Villains Tavern's Fall Drink Menu: He Said, She Said Cocktail Review

— by Caroline on Crack

Dave Whitton making a cocktail by Caroline on Crack

Villains Tavern's Dave Whitton making a cocktail.

Last week, Downtown’s Villains Tavern debuted its new fall cocktail menu to some media types. And since I couldn’t go I asked my friend John of Social Domain if he could check it out for me. As I told the PR peeps for Villains, I trust John’s tastebuds. But turned out they said I could still swing by the next day to try the cocktails. A good thing since John didn’t really take any good pictures as “they are jar drinks and they didn’t show well.”

So below are mine and John’s “He Said, She Said” tasting notes on the cocktails which were created by general manager/mixmaster Dave Whitton and will be available at Villains Tavern’s Dark Carnival Halloween event tomorrow and Saturday nights!

Blackheart ($11): Goslings dark rum, Blackheart spiced rum, rum batter, hot water, heavy whipping cream

Blackheart cocktail by Caroline on Crack

Blackheart cocktail

  • John: This didn’t strike me well at first. Tasted like dishwater. Then I figured out I was drinking it wrong. It was the hot water that was throwing me off. The idea is to let it sit for a bit and settle. Then drink it like an Irish coffee, carefully getting some cream off the top with the boozy bottom such that it blends in your mouth. And I mean boozy.
  • Me: Blackheart is basically hot buttered rum, which I lurve. So potent, buttery, sinful and rich. When I had this, it was really cold outside so this worked well to warm up my bones.

Day of the Dead ($11): Mulled spice cider, vodka, Apple Jack, bitters

Day of the Dead cocktail by Caroline on Crack

Day of the Dead cocktail

  • John: Didn’t take to this one, thought it was flat, no depth of flavor that holiday drinks should have. Why the vodka? That seemed to be the problem. Dave explains that it is for people who normally like the narrow flavor profile of vodka soda. Ok. So he reworks it with bourbon and is what it is supposed to be. Now the spiced cider, apple jack and bitters have a leg to stand on.
  • Me: Apparently this is the only drink Dave created that he didn’t add sugar to and yet he didn’t have to. I liked that subtle tartness and sweetness of the apple. This spiked cider would be so comforting on a cold, rainy night. I’m usually not a fan of vodka but you really don’t taste its jagged edge in this drink, a good thing. For the recipe of this autumn drink, hit the jump.

Edgar Allan Poe ($12): Fighting Cock Bourbon, green apple juice, organic egg, sugar, grated nutmeg

Edgar Allan Poe cocktail by Caroline on Crack

Edgar Allan Poe cocktail

  • John: Green apple is the magic here. Balancing out what might appear at first to be a heavy cocktail. Usually heavy and sticky at the family Christmas party, this has nothing in common with that except the heavy spiking that is obviously present.
  • Me: Tastes like artificial sweetener on the finish even though it’s made with real sugar. It was OK. Strong whiff of nutmeg. Not sure if I’d pay $12 for it. Not my fave.

Sleepy Hollow ($9): Gin, pumpkin, citrus, organic egg whites, sugar, heavy whipping cream, chocolate chili bitters

Sleepy Hollow cocktail by Caroline on Crack

Sleepy Hollow cocktail

  • John: Here’s something that doesn’t seem right. Gin and pumpkin. I admit to not getting that much of the pumpkin, but did get a nose of sewing machine oil. This is promising. Into the drink again with great balance of citrus with the cream. The chocolate chili bitters are more apparent toward the end as you work through the cream.
  • Me: This Halloween take on the Ramos Gin Fizz wasn’t listed on the menu (they say it’s a Bartender’s Choice) but they’re serving it through November. Unlike John, I liked it just fine. It’s creamy but surprisingly light. And I like the fact that here’s this pumpkin cocktail that’s not disgustingly sweet, thick or milky.

By the way, I was skeptical about the food at this bar but was pleasantly surprised. I can’t speak to the burger or the grilled cheese sandwich but the Pharoah salad with farro is fricken tasty and so fresh, as well as satisfying. Of course we had to supplement these with the Indian peas, which are so addictively salty and crisp but not crunchy. I wish they sold these in bags so that I could enjoy them at home with a beer.

Villains Tavern
1356 Palmetto Street
Los Angeles, California 91003 (map)
(213) 613-0766
Facebook: Villains Tavern
Twitter: @VillainsTavern

Day of the Dead
By Dave Whitton

  • 1.5oz Lairds apple jack
  • 1.5 oz Russian Standard vodka
  • 6 oz of fresh stewed apple juice soaked in spices
  • 2 drops of Brazilian chocolate Chile bitters

Directions: Stew in a crockpot and ladle into a coffee glass or jar.