Asian-style stools surround the angular bar that's topped with everything from Mexican candelas to candy roses.
First Look: Roy Choi's Pot Bar at The Line HotelBy Lesley Balla
February 7, 2014
Only Roy Choi could get away with serving kimchi soju in a hotel lobby bar. And only Choi could call that bar Pot. The chef was tapped to oversee the food and beverage program at The Line Hotel, a new boutiqe hotel that replaced Koreatown's Radisson. His POT restaurant is yet to be unveiled. Look for the Korean hot pot restaurant, the Cafe and the vegetarian Commissary soon. But the Pot Lobby Bar opened this week, with cocktails curated by Matt Biancaniello, a barman known for keeping things like uni, nori, dill, arugula and mushrooms in his arsenal. Here's the lowdown.
The Drinks: Biancaniello, who created the cocktail list for Plan Check Fairfax and tended at the Library Bar at The Roosevelt and Cliff's Edge, is in rare form here. Choi asked him to really push the envelope with the drinks, and he delivered. Classics aren't Manhattans and sazeracs but Long Island Iced Teas, White Russians and Fuzzy Navels - all with a twist. There's soju infused with kimchi or curry, which is great if you like kimchi or curry; the spice in the latter is very prominent, like you're drinking, well, curry. There's also beer on tap (Hite, Hitachino, Negro Modelo) and in cans and bottles; red, white and sparkling wine by the glass and bottle, which veers from French Burgandy to "glassy" selections like Fetzer white zinfandel; and a nice artisanal spirits list for more straightforward cocktails. Check out the slide show for more.
The Space: Sean Knibb took the very open lobby space of the hotel and formed a swank puzzle of angled banquettes and cozy pentagonal-shaped booths. The bar, which anchors the back of the room, looks almost like a large wooden mushroom with shiny balloons that spell out "pot bar" nesting in the top. Boxes full of toy water guns and colorful glasses, big bowls of fruit, Mexican candelas, lollipop roses, tamarind sticks and bowls of candy line the bar. The vibe is playful, low-key, groovy and dark. In a word: Choi.
The Prices: Cocktails are $11-$13; beers $6-$10 on tap, $6-$14 in bottles, and $9-$19 for large format bottles; wine is $7-$23 for a glass. Valet is $8 with a validated ticket from the bar.
The Details: Opens nightly at 5 PM; 3515 Wilshire Blvd., 213-368-3030
The Uni, tequila touched with uni puree and heavily seasoned with cumin and smoked salt, sounds crazier than it actually tastes - a piece of nori sticks out of the glass, giving the drink some brininess
A favorite is pretty simple as far as these drinks go - mezcal with Fever Tree tonic water, muddled kumquats and a big piece of dill, which is refreshing, smoky and herbaceous all at the same time.
Biancaniello's Fuzzy Navel riffs off the sweet drink with peach and apricot liqueurs, fresh passionfruit, muddled kumquats and dried peaches as garnish. The Long Island Iced Tea isn't what you're used to either: mezcal, rum, arrack, aquavit, gin and blood orange soda make it a smoky, potent concoction. To give it that Choi spin, it comes with a big boba straw to suck up chunks of fresh aloe resting in the bottom of the glass
Mylar balloons spelling "pot bar" nest in the top of the bar, while Mexican candelas burn bright throughout the space.