The Roof on Wilshire atop the eighth floor of a Mid-Wilshire hotel seems an unlikely place to spend a winter evening, but thanks to a few well-placed heaters and a new hot cocktail program, it’s pretty cozy up there. The al fresco bar/restaurant’s new drink menu, created by the Foundry on Melrose’s Mark Blackhart and the Roof’s San San Tran, consists of a variety of spiked hot chocolates, coffee and Art of Tea tea.”We’re convinced that December and January are going to be our busiest months,” Chef Eric Greenspan joked. “We wanted to highlight that it is cold and how do we celebrate that and keep it fun?”
The hot coffee and chocolate drinks which are topped with special whipped cream created by Chef Liz Garret certainly help. And Greenspan says that they’re going to tray-pass fresh baked cookies from 9:30 to close every 15 minutes. Other cozy-fying ideas in the works to help warm your bones on the roof? Designer shawl blankets that guests can borrow and tableside campfires featuring yogurt flavored marshmallows that will be accompanied with a variety of dipping sauces and a brulee torch. Chef is still working out the details but stay tuned.
Now before you dismiss the hot cocktails here as typical winter drinks with too much syrup or whipped cream, I’ll have you know I went ahead and checked it out for you and they’re not.
Candy Striper: Peppermint Schnapps, rum, chocolate, pink peppermint whipped cream. I thought for sure I wouldn’t like this one. Sounds uber sweet but it’s surprisingly not. Do not confuse it with Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha. The cocktail is made not with actual creamy hot chocolate but just chocolate syrup and hot water in addition to all the other ingredients. The idea behind this is so that customers will still have the appetite to drink more cocktails. But if you, like me, are really picky about your hot chocolate, you can request this be made with steamed milk instead of water for a richer, creamier experience.
Blossom Toddy: Bourbon, honey, orange bitters, black tea. This is a basic hot toddy which comes complete with a little jar of honey. If you’re feeling under the weather and are suffering from that bug that’s been going around, this will cure what ails you, or at the very least comfort you the only way a tasty toddy can. Its aroma is so strong, it’ll penetrate your stuffed-up nose.
Choc Full O’ Nuts: Amaretto, creme de cacao, coffee, Irish whipped cream. Warning, this delicious nutty spiked creamy coffee drink is dangerous because it doesn’t taste boozy at all. So if you have friends in your entourage who are opposed to the taste of alcohol, this would be the cocktail for them. By the way, don’t dismiss the flavored whipped cream as a thin frou-frou topping of Reddi-wip. It’s actually creamy, rich and substantial.
Earl the Pearl: Dark rum, Earl Grey vanilla cream tea. The vanilla notes of this really great tea are enhanced by the dark rum. This is actually my favorite out of all the drinks on the Roof. Every friend I’ve introduced it to has loved it as well. Bonus is that it comes with a mini teapot so even when you drink all the booze in that first glass, afterward you end up with leftovers of a nommy cup of tea.
Porcel: Tequila, hot cocoa, chili spiced whipped cream. Chef Greenspan said this drink is named after some “big fat guy” who’s always surrounded by hot bikini’d girls on a late night Mexican TV show called “A La Cama Con Porcel” (“Going to bed with Porcell). The spicy whipped cream adds a nice unexpected finish to this drink which I certainly wouldn’t mind capping my night with.
By the way, with regard to the food, my absolute favorite was the Nori Nachos, a fresh and light alternative to any nachos dish you ever encountered, what with its crispy rice crackers in lieu of tortilla chips topped with tartare, spicy salmon roe and sauce. And you can’t hit up a Greenspan restaurant without getting his grilled cheese sandwich. The Wilshire Grilled Cheese is made with Gruyere, date marmalade and roasted peppers.
Prices here aren’t crazy expensive, ranging from $8 curry-apple risotto balls to the $12 Wilshire Burger and $24 seared tuna a la carte. But there’s definitely something for everyone. I brought my bf who is a picky and healthy eater and he loved the mushroom risotto while blogger friend H.C.of LA/OC Foodventures indulged in the baked potato fries.
The only thing I wasn’t too crazy about, though, were the desserts. The market fruit cobbler and apple-cinnamon bread pudding just weren’t as satisfying or flavorful as their names had lead me to believe. A bit disappointing, especially after everything else was exceptional. Oh well.
Surprisingly despite its flamboyant celebrity chef and its catbird seat boasting a unique perspective of Downtown, Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the Roof still feels like a secret spot. But I’m relishing that quiet as I’m sure it won’t last too long. Right now I can just go up to the roof and grab a seat at the bar, a cabana, or one down by the firepit. Bonus is that the bar completes the very short string of great cocktail bars on Wilshire as it’s bookended by Red Medicine and the Stark Bar at LACMA!
More photos after the jump…