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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Feb 28, 2013

Libation Location: The Bungalow

It's nearing the end of the cold months for us Angelenos (sorry non-West Coasters), and we're all getting anxious for long days frolicking on the beach and warm summer nights watching the sun go down.  Well even though it's still chilly, you can catch those sunsets in a beach-chic vibe at The Bungalow in Santa Monica.
Located on the grounds of The Fairmont Miramar Hotel with stunning ocean views, Brent Bolthouse took over a Baja-style 1947 cottage and has transformed it into an expansive bar and lounge.  Every time I walk into this seamless indoor-outdoor space, I feel like I'm in someone's fabulous beach house from the 70s.  In the words of Bolthouse, if Auntie Mame had a West Coast home, this is what it would look like.  I just love the attention to detail, such as the vintage thermoses and 70s fashion and surf photography books lining the shelves, serape-upholstered furniture and fragrant candles from Venice's Le Labo.
It's easy to fall into this kind of reverie when you start walking through the lush foliage and settle into a plush couch underneath the twinkle-lit trees.  During the winter, there's a massive clear tent covering the patio so you get the warmth without sacrficing the views.  My favorite times to visit are during the day or just when the sun is beginning to set.
Sundays sometimes bring out a cook from FIG whipping up cheese burgers and quesadillas to go with the tequila and mescal cocktails.  Guests like to let loose with a friendly game of ping-pong in the front garden, or can be found shooting pool or playing a round of checkers in the game room.  Nighttime crowds on the weekends can get a little heavy, but it's still a locals' hang, and remains a top spot amongst The Lush Chef's friends.
The bar program changes slightly with the seasons and there's a strong focus on tequila and mescal.  Ingredients are sourced from the nearby Santa Monica Farmers' Market and contain house-made shrubs and syrups.  Their Bungalow Margarita is one of the best in town with Espolón Silver Tequila, fresh lime, agave nectar, a float of mescal and a pinch of fleur de sel, and their Bitchin' Sangria is truly bitchin'.

One of my current favorite cocktails there is the Kick in the Junk (sorry, guys) which contains mescal, house-made chili shrub, ginger syrup, fresh lime and pickled chiles.  For those who aren't big on the mescal and tequila train, they do make some lovely gin and vodka-based cocktails.  The Fleur Nocturne is another favorite with gin, house-made hibiscus syrup, fresh lemon, lavendar bitters, a cava float and some sugar cane.  So grab your beach cruiser and pedal on down to The Bungalow.  Just don't try to move in - I've already tried that...

Atmosphere photos by Tiffany Rose, courtesy of The Bungalow.