working on four cocktails in the three sections has allowed them to go even further into their liquid exploration.

 
Hot Sangria.
The journey begins with Hot the category, which features, what else?  Hot Toddy's!  Says Weise, "When you look at cocktail culture, there are so many ways to serve a drink and so many different kinds of glassware to serve it in. But when it comes to Toddy's, the glasses all look the same and the drinks look the same because they are basically hot water, a spirit and a sweetener. There's nothing wrong with that, but at 1886 we want to get interesting and create an exciting presentation for our guests to enjoy."  

One of the drinks from the Hot section that definitely exemplifies this ideal is the Czech Mate which was created by Weise, and is a toddy featuring Becherovka, tamarind reduction, and orange bitters served in an ornate ceramic mug that's gilded in gold. There is also a Hot Sangria created by Peter Lloyd-Jones which features piping hot spiced wine that's been infused for 24 hours with blackberries, blueberries and cherries before being spiked with brandy, and served with a stick of cinnamon and a blood orange twist.

 
Even though the holidays have disappeared, The Snowbird created by Saul Soto, will inspire warm thoughts of the season with a creamy, pumpkin-spice Chai latte pepped up with some 12-year El Dorado Demerara rum, Lemonhart and a little cinnamon. And no hot winter drink list would be complete without a classic hot chocolate, with a twist, of course. So satisfy your liquored sweet tooth with the Patty O'Green created by Gillian Georges, featuring house made hot cocoa, Fernet Menta, Marshmellow Espuma and a mini-candy cane.

The Snowbird.


The next section on the list is the classic Stirred, with a combo of cocktails destined to render you officially untamed. Start with The Bull's Eye, also created by Gillian Georges which is a combo of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Amaro Nocino and a dash of Cassis. Then, sample From Prussia with Love also courtesy of Weise, which is a potent pairing of blood orange infused vodka, Lillet Rouge, Benedictine and orange bitters. The Memphis Bound concocted by Lloyd-Jones will get you going with Fighting Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon, a touch of brown sugar and Memphis barbeque bitters served with a bacon and jalapeño garnish.  
The Bull's Eye.

And finally, you'll definitely want to pay some tasty attention to Greg Gertmenian's Follow Your Nose, featuring Agricole Rhum, East India Lustau Sherry and Amaro Montenegro, garnished with a crisped grapefruit peel. 


São Paulo Fix.

Lastly, there's the time-honored, but hardly traditional Shaken section, spiked with the kind of creative flare that only the 1886 crew can provide. Starting things off is Adam McLean's The Wild Inside, a refreshing Collins with London Dry Gin, Barrel-aged Genever, lemon, mint and pomegranate. Next up is Gillian Georges The Moroccan Exchange, a tantalizing blend of Dos MaderasPX Rum, Nicaraguan 5-year Rum, fresh lime and harissa spices, served down on a rock of ice and finished with Smith & Cross.

Then there's Peter Lloyd Jones' São Paulo Fix, a unique hybrid cocktail using muddled lime, Cachaca and a heaping spoonful of St. Dalfour French blackberry jam, served with cracked ice and a mist of Navy-strength Smith & Cross.  

Finally, there's the Rico Suave . . .  but we will let Weise give you the details on this one. "What I love about this cocktail is that it's a riff on what's considered to be classic Central and South American ingredients," he notes. "So it calls upon an ancient Mexican recipe that uses fermented corn, pineapple and spices, then we compliment it with German Hefeweizen to make it a beer cocktail. When I was doing research on the history of the recipe I discovered it was an old Aztec way of making their own beer and spicing it up, so we just added to it to give it a full dimensional experience of flavor. It's kind of like a Manhattan in that there's only three ingredients, but it's incredibly profound in its construction."

And labor-intensive, too.  Because this cocktail is very complicated to make and takes a time to produce, the Rico Suave, created by Jesus Gomez and Saul Soto, is actually limited to two per customer to ensure everyone gets a taste. Says Weise, "We want everyone to have a chance to try it out, and we have learned from experience with drinks like the Coffee and Cigarettes that sometimes limiting them is the best way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to sample it. Plus, it is a traditional family recipe, and we want to honor that recipe by not taking shortcuts."

Now that 1886 is a hearty three years into their cocktail program, 1886 Bar has been taking a look back at their past, and realizing where they have come, in an effort to shape their future. The idea behind going back to a simpler, three-section structure was both meant to honor their beginning and simplify things for their guests, while still giving the team the opportunity to explore greater depths within the three cocktail categories. While 1886 is always thinking of their dedicated clientele, they are also thinking of their guests who are coming to the bar for the very first time and might be new to the kind of liquid artistry that the team has become renowned for.

"When you look at the history of the area and the influence of experiences over time, where a microclimate has afforded us everything we want year around, we never want to take that for granted," States Weise. "We're fortunate enough to live somewhere where we can get Bavarian beer, fresh produce and incredible spirits, As we created this list, we continue to honor not just the history of California and of 1886 Bar, but also of the evolution of what we have from around the globe that's readily available to help us make a great cocktail."

Which is exactly how it should be at 1886 Bar; inventive, tasty, explorative and wild to the very end!

THE TASTING PANEL, 17203 Ventura Blvd, Ste. 5, Encino, CA 91316
Content ©2014 THE TASTING PANEL magazine. All rights reserved