Ever since the Melrose bistro-brasserie hybrid Comme Ça opened in '07, there have been only as many cocktails on the menu as I have fingers on one hand -- four signature cocktails and "dealer's choice." But with more than 300 drinks in mixologist Joel Black's repertoire, it seemed inequitable to hold back on the menu (not all of us are savvy drink orderers). But Black has gotten busy. A new cocktail menu now lists 22, by my count.
It's a selection of pithy drinks with pithy descriptions (including old-timey measurements). There are classics mixed in with new twists, such as a Gin & Tarragonic with "a jigger of gin, half a pony each of Drambuie and fresh lime juice, pinch of tarragon, splash of tonic."
"I'm really proud of that guy," says Black, who won the Martin Miller's Gin & Tonic competition with the concoction. "It was my very first competition."
As for the menu, "it took a couple months to put together," he says. "I wanted something extensive but not too overwhelming. About 20 drinks is easy to scroll through and means there's something for everyone -- sweet, tangy, straightforward." (Black says he is also gunning for Best Drinks List at the Tales of the Cocktail convention in New Orleans.)
Dubbed 18A (a reference to the 18th Amendment, which established Prohibition), the menu also includes the Hybrid, described as such: "Add a little green chartreuse to a Sidecar and you get a pleasantly responsible vehicle for good times." And the Old Fashion: "Mind your Ps & Qs. Bourbon candy with bitters, orange and lemon may cause you to forget your manners."
And there's the Caip-Germain-ha, Black's twist on the caipirinha, made with St-Germain elderflower liqueur and raspberries. Says Black: "Nobody can pronounce this one."
Comme Ça, 8479 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 782-1104.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo of Comme Ça's Penicillin from its former drinks menu, courtesy of Food Art Group