1886 gets saucy with a splashy private preview party and soft-opens Wednesday
On Tuesday night 1886, the hotly anticipated new drinking den attached to Pasadena's very proper Raymond restaurant, swung open its rustic wooden doors to a host of notable nightlife players for a lavish private party that included passed oysters and fancy bowls of alcohol-laden punch.
With a clever list of cocktails created by mixology superstars Marcos Tello and Aidan Demarest (of Tello Demarest Liquid Assets), 1886 is in direct accordance with L.A.'s growing obsession with speakeasy culture and dapper retro fashion. The bar looks every bit the part of a late-19th century boite with wooden tables, a tin ceiling and a small bar backed by niche-market bottles of spirits with elaborate labels. Customers enter through a back door off the parking lot behind the Raymond restaurant, not through the restaurant itself. There is also a patio that Tello and company say is due for a makeover that will eventually include a second level.
From 6 to 9 p.m. the crowd grew thick and immobile in the center of the tiny room, waiting patiently as four bartenders worked tirelessly to create tangy Orange Grove cocktails (fresh oranges, gin, tonic water); Pepino Sours (tequila, Tapatio, cucumbers); Honey Nut Old Fashioneds (peanut-infused bourbon, honey and bitters); and sweet, creamy Peanut Butter Cups topped with rich cream that the bartenders had to shake just right before it could be squeezed on top of the drink.
Tello, dressed as usual in a fine suit with polished shoes, spent much of his time at the bar overseeing his staff of carefully trained bartenders, encouraging them, making suggestions or telling them to remake drinks that hadn't quite worked out in the way that he wanted. Meanwhile a hive of satisfied drinkers buzzed around him, including bloggers from many of the city's food and nightlife blogs and more than a few nightlife heavy hitters and bar owners, including downtown kingpin Cedd Moses and Villains Tavern owner Dana Hollister.
Right now 1886 is in its soft-open phase and expects to celebrate a grand opening in early December.
1250 Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, (626) 441-3136.
Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times