When I first checked out Ivan Kane’s Café Wa s in Hollywood last year, I couldn’t help but think that the only thing missing from this beautiful Bohemian restaurant was a specialty cocktail list. Amazingly it didn’t have one. Sure it has a full bar, an upstairs absinthe bar and a couple of absinthe cocktails but no list of special drinks to speak of.
And then just like that…well, months later my wish came true. The café has just debuted a list of cocktails inspired by vintage recipes as well as a twist on the standards. Perfect to enjoy in this absinthe-dreamlike setting.
Even though Ivan is a single-barrel Jack-on-the-rocks kind of guy, he swears that he still enjoys these cocktails which serve as an ode to his restaurant and complement its spirit of fun. The champagne-St. Germaine cocktail, Champagne Suzy ($13), is named after Ivan Kane’s wife. Lucid Stairway to Nowhere ($15) — a mix of champagne and Lucid absinthe — is of course inspired by that staircase near the bar that leads up to, not a door, but a mirror. There are also the standards like Manhattans (yay!), margaritas, and dirty martinis.
Deep Sazerac ($12): Lucid absinthe, rye, sugar cubes, Angostura bitters over ice and cherries. I LOVE Sazeracs even though I’m not crazy about absinthe, the absinthe wash is just enough to add a nice warmth to the rye. But the café’s Sazerac tasted like it had an actual dose of absinthe in it which overpowered the rye. Fortunately, I was able to send it back and my next cocktail, with less of the green stuff, was much much better.
Bukowski’s Night Cap ($12): VS Cognac, Chambord and milk over ice. Ivan is a big Bukowski fan and this cocktail is best enjoyed in the Bukowski lounge just past the stairway to nowhere. Read passages from the pages of Women papering the lounge walls while nursing one of these. I only wish that it had a bit more cognac in it though. As it was, I tasted the milk more than anything and a hint of the Chambord. I recently had the Milk Punch at Joe’s Restaurant in Venice, a breakfast cocktail strong on the bourbon, and this night cap reminded me of it, ‘cept without as much liquor. I wonder how this would taste if it was raspberry preserves instead of Chambord shaken in here. Hmm. BTW I already put in my request for them to serve this at their infamous bottomless brunches on the weekend.
Kane Old Fashioned ($13): Four Roses bourbon, sugar cube, bitters, and club soda and cherry, orange and a lemon twist. If you want a bourbon drink but favor something lighter than the Manhattan, this is the cocktail to get. The oranges and sugar take the edge off the bourbon.
FYI, the café also offers a flask service, think economical bottle service. The 375ml flask of your chosen booze — Dewar’s White Label ($70), Tanqueray ($72), or Wild Turkey 101 ($65) to name a few — arrives in a brown paper bag. Glasses are optional if you’d rather trade swigs with buddies. Mixers are unlimited and fruit is included!