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The Best Thing Eater Editors Drank This Week, May 2020

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The move right now is drinking at home, whether it’s a DIY cocktail, a nice bottle of wine, or something a little stronger

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Dassai 50 Nigori Sake.
Dassai 50 Nigori Sake
Matthew Kang

Eater editors are staying safer at home, which means more lunchtime cooking, takeout dinners, and evening drinks. Whether the occasion calls for something refreshing and light, a strong cocktail, or a curated bottle of wine, it’s possible to drink well from the safety and comfort of one’s home. Here now are the best things Eater editors drank this week.


May 22, 2020

2007 Pot Distilled Monymusk Jamaican Rum

2007 Fine Pot Distilled Jamaican (Monymusk) 11 Year Old “Thompson Bros.”
2007 Fine Pot Distilled Jamaican (Monymusk) 11 Year Old “Thompson Bros”
Nicholas Mancall-Bitel

I risk outing myself as a complete nerd but this rum is too good not to share. I’ve been spending my happy hour building a wooden model car while sipping neat glasses of pot-distilled Monymusk Jamaican rum. It was distilled in 2007 and split 11 years aging in the Caribbean and Scotland, where independent bottlers Thompson Bros. bottled it for an exclusive release with K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood. The custom label is cool, the booze traveled around the globe even if I can’t, but what gets me is the way the rum whirls around from overripe banana to cinnamon to tahini to green pepper to pineapple to sea salt. It’s a bit expensive for an everyday rum but it’s a slow-sipper as fine as any scotch, and I consider it (and the model car) total self-care right now. — Nicholas Mancall-Bitel

Barbolini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Lancillotto

Barbolini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Lancillotto.
Barbolini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Lancillotto
Farley Elliott

Leave it to Bar Covell to get me drinking a lambrusco with an all-Italian label. This is precisely the sort of bottle I would never pick for myself, leaning instead toward clean, bright, light Italian whites and deeper California reds. Matthew Kaner knows what he’s doing, picking wines for people based on adjectives, facial expressions, price point...anything he can pick up on while working at Covell, which famously does not have a wine list to even peruse. The Los Feliz wine bar is open once again for takeout bottles of the good stuff; and if you let Kaner pick, you might end up with something just as summer sip-able as this Barbolini Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Lancillotto. — Farley Elliott

Pineapple Jarritos

For now, I’m all done with alcohol. My recycle bin became quite heavy since mid-March, typically full of empty glass bottles while the entire city sheltered-in-place. Am fairly certain most Los Angeles homes have emptied the liquor cabinet multiple times, which is why I made the switch to carbonated water and sodas. The pineapple Jarritos bottle produces a smile because of the bright logo, neon colored contents, and following notation: made with real sugar. It should be frighteningly cold, so pop it into the freezer for 20 minutes before drinking straight from the bottle. —Mona Holmes

Dassai 50 Nigori Sake

Dassai 50 Nigori Sake.
Dassai 50 Nigori Sake
Matthew Kang

I admit that when I’m not sure what sake to order at a restaurant, I just pick Dassai. It’s reliable, delicious, smooth, and pairs easily with most foods. I hadn’t tried Dassai’s sparkling nigori sake before, dubbed “Dassai 50,” but thankfully IMA had them alongside its supremely good wagyu sukiyaki bentos. With a refreshing lightness, this drank easier than a light beer. Bubbly with a hint of sweetness and fruity notes of white grape and pear, it cut through the rich beef with ease without overwhelming it. The next time I have guests over for dinner and want to serve something other than champagne to start, I think this would be a great, unexpected alternative. The only issue is, when will we be able to have guests again? Hopefully some time just after the Fourth of July. —Matthew Kang


May 15, 2020

Nut Havin’ It cocktail from Accomplice Bar in Mar Vista

Nut Havin’ It cocktail from Accomplice Bar in Mar Vista.
Nut Havin’ It cocktail from Accomplice Bar in Mar Vista
Wonho Frank Lee

Since citywide mandates forced restaurants to close dining rooms, bars across Los Angeles have had a hard time figuring how to keep their businesses going. Lucky for us, more and more bars are offering pre-made cocktails and DIY cocktail kits to enjoy from the comfort of our homes. Accomplice Bar in Mar Vista offers six kinds of premium cocktails to-go on their sister restaurant Little Fatty’s online menu. For $19, you get eight ounces of pre-made cocktails in a nice glass bottle with the ingredients listed along with suggestions for how to enjoy it. The “Nut Havin’ It” was great for mid-week drinking at home. I enjoyed it very much but don’t think I will bother with a glass and ice next time — I’d just keep it real cold and drink straight from the bottle. 3811 Grand View Blvd., Los Angeles. —Wonho Frank Lee

Domaine de Belliviére ‘Raisins Migrateurs’ 2016 from 9th Street Ramen

What is a big, bold, inexpensive bottle of red wine doing inside of a three-month-old Downtown LA ramen shop? Anything it wants, it seems. Luke Reyes and partner Devin Carlson have transitioned as well as can be to the takeout and delivery-only mandate, offering at-home gyoza kits and hearty containers of signature ramen alongside some surprisingly inexpensive sake, beer, and wine. The Raisins Migrateurs is a a rich standout that feels like a splurge on a weeknight, but clocks in at well under $20 per bottle. Available at 9th St. Ramen, 111 W. 9th St., Downtown. — Farley Elliott

Makku makgeoli (Korean rice beer)

Makku makgeoli, a cloudy Korean rice beer.
Makku makgeoli, a cloudy Korean rice beer
Matthew Kang

Makgeoli is typically something I sip while hanging out with friends at a bar or Korean barbecue. The makgeoli bottles that we usually get here in the U.S. from Korea tastes homogeneous because of the artificial ingredients required to export it stateside. NYC-based Makku claims to be one of the country’s first craft makgeoli producers, though some in Seattle and Chicago were on the trend years ago. Still, the packaging from Makku is putting it ahead of the competition with sleek white cans and creative flavor infusions like mango and blueberry (the original is my favorite). Describing the flavor of makgeoli is easy: imagine a milky rice wine with a hint of effervescence and only 5 to 6 percent alcohol by volume. Regular beer drinkers might think it’s on the cloying side, but Makku pairs wonderfully with grilled meats and banchan. The cans are a bit hard to find right now, with just a few select retailers and restaurants in the LA area, but hopefully the stuff will show up at my local Total Wine so it can join my regular drink lineup. —Matthew Kang


May 8, 2020

Casa Dragones blanco tequila

Casa Dragones blanco tequila.
Casa Dragones blanco tequila
Matthew Kang

When push comes to shove, I’m gonna go for the simple spirit and mixer combo during hot weather. I hadn’t tried the Casa Dragones blanco yet despite hearing good things. It’s very smooth, easy drinking, but packs a strong punch. Something about tequila just knocks me out even with a few ounces. Coupled with pineapple juice and a squeeze of lime, I felt like I was on a beach somewhere in Mexico instead of the sun-drenched flats of the South Bay. Since this was a Friday beverage, I took a nice nap after. —Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor

Lemonade

This week, it’s all about the lemonade. With temperatures on the rise and a lifetime supply of booze already in the personal rearview mirror, it’s been nice to mellow out with a citrus-y classic — especially when lemons are so abundant not only in markets, but on trees in yards all over the city. Social distance swap with a friend for some, or just snag the ones that hang over the sidewalks — they’re free and easy to pick. The best part? You can even add a splash or three of vodka to your finished lemonade, should you, ahem, feel like maybe you haven’t had enough alcohol this pandemic. —Farley Elliott, Eater LA senior editor

Plomari ouzo

Plomari ouzo.
Plomari ouzo
Mona Holmes

A friend brought me the cutest little bottle of Plomari Ouzo last year. It was so tiny, that it got lost behind the other bottles of liquor on my shelf. My Greek friends said it’s best enjoyed during warm weather with a bit of ice in a small glass. Since we had a particularly hot week, I followed instructions while relaxing in my hammock — took a sip and recognized the anise flavor right away. Paired with Otoño’s tapas platter, I could’ve easily been somewhere in the Mediterranean that night. But I’ll take the cozy comfort of my backyard and fresh Los Angeles air. —Mona Holmes, Eater LA reporter

Ballast Point IPA

Ballast Point IPA.
Ballast Point IPA
Matthew Kang

I’ve been on a hazy IPA kick ever since the heatwave hit LA. This excellent version from Ballast Point is supremely drinkable with a low ABV of 4.2% and very little bitterness. If anything, it tastes infused with refreshing tropical fruits and super-sweet citrus. The wonderful tangerine color helps the enjoyment too, with that cloudy opaque look. It’s the perfect hazy IPA for those isolating at home on the porch. —Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor


May 1, 2020

Iced “latte”

Iced “latte” at home
Iced “latte” at home
Hillary Dixler Canavan

As previously explored in this column, I am pregnant which means I’m watching my caffeine intake. My husband brews Counter Culture beans from our subscription every morning, and since it’s gotten warm out, I’ve been making delightfully trashy cheater iced almond milk lattes. Here’s how I do it: Three ice cubes. Pour enough coffee just to cover ice cubes. Stir with a butter knife. Add two more ice cubes. Add almond milk to fill. Stir with butter knife. But the next step is critical: Immediately replenish ice cube tray with tap water and put it back in the freezer. —Hillary Dixler Canavan, Eater restaurant editor

Debeaune Special Selection Beaujolais Village 2016

Debeaune Special Selection Beaujolais Village 2016
Debeaune Special Selection Beaujolais Village 2016
Matthew Kang

As the weather warms up in LA, I’m dreaming of being outside with friends sipping a juicy Beaujolais like this one that I picked up for a mere $14 at Total Wine recently. The wine is dark but supple, featuring aggressive berry on the front with a mellow finish that feels like when you’re slowly soaking into a pool on a hot day. Yeah, it’s got that sense of relaxation that you need during quarantine. The only thing I need to do is fire up the grill and make myself some carne asada tacos on flour tortillas to pair with this bottle. —Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor

Negroni

Toffee Negroni
Negroni

It’s been a big week of easy drinking at home. That means no big, intricate lists of ingredients, no schlepping out for more bottles of natural wine from obscure producers. This week, I drank negronis by the fistful, thanks to the easy to remember one-to-one-to-one ratio of Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin. It’s also citrus season so getting hands on a twist of orange is easy peasy — just add ice, stir, and repeat all night long. —Farley Elliott, Eater LA senior editor


April 17, 2020

B&K Classic Cocktails

B&K Classic Cocktails
B&K Classic Cocktails [Official photo]

Absolutely everyone in the restaurant and hospitality world will come out the other side of the current coronavirus pandemic and near-nationwide shutdown looking very, very different. My question is: What will all those new innovation points look like, particularly in the alcohol space? It’s been refreshing to see the city of Los Angeles and the state of California lead the way on relaxing alcohol licensing laws (allowing takeaway and delivery cocktails, for example), and I hope a lot of those initiatives remain in place forever — particularly because it means a lot of great drinking (safely) at home.

My kick this week has been B&K Classic Cocktails, a joint bottled cocktail operation from Matt Bostick and David King (former leads at Downtown’s Baldoria). The simple, elegant glass bottles offer takes on timeless drinks like the daiquiri and the old fashioned, perfect for cozy inside sipping without any of the work. The drinks are available at a variety of local retailers from Flask & Field to Bar Keeper, and they’re great for those who want to feel a little fancy, but the dishes just keep piling up. bkclassiccocktails.com —Farley Elliott, Eater LA senior editor

Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider

Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider
Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider
Mona Holmes

Sure, it’s hard to recall the days of the week right now. But remember that really glorious day we had in Los Angeles? That was only two days ago, where the high temperature reached 77 degrees, coupled with a stunning blue sky. Wednesday was the right day to open a Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider. It’s dry, light, and clean. I drank it ice cold with a sauteed pork chop, and all the flavors blended perfectly during a preview day of warmer weather months ahead. —Mona Holmes, Eater LA reporter

“Biancofongoli” Umbria Grechetto IGT Natural

Biancofongoli wine from Silver Lake Wine
Biancofongoli wine from Silver Lake Wine
Lesley Suter

Silver Lake Wine has been my partner in drinking throughout the lockdown. They finally announced they’re doing free delivery to my zip code too, which is life changing. My favorite bottle from them right now is organic Umbiran skin-contact stuff called (pronouncing this on the phone when I order is very fun) Biancofongoli.

I won’t go deep into specifics but it’s crisp and round, a perfect in-between wine for spring weather that goes from 80-degrees to rainy in a hot sec. I’m on bottle number 3. Highly recommended. —Lesley Suter, Eater travel editor

Bodegas Puelles Segundo Año Rioja from K&L Wines

Bodegas Puelles Segundo Ano Rioja
Bodegas Puelles Segundo Ano Rioja
Matthew Kang

Though it’s been mostly craft beer and brown liquor the past few weeks, we shifted to a nice, reasonably priced bottle in the cellar this week (and by cellar, our 30 bottle wine fridge in the garage). This handy Rioja I got a few years back from K&L Wine is ready to drink and super lush considering its provenance. The juicy red has a great balance of acid and mid-range heft without feeling overburdened. The aromas and characteristics aren’t too aggressive either, like a lot of natural wines. I drank this over five days and it only got better in the bottle, loosening up and becoming more friendly with whatever we ate (or on its own). The bottle is still for sale at K&L in Hollywood for $12.99, available via delivery (no pickup or will call at the moment). —Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor

Matcha latte from the Ox

Matcha latte from The Ox LA
Matcha latte from The Ox LA
Wonho Frank Lee

I‘ve been drinking a half gallon jug of Matcha Latte from the Ox LA, which has replaced cold brew for my midday caffeine reload. It’s sweet enough that my wife has been drinking out of it too. Which means I need to go pick up some more soon. I’ve noticed more of these 1/2 gallon jug offerings from local coffee shops. I believe this is a great option to support local shops while reducing physical visits. —Wonho Frank Lee, Eater LA photographer


April 10, 2020

Chivas Reval 12-year scotch

Chivas Regal 12 year old scotch
Chivas Regal 12 year old scotch
Mona Holmes

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my liquor cabinet is bare. That’s due to one part poor planning, and two parts I don’t want to admit that I’m drinking more than usual. When taking inventory, I forgot about the 12-Year Chivas Regal given to me by a friendly neighbor. In recent days, I’m actually enjoying scotch and soda. This drink makes me want to don a thick sweater, and kindle a fire. Instead, I’ll take a sip from my glass while walking around the house in socks, yoga pants, and a long-sleeved t-shirt. An added bonus: the cold weather and five seconds it takes to make a scotch and soda is very ideal. And easy. —Mona Holmes

Strand Brewing Co. amber ale

Strand Brewing amber ale
Strand Brewing amber ale
Farley Elliott

It can be helpful in difficult times like these to return to familiar comforts. That’s certainly the way I’ve been feeling about these Strand Brewing Co. amber ales, which have become a mellow staple in the fridge over the past couple of weeks. Keeping a few on hand feels like a small win, particularly when the brewery itself in Torrance can feel so oddly far away. Crack one open, sit around and watch the rain drop, and feel just a little bit closer to the tight-knit craft beer community in Los Angeles. —Farley Elliott, Eater LA senior editor

Yes Plz coffee

Coffee subscription from Yes Plz with beans and newsletter zine
Yes Plz coffee delivery
Wonho Frank Lee

The best ten minutes of my day have been the ten minutes when I am drinking coffee in the morning. I’ve been getting my beans delivered from Yes Plz coffee for at least a year, and having a consistent and friendly source of good beans roasted by folks I respect has been a real bright spot. I use a kettle gifted to me by Eater’s resident coffee obsessive Matt Buchanan and a mug made by the writer (and Eater contributor) Marian Bull with an upside-down-smiley emoji on it. It’s apparently helpful to have rituals in times of stress? This is a good one. —Meghan McCarron

Brenne Estate Cask French single malt whisky

Brenne Estate Cask - French Single Malt Whisky
Brenne Estate Cask French single malt whisky
Wonho Frank Lee

I found this whisky at Pasjoli in Santa Monica. It’s a lovely six year old whisky that has had some time in a Cognac cask, which brings out really nice burnt sugar or caramel notes. Only at about 80 proof, this whisky is very easy to drink neat and those subtle sweet flavors make it harder to stop after the first glass. It’s not a cheap bottle at around $55 to 65, but I think it deserves a spot on your bar cart. —Wonho Frank Lee

Union Jack IPA by Firestone-Walker

Union Jack IPA can on a counter
Union Jack IPA can
Matthew Kang

It’s been years since I’ve had this delightful, well-balanced IPA from Firestone-Walker but it came in a handy 12 pack that I found at Smart & Final recently. Served ice cold and poured into a glass, the brisk India Pale Ale has citrus and pine notes with a smooth, sweet finish. When I first tried it maybe 10 years ago, this would’ve qualified as bitter on my palate, but now after years of enjoying craft beer I’d say it’s more middle of the road. Paired with an online game of Parcheesi over Zoom with friends, it’s a nice way to cap the evening during quarantine. —Matthew Kang


April 3, 2020

Folk Machine blend White Light

Folk Machine White Light
Folk Machine White Light
DandM

I’m thankful to have Highland Park Wine within a few minutes’ drive of my house. The Eastside offshoot of Silverlake Wine offers the same chill demeanor, light blonde wood ambiance, and friendly vibe that’s perfect for a wine-tasting hangout — or it would be, were we not all sheltering in place. That’s okay, though, because the new process for picking up wines at Highland Park Wines is maybe even more immersive, with customers social distancing from one another on the other side of the shop’s glass door as they describe styles, flavors, and price points to the people inside. Labels are shown, discussions are had, and, miraculously, community stays intact, even now. Be sure to grab a bottle of the inexpensive and delicious Folk Machine blend White Light for easy early-evening (like, pre-happy hour even) sipping. —Farley Elliott, Eater LA senior editor

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald dry gin

Schwarzwald dry gin
Schwarzwald dry gin
Mona Holmes

By default I’m a wine and champagne lover. I’m also that woman who will do anything to avoid extra trips to the store right now, so this self-isolation forced me to dust off my liquor cabinet. It’s a hard pivot for me, as wine bubbles provide a sense of celebration and feeling of happiness. But I’m glad I searched, because nestled way in the back was Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin. I’m not one of those fancy cocktail makers, so a healthy pour with ice was plenty. One sip, and I went down the rabbit hole of finding out more about this incredible distiller. Their story is fantastic, as is the gin’s citrusy quality and wonderfully herb-filled flavor. Don’t mix it with something to water it down, it’s lovely on its own. —Mona Holmes, Eater LA reporter

Redbreast 12 Irish whiskey

Redbreast Irish Whiskey
Redbreast Irish Whiskey
Matthew Kang

Ever since visiting Dublin back in November, I’ve fallen in love with Irish whiskey. To date, one of the best examples I’ve had is Redbreast 12, which comes from Jameson but really has little in common in terms of flavor with the more commercial available cousin. Redbreast is immensely smooth but chock full of vanilla spice and fruity flavors (hey, the profiles are right there on the bottle). Though a bottle isn’t cheap at around $50-55, these uncertain and stressful times call for something that calms and relaxes the mind and body. And what better than a well-aged Irish whiskey? —Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor

Diet peach Snapple

Diet Peach Snapple
Diet Peach Snapple
Hillary Dixler Canavan

As a pregnant shelter-in-placer, my drinking regimen is decidedly soft. The most surprising drink of the moment for me is Diet Peach Snapple, which I buy in large plastic jugs and consume at an alarming rate. I think since I’m not drinking much wine these days, I’ve been enjoying the tanic element to it, the way the chemically iced tea dries out my mouth and makes me immediately crave another sip. Also shout out to adding ice cubes to tap water. Seriously, just make it colder! —Hillary Dixler Canavan, Eater restaurant editor

Mezcal from Oaxaca

Various mezcal bottles from Oaxaca
Various mezcal bottles from Oaxaca
Lesley Suter

With flavorless Le Croix pretty tricky to score these days, I finally bought an overpriced CO2 refill for my long-abandoned Sodastream. The carbonation level is not ideal, but it works in a pinch. ... OK in truth that’s about 1/18th of my day’s liquid intake and the rest is made up of either wine delivered from Silver Lake Wine (you’re doing the lord’s work, Randy Clement), or some of the mezcal I smuggled back from a recent trip to Oaxaca. Both are keeping me sane. Yes I have kids. —Lesley Suter, Eater travel editor

Anderson Valley Tropical Hazy Sour Ale

Anderson Valley tropical hazy sour ale
Anderson Valley tropical hazy sour ale
Matthew Kang

These days I’ve been having at least one can of craft beer a day, followed by a few sips of bourbon or Irish whiskey (see above) later in the evening. This tropical hazy sour ale from Anderson Valley is a nice refreshing beer with a heavy punch of acid polished off with mellower, sweeter fruit and a malty finish. I’ve been a little late to the hazy IPA and hazy beer trend in general so it’s been fun catching up with all the new craft beer expressions. Anderson Valley’s version here, sweetened with passion fruit and guava, doesn’t have any of the overt citrus notes of hazy IPAs, which I think can get a little tiring after a few. —Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor

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