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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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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Jul 26, 2012

The Somewhat Secret Cocktail Parties at Pharmacie

About a year ago, I had heard about this underground cocktail party called Pharmacie, held once a month at various locations in Los Angeles. The venue was always a secret and invites were tough to snag.  You had to know the bow-tied man behind the bar, and well, I didn't.  A couple of months ago, I was shaking up some Frenchy libations for a pal and he told me about his friend Talmadge Lowe, who was geeky about cocktails like me...and created Pharmacie.  After meeting with Tal, and yes, geeking out about all things liquor, he invited me to the next iteration of his roving speakeasy.

The location was disclosed a day before the event and "elegant picnic attire" was requested. As my friends and I made our way far east through a rather abandoned and industrial side of town, we wondered what we were getting into.  When we walked into The Elysian, those fears quickly melted away as we stepped into a little oasis— jazz music emanated from beyond the lush, tree-filled space and we passed smartly-dressed folks lounging in Eames chairs with their cocktails.  The half-outdoor, half-indoor space was filled with mid-century modern furniture from Yeah! Rentals that had a Palm Springs desert-chic edge. Tal was manning the bar in his signature bow-tie and served us with a French fortified wine as an aperitif.

When more guests had arrived, the somewhat formal part of the party began.  1966 Cosmopolitans, a creation of Tal's, were shaken up and handed out, and he told us a little story about his inspiration behind this libation.  This Cosmo wasn't your typical "Sex and the City" cocktail, but a mid-century marriage of an old cocktail called the 1926 Cosmopolitan (rediscovered by the folks at The Varnish) that contained gin, raspberry and lemon juice with the now ubiquitous drink made with vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice.  Tal's version had vodka, raspberry syrup, lemon juice and orange blossom water, and the 1966 in the name is a nod to the era when vodka began to gain popularity in American cocktail culture.
Little bowls of ceviche were passed out, and the next cocktail served up was the San Domingo Julep, which ended up being my favorite.  Tal shared another bit of history with us (and I thank him for re-sending me the info as the cocktails blurred my memory!), explaining that this drink came from a book called Famous New Orleans Drinks & How to Mix 'Em, which stakes a claim that this julep predates the popular mint julep.  It was allegedly introduced to New Orleans by wealthy families searching for a haven after leaving a discontent Dominican Republic.  Tal used Smith & Cross high-proof rum, mint and Scrappy's Aromatic Bitters.
As chocolate covered figs were handed out, we grabbed our last cocktail called The Lindberg made with rye whiskey, lemon syrup and Maraska's Maraschino liqueur floating on top. This libation is a rye-whiskey lover's nod to the Aviation cocktail (a classic drink made with gin, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur) and is spicy, sweet and tart.

Besides just having some yummy cocktails, Tal has created this fun, easy-going environment at Pharmacie.  He invites an eclectic group of sweet, social and chic people in a beautiful setting.  It's unpretentious and classy, and you walk away making new friends and gaining a little cocktail knowledge.  Tal has now started catering events, so if you can't scare up a Pharmacie invite for yourself, you can at least recreate that experience with your friends and family wherever you please. 


Unknown said...

There are lots of rooftop bar in London and I already visited most of it but I haven’t seen underground cocktail bars though. I am curious with Pharmacie because of the design and the cocktails that they serve. I would like to try The Linderberg cocktail because of the lemon syrup.

Unknown said...

I love the exquisite drinking experience from champagne bars london but this one is something that I don't want to miss either.

Anonymous said...

Could this also be at frozen cocktail machine hire perth? We had a collection of different mixed wines at home coming from friends around the world and, man, those were really one of their kinds.

Unknown said...

I may have to say that this event can be considered as product of modern winemaking. I swear! I had fun attending this cocktail party!

Sophie Tyler Neil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Would love to have this in our girl's poker night! If I were to host a party, I'd probably do some of these mixes.

Mischna Ong