The Ginger Rogers always had a special place in my heart, it was the first "serious" cocktail I've ordered -- at the ripe age of twenty-one years & a month at Dupont Circle's Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe (also known for their everything-but-the-kitchen sink Dysfunctional Family Sundae) -- and a far cry from the collegey drinks I've had thus far (whose "recipe" - if you can call it that - is burying the burn of cheap spirits with whatever cloyingly sweet, artificially colored and flavored mixers at hand.) The Ginger Rogers was fizzy and tingly and refreshing and absolutely perfect for those balmy D.C. summers. In short, it got me dancing on air after a long day of interning.
Alas, it's rare that I got this drink after my Washington days, I hardly see it in menus and when I inquire about it most bartenders steered me towards the gin-gin mule instead. It's fine, esp. since ginger syrup is not exactly a standard bar component, but oh -- how I long to tap my feet with Miss Rogers again.
So you can imagine the gleeful nostalgia I got when I saw this very drink on the Stark Bar cocktail list . . .
. . . yes, please! And it was just like I remembered - the spicy-sweet ginger, the citrusy zing from fresh limes, the cool refreshing scent of mint -- all backed by that subtle, florally Plymouth Gin bouquet. Combine this with the al fresco setting of Stark Bar and you got total bliss.
Likewise, they did a magnificent job with the Bijou; another classic that's rarely on a drinks menu and another one that I usually hesitate to order, since it's made with three potent potables (gin, vermouth, chartreuse) and can be easily thrown off-balance by slightest error in proportions. Thankfully that wasn't the case here, and this silky, fragrant jewel of a cocktail made for a wonderful sipper.
The gussied-up bar bites here are well worth ordering too, Connie and I shared the marrow & bacon flatbread. Roasted marrow is pretty much a no-fail, but we appreciated the extra zip of pesto on top, which we continued to lap up with the grilled bread long after marrow's spooned out (and yes, we did contemplate sucking on the bone.) The flatbread - generously topped with mozzarella, pancetta and kale - was more than satisfying, and I justified that the crispy kale mean that it's a healthy dish.
Nutritional debate aside, Connie and I decided that our nibbles & sips were tasty and this place is definitely worth checking out again (esp. for some outdoor sipping & snacking in the summer, or perhaps after a cultured tour through LACMA.) Maybe even a full meal @ Ray's too!
What Do Others Say?
- Caroline on Crack did a "He Said, She Said" review of their signature cocktails w John from Social Domain, agreed that it "would be a perfect way to pass a warm summer evening."
- EstarLA found that "there are really just so many cocktails and treats – not to mention mains – to try on this menu."
- Sinosoul, in a retort to Midtown Lunch's snarky tweet, did a picture-only post of his hosted meal there.
- Chowballa declared that "lunch is a no-brainer here since it’s at the museum . . . But I think it’s worthy of its own trip, even for dinner."
- EatingLA noted that "LACMA finally has a restaurant worthy of the sleek new buildings on its campus."
- FoodGPS highlighted Ray's Chile Relleno as part of his Dose of Vitamin P series.
- StreetGourmetLA was also enamored with the space. "The moment I arrived I felt as though I were arriving at some gala event. This is going to be a hot spot in the summer."
- ShopEatSleep pretty much summed it up with her blog headline "Coolest museum eatery ever."
Stark Bar @ LACMA
5905 Wilshrie Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036