When Caroline and I met up with Pablo Moix at Copa d'Oro a few weeks back, he hinted at some Valentine's cocktails he had in the works for the One Group (where he works at), I was unfortunately a bit busy up till mid-February (Caroline's got the lowdown on the lovely cocktails here) so didn't get a chance to check out STK until this past Friday, since I was going to be in the area for a friend's dinner gathering. Of course, having tasted "Pablo's Tuesday" at the Copa, I was excited about what he has to whip up for the weekend.
When I got the bar, Pablo was speaking with another bartend about the specialty drinks he crafted for Oscar weekend (e.g. emphasis on Moet Hennessy distributed stuff, since their bubbly is the exclusive Academy Awards champagne.) They all looked very tasty, so after Pablo greeted me, I asked him, "if all these are your babies drowning in a lake and you can save only one, which would it be?" And so, he proceeded to make the Pimm's Smash . . .
with Glenmorangie single malt, Pimm's No. 1, mint, lemon and topped with powder sugar. Rich yet refreshing, my first thoughts of this drink was a mojito with a depth and complexity -- a little butterscotch, a little fresh herbs -- a little... crack?! (well, that's how I felt like when Pablo told me I got some powdered sugar on my nose and upper lip) Nonetheless, I think it serves the purpose Pablo intended, to make Scotch whiskeys a more approachable spirit and a cocktail component by complementing its character.
Speaking of herbs, I noticed a cup full of fresh-looking mint, basil and rosemary at the bar, so I basically ask him to "surprise me with something that's got rosemary" -- so he made a concoction with rosemary-muddled Matusalem Gran Reserva rum, lemon and orange juices, topped with a float of blackberry and diluted honey and cup of packed crushed ice. Loved the visual effect as the dark purple threads slowly drip down into the golden drink, and the taste itself is a heavenly layered woven tapestry. For the foundation, a citrusy punch with the presence of burnt sugar and vanilla from the rum, and every now and then a pop of color from the woodsy rosemary sprigs or the sweet, juicy vibrance from the blackberry honey. Definitely a bespoke cocktail that's worth putting in a menu!
Lastly, when Pablo heard I pretty much drink everything except absinthe, he took that as a challenge made me a cocktail that he's sure will change my mind (and thus, I've dubbed it the "Absinthe Challenge"cocktail.) Using Kubler absinthe, it was then mixed with his homemade grenadine and a gamut of stuff from the produce aisle (orange, lemon, lime, cucumber, mint and red grapes) and topped off with ginger ale. How healthy-sounding! And true to his word, I had no trouble with this absinthe-based cocktail -- the anise/black licorice presence is still there, but not annoyingly overbearing, it actually added a pleasant spicy note to this salad of a cocktail. Apparently, my enjoyment of the drink is noticeable, since a couple sitting next to me at the bar observed my happiness and ordered a glass too!
And of course, between drinking, photo snapping, note taking, and talking with Pablo and the One Group folks about the bar and food scene in L.A., I lost track of time and was already running late. So I closed my check and, lo and behold, found out it was practically comp'd (was charged for one soda)! So I left a Jackson and made my merry and not-quite-sober way. But even at full price (around $14 range) the drinks are well-prepared and worthwhile, and it different dispelled my notions of the cocktails there (given the hip, swanky lounge feel, I initially thought it'd have a bunch of vodka-based "-tinis" but was more than pleasantly surprised to find their cocktail menu using a number of different spirits mixed with fresh botanicals and fruits.)
Will surely come back for a drink if I ever find myself around WeHo again, and who knows, next time I may even stick around for a bite of steak (or is it Stk?) too. Or maybe I'll drop by One Sunset next time and take advantage of their Tasting Tuesday dinners after my cocktailing.
What Do Others Say (About the Food)?
- LA Mag noted its slogan ("not your daddy's steakhouse") makes it sound scarier than it actually is.
- A poor college student is probably not their target demographic, based on the Daily Trojan review
- Buzz of LA considers it a "welcome addition" to the dining scene and hopes it will be a "local classic"
- Ms. Virbila seems to like the approachable menu, with good deal of options even for vegetarians
- Food, She Thought said the service is perfect and the food is good, but "nothing groundbreaking"
STK Los Angeles
755 N La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90069