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17 Cocktails To Try Before LA's Warm Summer Ends

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2008_10_hasmapsla.jpgWhile Los Angeles gifts its residents with incredible year-round weather, there is something to be said for its gorgeous summer days. Whether days are spent taking in ocean views or enjoying a meal on the patio, it all pairs nicely with a frosty, often fruity libation. The cocktail programs in LA have evolved well beyond saccharine rum drinks topped with colorful umbrellas to include innovative ingredients like heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, and house-made seasonal shrubs. And while the cocktails have grown up a little, the effect is the same. Approximately one month of summer remains to tackle this list, in no particular order. —Crystal Coser


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Tomato and Okra at COMMISSARY

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Commissary’s vegetable-centric menu is reflected in Matthew Biancaniello’s highly seasonal cocktail program. A summertime staple is the tomato and okra, with okra-infused cachaça, zebra heirloom tomatoes, and lovage. Fresh and herbal, nothing is more reminiscent of garden on a hot summer day. [Photo: Audrey Ma]

Vaudeville at Faith & Flower

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The extraordinary cocktail program helmed by Michael Lay pays homage to the classic recipes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. While the cocktails demonstrate true mastery of craft, the Vaudeville is a seasonal gem. With vodka, raspberry gum, house-made aromatic bitters, and topped with Italian merengue; the sweet, slightly viscous concoction could begin or end a perfect summertime meal.

Fermented Strawberry at Brilliantshine

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Josh Goldman and Julian Cox are at it again at their newly opened Santa Monica saloon. The duo demonstrates their cocktail expertise in a tight list of cocktails. Their fermented strawberry, with vodka, Amaro Sibona, pisco, lemon, and salt is light and fresh, with a hint of bitterness and salinity on the backend.

Snow Cones at Good Times at Davey Wayne's

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Nothing evokes memories of childhood summers like brightly colored snow cones. The Houston brothers’ 70’s-inspired adult playground kicks them up a notch with a healthy douse of booze. Go for a raspberry with tequila or blackberry ginger with bourbon, enjoy some throwback tunes, and take in the glory that is summertime in LA.

Sherpa at Upstairs Bar Ace Hotel

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One of the trendiest additions to the blossoming Arts Districts, the Ace Hotel gives its guests some of LA's best offerings. Enjoy a poolside Sherpa, refreshing and citrusy with pisco, Kronan Swedish Punsch, and grapefruit, while taking in sweeping views of downtown and the 1920’s architecture of the storied United Artists building.

Croatian Vacation at Melrose Umbrella Co

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The gorgeous old world design of Melrose Umbrella Co makes it an ideal place to enjoy a well-crafted cocktail. A standout summer offering is the Croatian Vacation, with vodka, strawberries, lime, Lillet Rouge, rose water, and a cherry tomato will make you feel as if you are dancing on a beach in Hvar.

Shandy Koufax at Harlowe

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While Harlowe’s popular Shandy Koufax has been a staple on the menu, it will be taken off at summer’s end. It would be remiss to not to try the colorful concoction of Cana Brava, Meletti, pineapple gomme, Angostura bitters, and California IPA for surprising hoppiness. Other seasonal drinks experiment with ingredients like black tea-infused boba, beet purrée, and golden balsamic. [Photo: William Bradford]

Malditos Secretos at La Cuevita

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This new, old world Mexican grotto set in the heart of the Highland Park features traditional agave spirits through its extensive selection of tequilas and mezcals. Their Malditos Secretos, comprised of Mezcal El Silencio, Ancho Reyes, Jamaica flower, lime, and agave, is smoky and slightly sweet, with notes of dried chili to tie it all together.

Demerara Rum Swizzle at Acabar

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Acclaimed mixologist duo Josh Goldman and Julian Cox transport guests to the tropics with their classic rum drink. Served in Acabar’s seductive surroundings, the colorful Demerara Rum Swizzle, a pungent mix of fragrant Demerara rum, lime, grapefruit, falernum, and pomegranate, gives guests a taste of the exotic in the heart of LA.

Bourbon Lemonade at Cafe Del Rey

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Nothing is more iconic of summertime than sipping cold lemonade while taking in ocean views. Café del Rey spikes theirs with cherry-infused bourbon, orange liqueur, and Bing cherry purée.

Tiny's Shandy at Harvard & Stone

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A haven for serious cocktail connoisseurs, the Houston Brothers score again with Harvard & Stone’s American spirits-driven digs. Tiny’s Shandy, an elixir of gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth, lemon, thyme, and white ale, has a complex flavor profile that breaks away from the myriad rum and vodka drinks that often dominate summer cocktail menus. [Photo: Nigel Walsh]

The Fig & Olive at Fig & Olive

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It just doesn’t get more refreshing than Fig & Olive’s namesake cocktail. Cucumber-infused vodka and blood orange olive oil are made light with frothy egg white, crisp with muddled celery, and citrusy with blood orange purée. Paired with a few Mediterranean bites, the cocktail can transport you to a sunny day on the French Riviera.

Mezcal at ink.

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ink’s well-rounded cocktail menu features a drink for every palate. Their summertime specialty is a blend of mezcal, tequila, amontillado sherry, rosewater verjus, and strawberry lambic for a smoky, slightly sweet libation.

Shiso Sexy at Hyde Sunset

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Hyde Sunset’s Shiso Sexy is a fresh and soothing summer cocktail with innovative Asian flair. West Hollywood’s hottest digs muddles shiso leaves and lime with vodka and yellow chartreuse. Topped with green tea, this refreshing cocktail will literally have you seeing stars.

Sun King at Big Bar

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Big Bar’s bar manager Aaron Alvarez’s favorite summertime offering is the bittersweet Sun King. This perfect patio tipple is comprised of the aperitifs Kina l’Avion and Bonal, which bring nuance and flavor, and fresh lemon and grapefruit juices.

Pinky Gonzalez at The Corner Door

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Prolific and perfectionist barman Beau du Bois is adding a tiki twist to his summer menu with this tequila-infused Pinky Gonzalez, made with reposado tequila, lime, orgeat and curacao over crushed ice. Make it happen today.

Chestnut Cup at The Chestnut Club

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Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix are making sure the denizens of Santa Monica are getting the best cocktails of their life at this sleek drink den. Try the Chestnut Cup, a variant on the Pimm's cup made with gin, campari, orgeat, lemon and bitters. Sip carefully, my friends.

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Tomato and Okra at COMMISSARY

Commissary’s vegetable-centric menu is reflected in Matthew Biancaniello’s highly seasonal cocktail program. A summertime staple is the tomato and okra, with okra-infused cachaça, zebra heirloom tomatoes, and lovage. Fresh and herbal, nothing is more reminiscent of garden on a hot summer day. [Photo: Audrey Ma]

Vaudeville at Faith & Flower

The extraordinary cocktail program helmed by Michael Lay pays homage to the classic recipes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. While the cocktails demonstrate true mastery of craft, the Vaudeville is a seasonal gem. With vodka, raspberry gum, house-made aromatic bitters, and topped with Italian merengue; the sweet, slightly viscous concoction could begin or end a perfect summertime meal.

Fermented Strawberry at Brilliantshine

Josh Goldman and Julian Cox are at it again at their newly opened Santa Monica saloon. The duo demonstrates their cocktail expertise in a tight list of cocktails. Their fermented strawberry, with vodka, Amaro Sibona, pisco, lemon, and salt is light and fresh, with a hint of bitterness and salinity on the backend.

Snow Cones at Good Times at Davey Wayne's

Nothing evokes memories of childhood summers like brightly colored snow cones. The Houston brothers’ 70’s-inspired adult playground kicks them up a notch with a healthy douse of booze. Go for a raspberry with tequila or blackberry ginger with bourbon, enjoy some throwback tunes, and take in the glory that is summertime in LA.

Sherpa at Upstairs Bar Ace Hotel

One of the trendiest additions to the blossoming Arts Districts, the Ace Hotel gives its guests some of LA's best offerings. Enjoy a poolside Sherpa, refreshing and citrusy with pisco, Kronan Swedish Punsch, and grapefruit, while taking in sweeping views of downtown and the 1920’s architecture of the storied United Artists building.

Croatian Vacation at Melrose Umbrella Co

The gorgeous old world design of Melrose Umbrella Co makes it an ideal place to enjoy a well-crafted cocktail. A standout summer offering is the Croatian Vacation, with vodka, strawberries, lime, Lillet Rouge, rose water, and a cherry tomato will make you feel as if you are dancing on a beach in Hvar.

Shandy Koufax at Harlowe

While Harlowe’s popular Shandy Koufax has been a staple on the menu, it will be taken off at summer’s end. It would be remiss to not to try the colorful concoction of Cana Brava, Meletti, pineapple gomme, Angostura bitters, and California IPA for surprising hoppiness. Other seasonal drinks experiment with ingredients like black tea-infused boba, beet purrée, and golden balsamic. [Photo: William Bradford]

Malditos Secretos at La Cuevita

This new, old world Mexican grotto set in the heart of the Highland Park features traditional agave spirits through its extensive selection of tequilas and mezcals. Their Malditos Secretos, comprised of Mezcal El Silencio, Ancho Reyes, Jamaica flower, lime, and agave, is smoky and slightly sweet, with notes of dried chili to tie it all together.

Demerara Rum Swizzle at Acabar

Acclaimed mixologist duo Josh Goldman and Julian Cox transport guests to the tropics with their classic rum drink. Served in Acabar’s seductive surroundings, the colorful Demerara Rum Swizzle, a pungent mix of fragrant Demerara rum, lime, grapefruit, falernum, and pomegranate, gives guests a taste of the exotic in the heart of LA.

Bourbon Lemonade at Cafe Del Rey

Nothing is more iconic of summertime than sipping cold lemonade while taking in ocean views. Café del Rey spikes theirs with cherry-infused bourbon, orange liqueur, and Bing cherry purée.

Tiny's Shandy at Harvard & Stone

A haven for serious cocktail connoisseurs, the Houston Brothers score again with Harvard & Stone’s American spirits-driven digs. Tiny’s Shandy, an elixir of gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth, lemon, thyme, and white ale, has a complex flavor profile that breaks away from the myriad rum and vodka drinks that often dominate summer cocktail menus. [Photo: Nigel Walsh]

The Fig & Olive at Fig & Olive

It just doesn’t get more refreshing than Fig & Olive’s namesake cocktail. Cucumber-infused vodka and blood orange olive oil are made light with frothy egg white, crisp with muddled celery, and citrusy with blood orange purée. Paired with a few Mediterranean bites, the cocktail can transport you to a sunny day on the French Riviera.

Mezcal at ink.