Stir and Strain X LAWine Fest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comThis weekend we’re sending our wine-man-on-the-town Robin Watts to check out the 11th annual LAWine Fest here in Los Angeles to get the lowdown on what’s haute in the wine world. Robin will be posting on our Instagram with his must pours and give you guys a little behind the scenes action. If you’re not in Los Angeles this will be a great way to check out what’s up and coming in the wine world, and if you ARE in Los Angeles: JOIN US!! LAWine fest has a special code for Stir and Strain readers. Using the code FEST2016 on lawinefest.com, tickets can be purchases for the special rate of $45.00, instead of the $90.00 door price. Guys, that’s 50% off!

Here’s a little more info on the event:

  • L.A.’s largest and longest-running consumer wine tasting event, LAWineFest aims to make the world of wine fun and accessible for Angelenos. Founded in 2005 by renowned wine personality Dr. Joel M. Fisher, LAWineFest became a family business when daughter Sara Fisher Chapin began running the company in 2012. LAWineFest proudly supports local organizations while serving as the Southland’s signature celebration of wine.
  • Participants you will also have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with a wide variety of reasonably-priced artisan boutiques, gourmet foods, wine-related accessories and local lifestyle ‘must have’ products.
  • Wineries will be doing online sales and wine-club sign-ups, and non- wine exhibitors will be selling their wares directly at the event.
  • Offers a rare opportunity for true wine lovers to taste select small-batch pours from hard-to-find boutique wineries at a small, additional fee. This private area will include 25 winery gems and tickets for this will be limited to 400 people per day to provide a more personal experience for this exclusive tasting.
  • Not only does it balance fun, exploration and education, but with a portion of the event’s proceeds, LAWineFest proudly supports The Sunshine Kids for pediatric cancer. You can find more information about the history at LAWineFest

Stir and Strain at the LAWine Fest 2016 // stirandstrain.comLocation: Sunset Bronson Studios, 5901 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028. The cross streets are Sunset Blvd and N. Bronson Avenue.
Dates and times: Saturday June 25th from 2pm-7pm and Sunday June 26th from 2pm-6pm.
Cost of Admission and Ticketing: Tickets are $90 per day (single, general admission), $120 per day (single, universal admission and includes boutique wine tasting), and $15 (designated drivers—no drinking).
What is included with ticket: General Admission covers tastings, commemorative glass, event program, main stage shows, bottled water and vendor samples.
Website | Ticketing site

 

On the Town: Spring Previews in Los Angeles

This month I’ve been trying all the cocktails and eating all the foods so you only have to try the best.

If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles this year and want a few recommendations as to where to drink (or eat), leave us a comment below or send an email (or social media, or WHATEVER way works for you).

Here’s our highlights from March.

THE SPARE ROOM

TERRINE

PALM DESERT FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL PREVIEW

And here’s a few behind the scenes snaps!

The Traveling Bar: Scopa Italian Roots // Venice

The Traveling Bar: Scopa in Venice, CA // stirandstrain.comThe Traveling Bar is an on-going series where cocktail bloggers, bartenders and boozy professionals pick their favorite neighborhood watering holes. We’re on the westside of Los Angeles with The Minty, a gal-about-town who I trust completely with where to drink (just look at the stream of cocktails on her Instagram). Am I a little surprised she picked Venice to represent her favorite among all L.A. bars? Maybe a little… but check out that wall of booze!

Who: The Minty
Website: The Minty / LA Cocktails
Bar: Scopa Italian Roots
Where: Venice, CA

1. What do you look for in a bar?
While I mostly go to craft cocktail bars, I believe we need all types of bars for different moods. Whether they’re neighborhood bars, dives, themed or not, I like lively bars with knowledgeable and friendly bartenders. But just because someone has memorized all the classic cocktail recipes, it doesn’t mean they are hospitable so I look for bars where I can be comfortable. I also enjoy good design, good music and a fun crowd.

2. Here’s the scenario: your cocktail lovin’ friend is coming to your town for ONE night. You only have time for ONE bar. Which one is it?
I would take them to Scopa Italian Roots in Venice.

3. What makes this place so special you’d bring them here?
It’s pretty much my dream bar with a giant wall of booze, lovely food and welcoming service. Although it gets crazy packed, I never feel rushed to leave. Scopa was nominated for Best Drinks Selection at the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail last year. Here’s a video showing off their beautiful bar (and that giant wall of booze!).

The Traveling Bar: Scopa in Venice, CA // stirandstrain.com
Bullocks Wilshire Cocktail

 

4. What do you order for your friend? What do you order for yourself?
When I go into a bar the first time, I tend to order all the original drinks until I find the one I like– usually some brown, bitter, stirred cocktail. At Scopa, this is the Bullocks Wilshire. But I love discovering new drinks and letting the bartender play so I tell them I want something with whiskey. For my friend, I will order a drink with their favorite base spirit. The Westside is one of Scopa’s best sellers, a pretty, refreshing drink with Angostura bitters and vodka.

5. Does the bar have food? If not, where would you go for a bite?
Yes! Scopa is helmed by Chef Antonia Lofaso. She was on Top Chef (season 4) and her pastas are so great. I love hearing Antonia speak about her grandmother who passed along her Italian meatballs recipe and more. Scopa is also wonderful for oysters, sandwiches and salads. I’d love to try Scopa for brunch one day.

For even more photos of the food and drinks at Scopa, check out The Minty’s round up on her site!

*Photos courtesy of The Minty.

More Traveling Bar Posts found here!

The Traveling Bar: Harlowe // Los Angeles

The Traveling Bar: Harlowe in West Hollywood, CA // stirandstrain.comThe Traveling Bar is an on-going series where cocktail bloggers, bartenders and boozy professionals pick their favorite neighborhood watering holes. Los Angeles has produced some of the best bars in the country over the past few years, so it makes sense that we find ourselves back there again. Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, one half of the duo behind 12 Bottle Bar, gives us her West Hollywood favorite. ~Elana

Who: Lesley Jacobs Solmonson
Website: 12 Bottle Bar
Bar: Harlowe
Where: West Hollywood (Los Angeles, CA)

The Traveling Bar: Harlowe in West Hollywood, CA // stirandstrain.com1. What do you look for in a bar?

Like a cocktail, it requires an equal balance of the right ingredients. In this case, impeccably made drinks, great food (to soak up the alcohol), a welcoming atmosphere that invites you to stay awhile, and bartenders eager to share their craft.

2. Here’s the scenario: your cocktail lovin’ friend is coming to your town for ONE night. You only have time for ONE bar. Which one is it?

Los Angeles is so full of amazing bars from east side to west side that picking a favorite is a serious challenge. But, given the parameters I mentioned, Harlowe fits the bill on every level.

3. What makes this place so special you’d bring them here?

When you walk inside, you feel you’ve stepped back in time. The designers wanted to capture the Golden Age of Hollywood and they have succeeded beautifully – vintage tiles, lamps with a gaslight feel, charming paintings of winsome ladies on the walls. There’s a huge central bar that runs the length of the room, booths around the sides, even a shrub-enclosed patio. The lighting is dim enough to feel moody, but not so dark you can’t see your drink. Some nights they have DJs, which I tend to avoid because I like to talk with friends and the bartenders. I usually go on the early side because I can do just that.

The menu changes seasonally, but the selection of drinks covers the gamut from original cocktails that use less common spirits like apple brandy, pisco, rhum agricole, and genever, to classic drinks that have been house-bottled like their Sazerac or put on draft like their Negroni. And the drinks are served by some of the cities best bartenders, who love discussing the nuances of their creations or debating the best way to make a classic. Just be sure you don’t try to get into a major conversation if the bar is full!

4. What do you order for your friend? What do you order for yourself?

For me, it would be the West Hollywood. Of all the cocktails I’ve had in the last year, this is the one I come back to again and again — and even make at home. It’s essentially a Manhattan, but the balance of Laird’s Apple Brandy, Noilly Prat Ambre, Dry Curacao, Angostura and the Calvados-soaked apple garnish is an inspired reinvention of the classic.

For my friend, it would, of course depend on their spirit of choice. If they weren’t sure, I’d order them a Shandy Koufax, a combination of Cana Brava rum, Amaro Meletti, , pineapple gomme, lemon, California IPA, and Angostura. A slightly tropical, refreshing rum-beer mash up.

5. Does the bar have food? If not, where would you go for a bite?

One of the reasons I chose Harlowe is because many bars don’t have food unless they are in a restaurant. I purposely didn’t choose a restaurant bar because that felt like a cheat. Harlowe’s menu was created by L.A. chef Eric Greenspan and, while it is mainly snack-based, the offerings are hearty and fun. If I just want a few nibbles, I go for the charred brussels sprouts and cheese puffs. When I’m really hungry and plan to stay awhile, I can choose from fish ‘n chips, a French Dip, or — my favorite — the open-faced bologna sandwich with gruyere and a fried egg. Now that really gives you a foundation for a night of imbibing.

*Photos courtesy of Lesley Jacobs Solmonson.

More Traveling Bar Posts found here!

And one more thing…

If you haven’t yet, you guys need to check out the The 12 Bottle Bar cocktail book! It’s one of my picks for the Boozy Book Club Gift Guide, and should be under your tree this year.

The Traveling Bar: Bestia // Los Angeles

The Traveling Bar: Bestia in Los Angeles with Whitney Adams // stirandstrain.comToday’s Traveling Bar features a downtown Los Angeles location where you can get good cocktails, amazing food, AND excellent wine all in one place. Whitney Adams, my go-to wine expert, takes us there. ~ Elana

Who: Whitney Adams
Website: Whitney A. & Bottle Stock
Bar: Bestia
Where: Los Angeles

1. What do you look for in a bar?
Good vibes, first and foremost. Good people, good music, good lighting…and of course, good drinks and wine. My very favorite bars have not only excellent cocktails but an interesting and well-edited wine list.

2. Here’s the scenario: your cocktail lovin’ friend is coming to your town for ONE night. You only have time for ONE bar. Which one is it?
I would probably head to Bestia. Kill several birds with one stone. The food is amazing, the cocktails are on point and the wine list is great. You can’t not be happy when perched on a stool at the Bestia bar.The Traveling Bar: Bestia in Los Angeles with Whitney Adams // stirandstrain.com

3. What makes this place so special you’d bring them here? The energy of the restaurant is almost electric and buzzing, you feel like you are on the pulse of something. And it helps that I know a lot of the staff there, so it’s nice to be able to be amongst friends.

4. What do you order for your friend? What do you order for yourself? This is tough to answer because my drink order totally depends on my mood and changes all the time. I usually start with a cocktail and then move to wine, or the other way around. If i’m bringing a friend I would order us both one of their White Negronis (gin, kina l’avion d’or, suze, grapefruit oil) and then let Maxwell, Jesse or Ryan pour us literally any wine they have open. The “wine rave” is also a show stopper. Think flashing LED lights, bass-thumping music on a portable speaker and shots of riesling (or whatever).The Traveling Bar: Bestia in Los Angeles with Whitney Adams // stirandstrain.com

5. Does the bar have food? If not, where would you go for a bite? Because it’s officially a restaurant, they most definitely have food. And outstanding food at that. Their pizza and pasta are some of the best I’ve ever had. I also love getting a house cured salumi plate with mustard and pickled things.

*Photos courtesy of Whitney Adams.

More Traveling Bar Posts found here!

The Golden State of Cocktails Starts Tomorrow…

gsc_logo_yellowLos Angeles has their first full-blown cocktail happening starting tomorrow, January 28th. The Golden State of Cocktails will take place in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday through Thursday (my liver is crying in anticipation of the fully packed program) this week and I will be there covering as much ground as possible.

If you’re lucky enough to make it, please stop me and say hi! If you just want to kick back with your own cocktail and watch through the internet, you can follow along through various social media accounts. Here are mine for reference:

Cheers!