Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Mar 13, 2012

Libation Location: Mixology 101

It's not often that the Lush Chef wanders over to The Grove for a drink—usually I'm frequenting downtown, Santa Monica and Venice for my libation adventures.  But with the fairly recent opening of Short Order, complete with a cocktail menu crafted by the ubiquitous Julian Cox, and now Mixology 101, which opened yesterday, there's more to do at The Grove besides shop and see a movie.

Mixology 101 (6333 W. 3rd Street, Suite 20, Los Angeles) is part of Planet Dailies, which is an offshoot from the restaurant housed at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.  This is the LA iteration and you can find it right above the Bath & Body Works and next to the Original Farmer's Market.  Cocktails have been conceived and inspired by renowned bar "Maestro" Salvatore Calabrese (someday, I must find a way to try samples from his vintage Cognac collection), along with Joseph Brooke who hailed from The Edison and has whipped up accolades of his own.

I got invited to a preview last week, and brought along my blogger friend Whitney from Get Me Out of LA, to try some of their small bites and four of their specialty cocktails.  Food covers a range of cuisines, which works well for folks strolling through The Grove—they've got something for everyone.  We tried their Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Potstickers, Tempura Shrimp, Tex-Mex Egg Rolls, Fish Tacos, Watermelon & Feta and a host of small desserts that include macarons, mini tiramisu, fruit tarts and more.  If you're going for the cocktails, you won't go hungry—the food is sure to soak up that alcohol!

Now, on to the libations.  We were treated to a fun and vibrant cocktail presentation by Salvatore—who doesn't love Italians?  He walked us through each cocktail and ingredient.  The first was a Breakfast Martini, which is a perfect, sunny libation for the ladies who lunch or brunch.  It's composed of Bombay Sapphire Gin, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lemon juice and orange marmalade.

We next moved on to the Spicy Fifty.  I'm not going to lie, I started to flinch when Salvatore mentioned using Stolichnaya Vanil Vodka because I have a huge aversion to pre-flavored vodkas, especially vanilla...Well, I was proven wrong because this oddly ended up being my favorite cocktail of the night.  Toss in some elderflower cordial, fresh lime juice, honey and chili pepper, and the vanilla was quickly balanced out.  It was slightly sweet and slightly spicy (kind of like me, I guess).

Our third cocktail was The Farmer's Martini, an ode to the location of Mixology 101, which had frozen Stoli Elit Vodka, some housemade blue curaçao, champagne and Salvatore's own lemon bitters.  We like people that make their own bitters...

The last cocktail, and the prettiest (love the stemware and the color!), was the Hollywood Bubbles made with Bénedictine, fresh raspberry purée, pomegranate juice and champagne.  This was also another favorite of mine and it went down almost too easily.

Photo courtesy of Planet Dailies

Cocktails are priced between $12-$18, the standard price that you pay at most mixology joints, and food is in the $8-$17 range.  So next time you get dragged to the Grove by visting friends and family, and you need a spot to escape, just bop on up here.  Grab a seat on the outdoor patio and enjoy a cocktail while they huddle with the shopping masses.