Cocktail Destination Picks From dineLA’s January 2012 Restaurant Week

— by Caroline on Crack

Julian Cox by Caroline on Crack

Julian Cox: Playa, Rivera, Sotto, Short Order, Picca

dineLA’s January 2012 Restaurant Week starts next week January 22. Have you made your reservations yet? In its 5th year, the annual food event has over 300 restaurants participating so lots of great places to choose from. And because of that it can be a bit overwhelming. But I figured I’d try and help by narrowing down your list of options to ones that are known for their cocktail programs. (Drinks aren’t included in the special dineLA menus.)

**Areal Restaurant (Santa Monica): ** Mixologist Mia Sarazen (Black Market Liquor Room and Harvard & Stone) is the mastermind behind the cocktail program here. Try her herbaceous Last Word with rye, maraschino, lemon, rosemary, basil and sage. Cocktail menu.

Bar | Kitchen (Downtown): David Kaplan and Alex Day (of Demi Monde and Death & Co.) redid this bar via their hospitality company Proprietors LLC and now it boasts one of the best cocktail programs downtown. Plus the food here is nomlicious comfort cuisine. Crack tots! Cocktail menu.

Cliff’s Edge (Silver Lake): This Eastside restaurant, famous for its gorgeous patio, has just enlisted Chef Benjamin Bailly (Fraiche Culver City). But its classic-esque cocktail menu created by bartenders Richard Swan and Dan Thomson should not be overlooked. Cocktail menu.

Comme Ca (West Hollywood): This is where a lot of LA’s top mixologists got their start — Marcos Tello, Julian Cox, Joel Black. ‘Nuff said. Check out its cocktail menu.

Drago Centro (Downtown): Mixologist Jaymee Mandeville has taken over the reins from Michael Shearin at this downtown Italian restaurant and is creating instant classics. Finish off your evening with her Rode Duivel which stars Bols Genever, S. Maria al Monte Amaro, sour cherry bitters. Cocktail menu.

Il Covo (West Hollywood): The new Italian restaurant makes its debut on dineLA this year. Great Italian food but even better Italian-inspired cocktails. Say yes to the Negroni here. Cocktail menu.

Lukshon (Culver City): Sang Yoon’s restaurant boasts some of the more exotic dishes and drinks in the dineLA roster. The adventurous should dive into the drink list which incorporates unusual ingredients like shaoxing wine, lapsang souchong black tea and ginger pear onions. Cocktail menu.

Michael’s (Santa Monica): This California cuisine restaurant just got with the farm-to-glass mixology program last year with Jason Robey (Bar |Kitchen) taking charge of its cocktail program. Cocktail menu.

Ray’s and Stark Bar (Mid-Wilshire): Sommelier/mixologist Paul Sanguinetti took over the cocktail program from Michel Dozois and likes to take his cocktail inspiration from Chef Kris Morningstar’s dishes. Cocktail menu.

Rosa Mexicano (Downtown): Don’t dismiss this cantina’s cocktail menu even if it does still have the frozen pomegranate margarita . The list was redone by cocktail masters David Kaplan and Alex Day. Cocktail menu.

Sadie (Hollywood): The new gastropub is jumping into the fire by debuting the same week as dineLA’s restaurant week. But that dinner menu looks deelish. And beverage director Giovanni Martinez’s cocktail menu looks even more delicious. Cocktail menu.

Mixologist Julian Cox everywhere in dineLA:

You can’t swing a cocktail straw without hitting this master mixologist’s creation. He’s the man behind the cocktail programs for Rivera and Playa as well as Picca and Sotto in West LA and more recently Short Order at the Farmers Market. For Playa he’s created a special dineLA cocktail and at Short Order you can add his Charlie Brown spiked custard shake to your prix-fixe lunch.