Nowadays, everyone’s coming up with seasonal cocktail menus. Basically using it as a platform for showcasing the freshest ingredients of the season. But leave it to the Raymond‘s 1886 bar team, headed by barman Garrett Mckechnie, to create a summer cocktail menu that not only features California strawberries and tropical fruit but that actually evokes all your favorite summer memories. Drinking through the menu you’ll feel like Violet Beauregarde. “Heyy, I can taste backyard barbecues, tropical white-sand beaches and that one summer when all I ate were strawberry-and-cream popsicles!”
I ran through most of the menu (hosted) this weekend — but missed out on the new carbonated cocktail, Southern Belle Whistle, and the barrel-aged Vintage Caprice Sell Out — and found them all to be exceptional. No real misses. And the best part is that there’s something for everyone here. Whether you’re looking for a light and refreshing tipple like the Bols Genever Basil Collins or a potent and aromatic cocktail like the Dutch Kills.
For me, the cocktail I couldn’t get enough of was the creamy, pop shot Strawberry Paleta. But the cocktail I wish I could have stuck around to finish was the Tranquilizer. Huge, potent and oh-so drinkable, it was too dangerous to finish after already having sipped on 10 cocktails. I recommend starting your night with it and going from there, gauging if you can handle another.
La Brigada: Mezcal, homemade agave liqueur, fresh pineapple, lime served over crushed ice with frozen coconut water and chicharron garnish. This savory cocktail created by bartender Lacey Murillo after her family trip to La Paz is meant to evoke Baja but I get backyard barbecues. A whiff of the smokey scent of grilled meat. It’s like drinking a smokey margarita. Do yourself a favor and eat the chicharron, savor and then take a sip of the cocktail for a truly decadent experience.
Pimms #6: Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, Summer Pimms recipe topped with homemade sparkling lemonade.
Summer Shrub Fizz: _Demerara Rum, London Dry Gin, organic egg whites, homemade strawberry shrub, Meyer lemon essence. Created by Peter Lloyd Jones and Garrett to evoke sitting under the old Raymond hotel’s California oak.
Kai Lani: A Tiki cocktail made with aged rum, overproof Jamaican rum, peach liqueur, fresh lemon juice and Garrett McKenie’s spice mix #1.
Dutch Kills: Barrel-Aged Bols Genever, Italian Vermouth, bitters, apricot liqueur. For Eastsiders who find the Eveleigh on Sunset a long way to go, Eveleigh bartender Dave Kupchinsky created this tasty stirred cocktail.
Xocolate: Reposado tequila, Italian Vermouth, creme de cacao, Mexican mole bitters. The debut cocktail of new 1886 bartender Eder Campos.
BBC: Bols Genever Basil Collins by 1886 godfather and Bols Genever ambassador Marcos Tello.
After Hours: Spiced rum swizzler with passionfruit, pineapple, bitters and topped with hazelnut porter created by Lacey and beer cocktail connoisseur Brady Weise.
Strawberry Paleta: California strawberries, cream and rum chilled using liquid nitrogen.
Rosebud: _Hibiscus liqueur, Benedictine, lime juice, Reposado tequila, Fever Tree Lite Tonic. A pink cocktail by Brady.
Tranquilizer: _Overproof rum, Batavia Arrack, coconut and pineapple by Garrett.
1886 Bar at The Raymond
1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, California 91105 (map)