Hand-Crafted Cocktails That Scream Southern California, USA

Photo of Michael Nagy
30 November 2016

Synonymous with the red carpet, glamor and glitz, LA has fostered a major drinking scene, rivaling those of New York, London and Paris. Farm-to-glass boozing was essentially born in LA, where fruits, vegetables and herbs grow year round. Here are the quintessential SoCal cocktails.

Milano Swizzle | Courtesy of Karen Grill, Sassafras Saloon

Milano Swizzle

Bar, American
Map View
Secret Garden Gimlet
Secret Garden Gimlet | Courtesy of Amber Billiard, a mixologist at Side Door
LA’s soothing desert elixir, Aloe Vera, has been extracted and infused to create a SoCal liqueur called ‘Chareau Aloe Liqueur’. Using California-distilled grape eau de vie as the base, Chareau layers the flavors of cucumber, muskmelon, spearmint and lemon peel with fresh pressed Aloe Vera juice.
Developed and introduced in LA, Chareau has quickly become popular among locals. The Milano Swizzle combines Chareau with fresh citrus, Italian vermouth and the tangy brightness of strawberry-cucumber shrub.
½ oz Chareau Aloe Liqueur
½ oz fresh lemon juice
¼ oz simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)
1 ½ oz Punt e Mes
¾ oz *strawberry-cucumber shrub
1 ½ oz soda wáter
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Garnish – strawberry slice and mint sprig
Glass – Collins
* Strawberry-Cucumber Shrub:
Slice one pint of fresh strawberries and half of a hothouse cucumber, and combine in a large saucepan with one quart of Champagne vinegar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain out the solids and mix with 1 ½ cups of simple syrup (1:1). Keep refrigerated for up to one month.
Prep: Add all ingredients except bitters to a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Use a bar spoon or swizzle stick to combine and chill, then top with more crushed ice and 2 dashes of bitters. Garnish.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Karen Grill of the Sassafras Saloon

Secret Garden Gimlet

2 oz Prairie Cucumber Flavored Organic Vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz * lavender honey syrup
2 dashes of absinthe
Garnish: thin slice of cucumber and lavender flower
Glass: Coupe or cocktail
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and finely strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of cucumber and a lavender flower.
* Lavender honey
Combine one cup of honey, one cup of water and ½ cup of lavender flowers. Heat on stove until honey is dissolved. Let cool and store in sealed container. Let sit overnight or up to a couple days. Fine strain before using.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Amber Billiard, a mixologist at the Side Door

Side Door, 3801 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA +1 949 717 4322

The Griffith | Courtesy of GreenBar Distillery
The Griffith | Courtesy of GreenBar Distillery

The Griffith

It’s sweet and fresh with a little bit of a bite. Local lemons and cucumbers are mixed with GreenBar Craft Distillery’s TRU organic garden vodka and GRAND POPPY organic bitter liqueur to create a true taste of the city. ‘Many great cities have signature cocktails. It was time for Los Angeles to create a drink to call its own, something that reflects the local culture that we can savor with friends and share with visitors,’ said Melkon Khosrovian, co-founder and spirits-maker at Greenbar Craft Distillery, LA’s first distillery since prohibition.
1 oz TRU organic garden vodka

1 oz GRAND POPPY organic bitter liqueur

1 oz freshly squeezed local lemon

1 oz simple syrup

2-3 slices fresh local cucumber
Glass: Cocktail
Prep: Muddle the cucumbers and then add the rest of your ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of cucumber.
Photo and recipe courtesy of GreenBar Distillery, 2459 E 8th St, Los Angeles, CA +1 213 375 3668

Aviation Blush Sour

This delightfully sophisticated cocktail is aesthetically pleasing, light and flavorful. It is a twist on the classic Aviation cocktail.


1.5 oz Aviation gin

¼ oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

¼ oz Crème de violette or Crème Yvette

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

¼ oz simple syrup (1:1)

1 large egg white (optional)

Garnish: edible violet flower

Glass: Coupe

Prep: Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for a full 15 seconds. Add more ice and shake again. Finely strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an edible violet flower.

Adapted recipe courtesy of author Michael Nagy.

D. B. Cooper | Courtesy of Now Boarding

D.B. Cooper

Bar, American, $$$
Map View
Mixologist Wil Figueroa of West Hollywood bar ‘Now Boarding’ is serving up this special summer elixir. With Olmeca Altos Blanco Tequila, watermelon, sugar, lime and a salted rim, it’s the perfect light, fruity cocktail to quench your thirst this summer. Garnish with a lime and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.
Side Note: For a variation, use IXÁ organic tequila from Greenbar in LA and agave syrup in place of the sugar. Greenbar also makes Fruitlab orange liqueur if you desire more alcohol and citrus in your drink.

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