8 Garden-to-Glass Cocktails to Sip in LA Right Now

By Lesley Balla  |  June 17, 2014
Credit: Bryson K. Igarta

As our gardens and farmer's markets fill up with the beautiful bounty of summer, so do our glasses at top bars around town. LA’s best mix masters are looking to greens, beets, carrots, mushrooms and even celery for their latest concoctions, which give this season’s cocktails a decidedly healthy kick. Here are eight places where you can knock back some booze and some fresh fruits or vegetables in one gulp.

1) Cliff’s Edge: Matt Biancaniello is the garden god when it comes to cocktails. After moving on from Hollywood's Library Bar, he's been popping up and consulting around town everywhere, from Roy Choi's Pot Bar to Plan Check on Fairfax to this Silver Lake gem where he's now showcasing his savory sips every Wednesday night. Set up in a bar on the patio, Biancaniello shows up with whatever he's foraged or found at the markets that week, making infusions and liqueurs like apricot and candy cap mushroom-infused Cynar. He recently did something with wild bay leaf-infused Art in the Sage, a ginlike spirit, mixed with apricot, wild elderflower and grapefruit leaf-infused vinegar. Layers and layers of flavor. Find him and his latest creations from 6-11 PM on the patio. 

2) Freddy Smalls: We love stone-fruit season for many reasons, but especially when things like peaches, plums and nectarines land in our glass. In West LA, there's a new gin sour made with fresh peach juice and purée aptly titled Peach Perfect. Something like that goes swimmingly with the menu's smoked fingerling potatoes and dip or flash-grilled steak tartare.

3) Picca: Julian Cox is making the rounds between his bars, updating the lists for the warmer months. For Ricardo Zarate’s Peruvian spot, he flirts with the juice craze by integrating market ingredients like beets and celery into his cocktails. The Beets by J has citrus, beet juice, agave, tequila and smoked salt. The Mr. Green is more complex with celery, lemon, grape spirit and salt air.


4) The Corner Door: Beau du Bois continues to wow with his seasonal menus. Summer means things like Friend W/ Benefits, made with reposado tequila, housemade strawberry liqueur, sherry and lime.

5) Gracias Madre: For its new brunch menu, the vegan Mexican spot in West Hollywood has a few new cocktails up its sleeve from barman Jason Esiner. He created a spin on the Bloody Mary using mezcal, peak-season heirloom tomatoes — which make all the difference — vegan Worcestershire and escabeche. 

6) Republique: Look on the drink menu for the “market” drinks. There's a drink made with Harry’s Berries, citrus and your choice of booze and another one with celery, serrano, tequila and salt that takes you to the savory side of the margarita spectrum.

7) Crossroads: The sassy vegan spot doesn’t just substitute meat-free ingredients into its comfort-food staples; they also add a wealth of vegetables to cocktails. Here, drinks are made with organic spirits too. Take the Y Tumami Tambien: made with smoked mushroom-infused bourbon and rye whiskeys, sweet vermouth, cherry tomato, lime and agave. It’s almost like a Bloody Larry (a Bloody Mary with whiskey). The truffle-dill-cheese-tuille garnish really adds a savory edge.

8) A.O.C.: You can always expect something fun and seasonal from barman Christian Rollich at the West Hollywood restaurant as well as at Lucques and Tavern in Brentwood. Exhibit A: The Green Goddess, a garden delight made with chamomile-infused vodka, cucumber, basil and jalapeño.