Rosaliné, the new Peruvian restaurant by Chef Ricardo Zarate which debuted last night on June 12, not only marks the chef’s anticipated return to Los Angeles but the first restaurant cocktail program by barman Jeremy Lake after a nearly three-year hiatus. Lake, who trained under Julian Cox and ran the bar programs for John Rivera Sedlar’s Playa and Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads Kitchen, has been busy with his own bar, Lost Property in Hollywood, all this time.
However, his desire to work with Zarate on Peruvian cocktails compounded with the importance of the restaurant’s location in the previous Comme Ça space was enough to compel him to take a sabbatical from Lost Property.
“When it was Comme Ça, there is where a lot of people who I respect as mentors worked. All the people I looked up to and am influenced by,” says Lake. “So I put a lot more time and effort than was expected of me.”
For Rosaliné, Lake didn’t merely do riffs on classics using Peruvian ingredients, he recreated Peruvian-type cocktails. His cocktails are the elevated versions of what people in Lima drink. Lake even went so far as to throw out his conceptual menu after spending five days in Peru with Zarate. “I just felt it wasn't necessarily authentic enough to what I really wanted to capture here, which is an expression of Peruvian culture and ingredients,” he says.
As a result his new menu takes Peruvian cocktails to a level not even Picca did with nods to the mysticism and flavors of the culture. His Pisco Sour is served in handmade glassware painted with the Peruvian word for Mother Earth “pachamama,” meant for toasting to her.
Lake incorporated ingredients he’s never used before like lulo (a sour orange), guanábana, carob, and gooseberries. He’s even fermenting his own chicha morada.
Despite the unusual ingredients and seemingly strong flavors of the fermented fruit, pepper syrup and chicha morada, Lake’s cocktails are easy drinking and well-balanced, layering flavors so every ingredient is present without any one dominating or overwhelming Zarate’s dishes.
Here’s a peek at five drink off of Lake’s menu.
Jab to the Jaw
This one was my favorite of the five I tried. It’s fun on many levels, from its pink bubblegum hue to its festive flavors. For the garnish, Lake wanted to create a “grocery basket” with candied peppers, fermented cactus pear, and fermented strawberry. Nibble on them and they fizz. The cocktail’s beautiful nose of spice and mint pulls one in and upon first sip there’s a sweet savoriness, fruit, and subtle spice that makes you want to keep drinking.
Lake had initially wanted to create a Cuba Libre “but for Peru” with pisco, Coke, and chicha morada but ended up taking it in a whole other fancy direction. He added Ramazzotti, which has a cola flavor and a slight bitterness, and topped it with a purple chicha morada foam. His PCC — which stand for pisco, Coke, and chicha — definitely has more complexity than any Cuba Libre. However, it’s dangerously easy to put away with no apparent booziness, making it ideal for those who don’t like the taste of alcohol.
Passion of the Geist
Lake jokes that the Passion of the Geist cocktail is just you’d want at a Sandals resort in Mexico. With its tropical mix of passion fruit and banana notes, he’s not wrong. This fruity and refreshing sour is the definition of a poolside sipper: clean drinking, dry, and citrusy. Perfect for cooling off on a summer day and best enjoyed under the skylights in Rosaliné’s dining room.
For a nod to Rosaliné’s location in the former Comme Ça space, Lake wanted to create his own variation of Sam Ross’ Penicillin. Initially he smoked pisco to swap out the blended scotch the recipe calls for. However, he wasn’t happy with the result and instead mixed it into a cocktail with Chef Zarate’s housemade aji amarillo pepper syrup for a bit of heat and Kümmel for some back bone with fennel and caraway. The finished cocktail is exotic and tropical, with vegetal and spicy notes reminiscent of bell peppers.
Despite its mix of interesting ingredients like two piscos, sweet potato liqueur, Amaro Montenegro, lulo, and an albariño, the Cuy Negro (“black guinea pig”) is surprisingly muted, almost watery with a dry midpalate and a subtle bitter finish. Lake had created this drink to showcase lulo. Unfortunately, the fruit ended up making cocktails look “swampy.”
But when he added Amaro Montenegro it not only complemented the flavors but balanced out the color, making it more attractive. The Spanish wine was meant to provide more acid and character. Not my personal favorite but those who want something super light may appreciate it.
Lake hasn’t decided yet if his cocktail menu will be updated quarterly or twice a year. But find him behind the bar at Rosaliné running it and making cocktails in its first four months. After that, he will step away, as he is working on opening more of his own bars.