In L.A. most bars update their menus seasonally. But for Macallan-intensive cocktail bar 10 Pound, located at The Montage in Beverly Hills, it took two years. And now not only does it have two new cocktails on its menu but a new chef! Yup, no longer are the bar bites retrieved from Scarpetta downstairs. Not that that was a bad thing. But with a full kitchen aft of the bar, it seemed a waste to not make use of it. And Chef Frank Macias created a luxurious small plates menu for 10 Pound’s well-heeled guests. Choose oysters (6 for $28), escargot ($34) or Jamon Iberico de Bellota ($45), to name a few. And you gotta have caviar. But it’s $500 for an ounce of Tsar Imperial Kaluga served with a silky potato and creme fraiche. If any of that is still too low ball for you, opt for the “Black Menu.”
What’s The Black Menu?
The gimmick here is that there isn’t an actual physical menu per se. Rather, the server simply asks you, “What can we make you to make your night amazing in anyway possible?” And then you will get it, “within reason,” they say. The chef does have the whole hotel to pull ingredients from and of course it depends on what’s in season. But be it a Tomahawk steak roasted in duck fat and rosemary sauce, a BBQ burger, a fresh tuna or what ever fanciness you can dream up, it’s yours. However, understandably, it may take longer than an average restaurant dinner (i.e. 30 minutes) to arrive at your table. But if you are heading over to the bar, you can even call ahead so it’ll be all set for you.
“What Chef Frank does is use his imagination and genius to make you exactly what you want,” said server/bartender Cash Black. “The Black Menu is your menu. We call it the Black Menu meaning, no one knows about it but yourself.” The idea is that Chef Frank will remember how you liked your asparagus cooked, etc. and will make it that way the next time you come in. It’s hospitality to the nth degree. And yes, that means you can now have dinner at 10 Pound, but only for up to four people since the bar is intimate.
Since there is no physical menu with a list of prices, this is really only for those who can comfortably say, “Money is no object.”
During a hosted tasting I got the chance to try the Black Menu. But since I’m not accustomed to someone telling me “As you wish” I just asked for something vegetarian. Maybe a truffle mushroom flatbread or risotto? The chef came back with a covered terrine filled with summer fettuccine with fresh corn. “pasta” made from strips of zucchini and topped with truffles and truffle oil. A decadent veggie dish! It was more than enough for two so I brought home leftovers. Yay!
Two New Cocktails
As mentioned, the cocktail menu hasn’t been updated since 10 Pound opened in 2011 and bartender Nicholas Vitulli (The Famous, No Vacancy) was in charge of it. But the powers that be felt it was time for some changes. So they took the once popular Jimmy Mac (18, Averna, Benedictine and orange bitters), a richer Manhattan, off the menu and added these two cocktails. Of course if you want the Jimmy Mac, you can still always ask for it.
Alt-0,1,6,3 ($55) is a recipe by newest 10 Pound bartender Cash, who was trained by Vitulli. “I wanted to make something just a little bit sweeter, but not too sweet. I wanted something that complemented the actual scotch. So what I did was pick a cordial I wanted to base it with, Amaretto which is way out of the realm. Because you have to have something to stand up to the scotch, I chose Amaro Nonino. Very herbal, very strong but very lovely. To make this a strong, covalent bond, I used the Jerry Thomas bitters which is my favorite bitters ever.”
Now, those who have had the 18 will find it a very wasteful thing to dump it into a cocktail. The most you’d do is add a few drops of water to it, but amaretto? Shudder! But when creating the recipe for this Cash made sure to be respect the aged scotch.
“You don’t want to ruin the 18’s taste. You just hold it with something to give it enough weight to where either the scotch is amplified or it’s kept to do its own thing. All I did was took the flavors of what were in the 18 already and tried to push it in that direction.” Well thank god for that. But even though the Alt-0,1,6,3 (the keyboard shortcut for the British pound sign) was a cocktail version of the 18 without any of the heat, I think I’ll still ask for the scotch with simply a water back, Highland spring water to be exact. But for those with the money to spend, this drink isn’t such a bad way to go about that.
Elchies Revenge ($45) was made by sommelier Mark Heftner “to show the lighter side of scotch. It has a really nice, light combination. Everyone thinks fire from scotch, they think bold,” said Cash. It’s an answer to Sam Ross’ popular Penicillin cocktail which made scotch approachable to non-scotch drinkers. And now this has replaced the old Jimmy Mac cocktail as the most popular drink at the bar. Apparently the ladies love it. It’s too light for me but I did appreciate its refreshing nature.
10 Pound Macallan Bar at the Montage Beverly Hills
225 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210 (map)