Trendspotting: Blood Orange Cocktails
California citrus is one of the great things to look forward to every season, but the blood orange, which is usually available through spring, really packs a punch. With flavors that range from slightly bitter to sweet, the deep ruby-hued color of blood oranges adds a lot of pizzazz to a plate (you'll see it in salads with fennel or served with crudo on many menus right now) and especially in cocktails. Here's where to find some citrusy sippers right now.
Bar Toscana: Knowing blood orange and lavender are close companions this time of year, barman William Perbellini created the Giardini di Marzo for Toscana's adjacent bar. Made with tequila, housemade orancello and fresh lime, the cocktail is topped with a lavender-blood orange foam. Want to learn how to make it? Perbellini is teaching a mixology class in the bar on April 11 ($80 per person, includes drinks and snacks).
Birch: Poised to become a new hot spot in Hollywood, the bar program matches chef Brendan Collins' food perfectly. The cocktails feature many twists on classics, like the Bad Moon Rising, a deliciously smooth blood-orange-spiked Blood & Sand.
Barrel & Ashes: The recent addition of brunch at the Studio City bbq joint means mimosas, only really good ones made with blood orange juice. You want this with a chili-and-cheese-smothered hoe cake.
The Independence: The new downtown Santa Monica restaurant and bar has a few things going for it, including barman Vinenzo Marianella, who makes the best of seasonal ingredients he finds at the nearby farmers market. The Sawtelle is made with citrus vodka, kumquats, blood orange, honey-ginger syrup and lime bitters.
Ink.: The bar at Michael Voltaggio's restaurant is worth a stop even if you're not dining there. Even the margaritas are creative, including this one made with tequila, blood orange, chili honey and Suze gentian.
Odys + Penelope: The drinks are as straightforward as the food at Karen and Quinn Hatfield's new La Brea spot. The Bloody Derby, a blend of rye whiskey, fresh blood orange juice and honey, goes down way too easily.