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Where to Grab Your Next Drink in LA

By Kathryn Romeyn | January 23, 2018 | Food & Drink

All over LA, H’Wood’s swell set is sticking to its New Year’s resolutions with kombucha cocktails that make boozing almost guilt-free.

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Burnside Bourbon from Eastside Distilling and GT’s Living in Gratitude Kombucha make a klassic kocktail.

The City of Angels has hit such a point of kombucha saturation that its health-minded denizens are not satisfied drinking the now-stalwart, naturally sparkling, raw, fermented tea beverage as only a midday pick-me-up or a mood-boosting addendum to their vegan lunches. It’s begun moonlighting late night, at weekend brunches and happy hour. Kombucha, the favored tipple of everyone from Jared Leto and Michael Bay to Lena Dunham and Lady Gaga, is now the preferred cocktail mixer all over town.

Increasingly, top restaurants such as Manuela and Baroo are brewing their own, while mixologists at Downtown’s Prank Bar (1100 S. Hope St., 213.493.4786, prankbar.com) and Bar Mateo (580 Mateo St., 323.825.5381, zinccafe.com/bar-mateo) are also dosing their bar menus with the strongly flavored fizz that Lindsay Lohan famously blamed for a positive alcohol test (all authentically made fermented beverages contain trace elements of alcohol). When mixed with booze, says LA-based category creator and pioneer GT Dave—who produces more than 1 million bottles of GT’s Kombucha (gtslivingfoods.com) annually—“kombucha does a fantastic job of masking the alcohol flavor, and you get a clearer buzz, which is translated to not getting a hangover. It’s a win-win- win.” (Solange and Frank Ocean recently tested out the combo at Tyler, The Creator’s GOLF store opening.)

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Love & Salt Kombucha Mocktail.

Dave jokes that “mixing kombucha and alcohol is like smoking on a treadmill, but what it boils down to is people aren’t going to stop drinking, and to minimize its negative impact, mixing [in] kombucha is handsdown one of the best pairings you can do.” This clean combo takes classic cocktails to a new level, like at Bar Mateo, whose Kombucha Collins uses Health-Ade Beet with vodka, Cocchi Americano, lemon juice and simple syrup. (Their playful barmen can make virtually any cocktail using kombucha, like a mezcal margarita with California Grape kombucha and Amaro Angeleno.) Health-Ade is also featured at Manhattan Beach’s Love & Salt (317 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, 310.545.5252, loveandsaltla.com), where the Beet Down (using bell pepper and lemon juice) and SoCal Mule (including pear juice and honey syrup) mocktails can be spiked with gin or whiskey, respectively. The Moscow mule takes new shape at chef Ricardo Zarate’s Rosaliné (8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323.297.9500, rosalinela.com), where the Chilcano cocktail features ginger kombucha—elevating the drink to a level ginger ale couldn’t, says bar manager Jeremy Lake—with pisco or vodka, Peruvian aperitif, lime and bitters. “Ultimately, it made sense with my mystical menu theme too, as the Andes people drink a lot of tea and naturally fermented beverages,” says Lake. Guests of new boutique hotel La Peer (627 La Peer Drive, West Hollywood, 855.239.4324, lapeerhotel.com) can sip three creations featuring Carlsbad’s Kombucha Culture as part of the In Room Bottle Service amenity: Rooted Mule, The Bohemian and Purple Rain Mimosa.

The mix masters at Charcoal Venice (425 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey, 310.751.6794, charcoalvenice.com) discovered that Venice-based kombucha brand Eden Blue’s unique flavors added tartness and unexpected depth of flavor to their cocktails, which include the Venice Mule (vodka, ginger kombucha, smoke and lime) and Rose Ave. (vodka, hibiscus kombucha, lime and strawberry basil). Along with reposado tequila, Lairds Applejack, ginger root and pineapple kombucha, Prank Bar’s The Granny Gripple is further flavored with wellness-y limonene and pinene terpenes (anti-inflammatory cannabis derivatives). Dave notes that kombucha can take the place of citrus such as lemon or lime, and indeed shandies—usually beer and carbonated lemonade or ginger ale—are popular at Venice Ale House (2 Rose Ave., Venice, 310.314.8253, venicealehouse.com), which offers a quartet of kombucha blends including the Whitebucha, using White Dog IPA.

With nearly countless flavors, the sky’s the limit with these cocktail creations. GT’s makes a pineapple turmeric kombucha specifically for the tap at Beverly Hills’ Gratitude (419 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, 424.389,1850, cafegratitude.com) that is at the heart of I Am A Star, mixed with vodka or mezcal and jalapeno. Says Dave, its functional herbs “not only make it incredibly delicious, but somehow make you feel even better about what you’re drinking.” We’ll toast to that.



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Photography by: PORTRAIT BY DYANA CARMELLA