I haven’t been to the Backstage in awhile. I had stopped going to this self-proclaimed “best dive bar in the world” after it seemed to gain much popularity. Now, the hipsters outnumbered the barflies. And during karaoke night, the drunk jocks bogarded the mic from the old regulars. But last night I thought I’d revisit my old hood and my friend and I stopped by for a drink. At 8pm, I figured there wouldn’t be much of a crowd. Wrong. The jukebox was blaring Run-DMC and most all the seats were taken by the young folk.
A bit annoyed I was about change venues when I spied a specialty cocktail list. WTF? In a dive bar? Really? That’s new. Sure enough both sides of a table sign listed the girliest drink menu I’ve ever read (prices ranged from $6-$9–again, this is a dive bar). With names like Raspberry Truffle, Trail Mix and Green Eyes, each cocktail was mixed with liqueurs, fruit juices and cream. Instead of “Drinks” they should have named it “Girl Drink Menu.” Now THAT would have been awesome. But, really, what’s my guy friend supposed to order? I guess it’s assumed dudes would order one of the many beers on tap or bottled.
There are mai tais and margaritas, but the only thing on the drink menu that really perked my interest was “Bad Dog” ($9) since it uses that coffee-flavored soda, Coca Cola Blak, as well as Stoli Vanilla, Kahlua and cream. I thought they’d shake up the ingredients and serve it in a martini glass but instead the bartender poured everything into a glass filled with ice. “This is the first time I’ve made this,” she said. “Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone make a cocktail with Blak before,” I responded. “Yeah, this guy [gesturing to another bartender] was the one who came up with the cocktail.”
I chatted with the creator of drinks saying again how it was unusual cocktail. “Yeah, well when you’re done with that I’ll fix you up a Milky Way cocktail.” This guy has a real sweet tooth. Cool! I was looking forward to downing my cocktail. Presentation wasn’t all that. It just looked like a White Russian with a green straw. But still, it had most of my fave ingredients. I was excited.
But then I took that first tentative sip. Shudder! Ugh, too much sugar even for me. My guy friend laughed at my reaction. He knew it would be too sweet judging just by its ingredients. But my excitement for a Blak cocktail didn’t allow me to see all that. I had to finish it though…even though my teeth hurt and my stomach gurgled and the drink left a slick on my tongue. “How can you drink that?” my friend asked. “Must. Finish.” I soldiered through and couldn’t help but think how much better this drink could have been if the mixologist just kept it simple: Blak and Stoli Vanilla over ice with a twist of lime. As it was, all that cream was overkill. Next time, I think I’ll just stick to my Jameson.
10400 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, California 90232
Cross Street: Motor Avenue