As I am a boozer on a budget, I tend to avoid hotel bars because they normally charge $15 and up for their cocktails. But I wasn’t about to turn down an invite to check out the new cocktail menu at schmancy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills. It was hosted anyway, heh. Before I go on, yes, the cocktails here range from $14 to $16 so if that’s way beyond what you’d comfortably spend on a cocktail, believe me, I understand if you don’t want to read more. To all others who are looking for a fancy but chill place to tipple, stay with me.
Now L’Ermitage is undergoing some changes where it will become the Viceroy L’Ermitage next year. Even though the walls of the lobby bar still display famous screenplays like Jaws and Good Will Hunting as art, the bar’s name has been changed from The Writers’ Lounge to just The Lounge.
And the brand-new 10-cocktail menu is a reflection of the new and the old, classic and modern concoctions. The night I went they were doing a tasting of just four of them — two Classicals and two Contemporaries — with a brief intro of each one by Josh Golden, L’Ermitage bartender who was trained by renowned barman Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey in New York.
Here are the four with some of my notes.
- Bertha: Hacienda Mexicana Blanco, agave, lemon, egg white, club soda. This vintage cocktail was actually my favorite out of the four. The tequila here is not harsh or overpowering.
- India Fizz: Broker?s Gin, Zirbenz Stone Pine Liquor, lime, blackberry, mint, club soda. Although the most photogenic of the four cocktails we had, it was a bit too light for my taste. But remember that I’m a Manhattan drinker so the hint of mint and the bit of fizz just doesn’t do it for me. No strong flavors and was just so light. Others may find it refreshing on a hot day, though.
- Moscow Mule: Russian Standard Vodka, lime, cane sugar, Reed?s ginger beer. This was everyone else’s favorite but I thought there was way more ginger beer than vodka. The way I could tell? That sugary, acidic coating it left on my tongue, like when you drink soda. But props to them serving it in its proper copper mug. The gin Moscow Mule I had the following night at 8 oz Burger Bar on Melrose Avenue was actually more to my liking, plus it was on the $4 happy hour menu!
- Tropical Elder: Pineapple-infused vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, Crème de Banana, grapefruit, grapefruit bitters. This crazy, weird, exotic cocktail was aromatically intriguing and surprisingly tasty. Although, I don’t think I could drink a whole cocktail glass of this stuff. It’s syrupy sweet with a sharp finish.
After the event, our hosts asked me if I wanted to have a full cocktail. Since I wasn’t particularly enamored by any of the four we tasted, I opted for the Tumbleweed with Sazerac 6-Year Rye, Laird?s Applejack, Amaro Ciociaro, Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Tawny Port, Xocolatl Bitters. So warm, complex, rich and aromatic. Definitely my favorite of the bunch with its chocolate finish. Even though it’s $15 I’d choose it as the drink to sip on while hanging out in the lobby lounge.
By the way, if for some reason you don’t see anything you like on the menu now, give it a month when the bar will reveal another cocktail menu, except with more of a focus on signature cocktails to supplement this one.
During my visit to this Beverly Hills hotel, I was amazed to find, not old, moneyed types or slick agent types or even recovering plastic surgery patients but rather youngish, hip, good-looking folks lounging about. And they weren’t all dressed up but casual, making it feel actually comfortable to be here. Sure, one look at the menu will probably make you feel otherwise. But if you do want to just split a plate of apps with a couple of friends and splurge on a cocktail whilst sitting on the patio near the fireplace or the waterfall, you could actually do that with nary a condescending glance your way. However they will still tell you “No pictures allowed” should you decide to whip out your camera. You know, to “protect the privacy of their guests.”
For fellow cheapskates: If you don’t want to spend any more money than you have to, the hotel offers Lobby Lounge guests free valet parking for 2 1/2 hours or there’s plenty of free parking on the street after 6!
L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
9291 Burton Way
Los Angeles, California 90210 (map)