by Conor Friedersdorf
One of my favorite places to get a cocktail in LA is The Tasting Kitchen, where the whole bartending staff and especially Justin manage to make drink mixing into high art. Before ordering, there's a conversation about what exactly I tend to like, my mood that evening, and the homemade syrups and falernums they've recently concoted. Then they surprise me with some twist I've never had before. And so long as things aren't exceptionally busy, they're happy to explain the ingredients, how the drink is prepared, and why it tastes the way it does. If you're fascinated by the renaissance of the American cocktail, as I am, it's worth the premium you pay for a drink. And often you only need one.
The only downside to The Tasting Kitchen is its popularity. Its gotten a lot of attention lately in the national press, hence recent increases in price it's the sort of place where I can afford to eat dinner once in a great while on a special occasion, but that isn't a viable food option if I just want a drink on a Thursday night. Of course, when you've finished your workday, ordered a cocktail, and chatted for an hour with your girlfriend and your favorite bartender, hunger happens. And lucky for me, the place is located on Abbot Kinney, which has recently become food truck central. Instead of paying $12 for some admittedly delicious wings, I can walk outside, survey the evening's offerings from three or four food trucks, and get twice as much food for $6 from an aspiring restranteur. And the fare is impressive: even Jonathan Gold, LA's answer to Frank Bruni, is on board.