27 Mar The Maestro and The Conductor at Mixology 101
Call it “Mixology 101” and put it in a shopping mall and it doesn’t sound like a craft cocktail bar. Oh! But it IS! The Maestro Salvatore Calabrese and his Conductor Joseph Brooke have created a top-notch drink experience….whether you are a cocktail geek or a weary shopper. Located at the Original Farmers Market, Mixology 101 is located next to its sister restaurant Planet Dailies.
Salvatore Calabrese is one of the world’s leading bartenders who began his career at an early age in a bar in Maiori, a small village on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Developing a talent for combining flavors, Salvatore moved to London where he worked at Duke’s Hotel in St James’s, creating a niche market for cognacs, and the Lanesborough Hotel in Knightsbridge. The award winning bartender’s latest venture is at Salvatore at Playboy, in the heart of London’s exclusive Mayfair.
As for Joseph Brooke, “The Conductor”, I have known him from the time when he first worked at Copa d’Oro and have since followed his career as he won the reality show, On the Rocks: The Search for America’s Top Bartender, was the director of spirits for the Edison downtown, and then the head barman at Next Door Lounge in Hollywood. But, Joe is at home in his new place as “The Conductor” at Mixology 101 where he oversees the menu of 40+ cocktails.
I had the pleasure to spend a week with Salvatore in New Zealand last year when he was a judge at the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup. Salvatore is a showman who understands the art of being a bartender. He knows how to make every customer feel special while working quickly and being the consummate host. He explains that a chef is an artist and a creator who expresses him/herself on a plate but does engage with the customer and does not have to act as a host; a sommelier is not an artist but rather a host who engages directly with their customers; a bartender is both a creator/artist and a host, making bartending a unique job, unlike any other.
The menu of 40+ cocktails is divided into eight sections: Champagne Cocktails, Classics, Pre-Dinner, Martinis, Short & Sublime, Long & Luscious, Non-Alcoholic and After-Dinner.
Hollywood Bubbles – Benedictine, fresh raspberry puree, pomegranate juice and champagne. Raspberry is so fresh, the bubbles bright, the pomegranate adds tartness and the Benedictine adds a little touch of spice (gingerbread). Well balanced, bright and tasty!
Maestro’s Special Fizz – Capri natura limoncello, lemon sorbet, fresh mint & Prosecco.
Bellini – Prosecco and fresh white peach puree.
Pisco Sour – La Diablada Pisco (*I had Kappa Pisco in mine), fresh lemon & lime juices, Chuncho bitters, gum syrup & egg white, served in a cocktail glass.
The famous Breakfast Martini – Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and orange marmalade – was created by Salvatore who credits his wife for the idea. As he is not much of a breakfast guy, his wife wanted him to eat the toast and marmalade she had made him rather than his regular espresso. So, instead he took the marmalade and he made a martini. By the way, the Breakfast Martini is so famous that it has its own wikipedia page!
The Spicy Fifty – Stolichnaya Vanilla vodka, elderflower cordial, fresh lime juice, honey syrup and chili pepper. With vanilla on the nose, you can get a whif of the heat from the pepper. Creamy and round with acid thru the middles. The heat was gentle and lingered in the back of my palate, making my mouth water, wanting more. Good balance of sweet, sour and lingering heat.
Short & Sublime
Sunburn Margarita – El Teroro Reposado tequila, fresh lime juice, agave syrup, fresh pomegranate and passion fruit, served in a cocktail glass.
Tennessee Squirrel – Jack Daniel’s, amaretto, passion fruit syrup, fresh passion fruit and lemon juice, served over ice in an old-fashioned glass – tropical, fresh bright with a tart finish.
Long & Luscious
Tropical Butterfly – Oxley gin, passion fruit juice, elderflower cordial, pear puree & fresh strawberries, served over ice in a highball glass. This may be listed under long and luscious but it sure didn’t take long to drink it!
Grace – Grey Goose La Poire, fresh pear, apple and lemon juices, honey syrup, lemongrass & fresh mint, served over crushed ice in a highball glass.
It’s worth taking note of the Mixology 101 space. It embodies its California home with a spacious open-air lounge with a central bar. Salvatore implemented design elements such as the refrigerated drawers in the underbar, used to store fresh fruit and herbs, and the patented Calabrese Sink, a unique all-in-one unit that combines a sink, chopping board, bin, garbage chute and waste disposal, all in order to have no wasted space.
The Mixology 101 philosophy is to integrate mixology and the bar concept. To be good at one, you have to be good at the other. All marks have to be met, from fresh ingredients to well-made cocktails to great service. And Mixology 101 lives up to the mark. With its central location between the Original Farmers Market and The Grove, Mixology 101 welcomes a cross-section as it attracts tourists and locals alike. With an approachable but inventive menu, mixed with classics and signatures, guests will keep coming back. I know I will!
Mixology 101 at Planet Dailies
6333 W. 3rd St., Ste. O20
Los Angeles, CA 90036
For more photos from my visits to Mixology 101, click here.