LA Weekly – LA’s Bwest Cocktails

Singaporesling & Tapping the Admiral & Blood and Sand
Singapore Sling
If you have ever been to Singapore, undoubtedly you have made a pilgrimage to the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, marveled at the elaborate network of ceiling fans and pulleys, a steampunk wet dream, and sucked down a nasty, sweet punch called a Singapore Sling — a concoction of gin, Benedictine, cherry Heering and pineapple juice, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t shot out of a gun when Somerset Maugham used to drink them in the 1930s. The drink was, of course, a staple in 1970s singles bars, many of which also tried to mimic the décor of the Long Bar. Perhaps the most authentic version here should be served in Marina del Rey and properly savored while wearing a leisure suit. But Lukshon, Sang Yoon’s new small-plates restaurant, is at its best when re-envisioning Western versions of Asian food through classically trained Asian eyes, and the Singapore Sling here, pared to its bittersweet tropical essentials, is a revelation. Maugham, I suspect, would approve. 3239 Helms Ave., Culver City. (310) 202-6808.

Tapping the Admiral
The best way to enjoy La Descarga is probably to find a seat on the patio, buy a hand-rolled stogie if you’re so inclined, and spend an hour contemplating a snifter of the oldest, deepest rum you can afford. You’ll miss out on the rhumba band, the burlesque dancer who struts along the bar, and the yelling, close-packed crowd, but you will have experienced the rum bar at its best. Of course, you also will be missing out on the rum drinks designed by Pablo Moix, the most profound of which is Tapping the Admiral, an amber, caramel-y concoction of 13-year-old rum, cherry Heering, vermouth and a healthy dash of bitters, a drink demonstrating that old rum can be as serious as old scotch. Tapping the Admiral is named for the old legend about the famous Admiral Nelson, who died at sea and was shipped back to England embalmed in a barrel of rum, which was supposedly siphoned off sip by sip by a thirsty crew. Snopes reports that he was pickled in brandy instead of rum, and that the barrel arrived full to the brim. Still, a boy can dream. 1159 Western Ave., Hlywd. (323) 466-1324.

Ray’s Mistake
“Toro! Toro! Toro!,” chant the boys along the bar at the Tiki Ti, watching the tequila splash from a bull’s head–capped bottle held high. A dozen sets of fingers thump the bar in the rhythm of animal hooves; a dozen voices join in a final “Toro-o-o-o!” The bartender hands you a drink served in a goblet big enough to marinate a basketball. You can barely see across the room — a wrinkle in the law makes this perhaps the only bar in Los Angeles where smoking is legal, and the customers are taking full advantage — but it is difficult to order a Blood and Sand here without attracting eyeballs. You take your first sip. And despite everything you’ve heard about the Tiki Ti, about its freshly squeezed juices, complex syrups and formulae kept secret from anybody not a direct descendent of the late Ray Buhlen — who founded the bar in the early 1960s — the drink is just awful. There may be 85 drinks on the menu, available online, on a flashing screen in the corner and on a roulette wheel occasionally spun by patrons who can’t make up their minds, but what you really want is the Ray’s Mistake, a wholly proprietary blend of fruit juices, strong liquors and something with a lingering taste of almond, a cocktail as refreshing as a tickling breeze on the muggiest day of the year. Better people than you or I have tried to reverse-engineer the Ray’s Mistake, but Mike Buhlen’s hands are deft as Houdini’s. 4427 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 669-9381.

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