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Finding 'gold' in Santa Monica: Copa d'Oro's drinks dazzle [UPDATED]

February 10, 2009 |  9:00 am

In case you missed it, the Guide profiled a new bar in Santa Monica called Copa d'Oro (cup of gold) in Friday's Calendar section.  The lounge, which is the first nightlife project by Buddha's Belly co-owner Jonathan Chu, is markedly different from the location's past occupant, Lounge 217. The complete redesign includes exposed brick and custom light fixtures that emit glowing orange hues.

The cocktail destination's best attribute, however, might just be one of its staff members.  Former Providence (and Doheny) barman Vincenzo Marianella has tuned up at Copa d'Oro.  Jonathan Chu remembered working with him years ago after he read our own Betty Hallock's excellent feature on the mixologist last year.  Subsequently, he made Marianella an offer to man the bar (and invest) at the just-opened lounge.

If you are a fan of classic or inventive cocktails, it's worth checking out one of Marianella's creations.  Creative concoctions including a Campanula Sour (grapefruit-infused vodka, St.-Germain elderflower liqueur, red bell pepper, fresh mint and fresh lemon juice) and a "Bikini Martini" (Sagatiba cachaça, limoncello, passion fruit) are on the large drink menu, and Marianella pays homage to bartenders' specialty cocktails from around the world by listing their drinks on the menu (the Bikini Martini, for example, is a recipe from Jamie Tarrel in London).   

The bar is not too trendy, and anyone can get inside.  However, one note of caution: The cocktails don't come cheap. Most cost around  $12, while the least expensive goes for $8, and the most expensive tops out at $17 (the "Smoke of Scotland").   But even dive bars are charging $10 or more for martinis these days, so don't let that get in the way of trying out a "Green Glacier" or two at Copa d'Oro.

Updated, 11:40 a.m., This post previously misspelled the bartender’s name at Copa d’Oro as Vincenzo Marienella. His name is Vincenzo Marianella.

Copa d'Oro, 217 Broadway, Santa Monica. (310) 576-3030.

-- Charlie Amter

Photo of Marianella at work inside Copa D'oro by Gina Ferazzi /Los Angeles Times