Bar Keeper Celebrates 3rd Anniversary
Bar Keeper, Silverlake’s little bartending Mecca, celebrated its third year this past Friday. Known for vintage glassware, esoteric barware, absinthe paraphernalia, and a heady collection of cocktail books, Bar Keeper has been supporting a growing Los Angeles cocktail renaissance. With a keen eye and a penchant for detail, Joe Keeper (proprietor) has built a solid collection of things you want.
Like this item to the left. I mean, who doesn’t want an airline style beverage cart bar that rolls and even has a brake like the original? I certainly do. Could you imagine that thing at one of your parties? You could roll it down the hall and make someone an Old Fashioned right there on the spot. Talk about service. Or how about rolling it into the bedroom to wake your significant other up with a delicious Bellini in bed, fresh white peach puree and all? The possibilities truly are endless.
To commemorate the anniversary, Joe Keeper threw a fantastic little soiree at his store. On hand were bartender Rhachel Shaw of Malo and hired gun Scott Campbell (former San Fran bartender now retired) to mix a couple of cocktails specially selected by Joe.
Scott manned his bar shaking up a wonderful concoction called the Mujer Verde. A feature drink of the famed San Francisco bar Absinthe, the Mujer Verde was at once a bracing and refreshing combination of Hendricks Gin, yellow and green Chartreuse, lime juice and simple syrup. It was a fantastic marriage of the soft botanicals within Hendricks and the alpine spices of Chartreuse.
1oz. Hendricks Gin
1/2oz. Green Chartreuse
1/4oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1/4oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/4oz. Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients into shaker with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy.
Over on Rhachel’s side, she was having fun with some of Joe’s homemade Swedish Punsch, a potent elixir combining the Dutch sugar cane distillate Batvia-Arrack Van Oosten, cardamom, lemon juice, simple syrup and grated nutmeg. Here’s the recipe for the resulting cocktail as well as the Swedish Punsch.
1oz. Swedish Punsch
1/2oz. Sloe Gin
1/4oz. Martin Millers Gin (original recipe called for 3/4oz. Sloe Gin and no regular Gin, but was modified just a touch, for balance)
3/4oz. Lime Juice
Combine all ingredients in shaker, shake vigorously, strain and serve.
Homemade Swedish Punsch – Courtesy of Imbibe Magazine and excecuted by Joe Keeper
9oz. Simple Syrup
6oz. Batvia-Arrack Van Oosten
3oz. Lemon Juice
1/2tspn Grated Nutmeg
10 Cardamom pods
Start by removing seeds from cardamom pods and discard pods. Crush seeds in mortar and pestle. Next add all ingredients to a glass mason jar and refrigerate for 24 hours.
What I loved about both of these cocktails was their simplicity, especially the Mujer Verde. I love a complex cocktail, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it is nice to go back to the basics with no more than 4 to 5 ingredients. The most complex flavor of the night had to be the Punsch. It was extremely herbal, with the cardamom beaming its way right through, which made it absolutely delicious when mixed with the two gins and lime juice. Somewhat of an acquired taste I would say. All in all, very well played by our two bartenders that evening. Well done y’all.
In addition to partying, a little shopping and bitters tasting were in order. Joe has the most extensive collection of bitters that I have ever seen. Period. Not only that, he has a bar in which you can taste every single one of them. When it comes to bitters, this guy knows his stuff. He’s got everything from your traditional Angostura and Peychauds to the rarely seen in the wild German brand, The Bitter Truth. Joe has been importing these, and until now have been next to impossible to find. I highly recommend them. I plan on doing a bitters tasting post some time in the near future, so I’ll have more of a full rundown then. Some highlights included The Bitter Truth’s Celery Bitters, which at first, I was pretty sure the 2 drops (only 2 drops!) I tasted had been too much. I wasn’t expecting such power and spice. The kick alone made me envision beautiful brunches filled with mouth watering Gin Mary’s accented with this wonderful yet peculiar bitters. Then came Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters also by The Bitter Truth. Rumored to have snake oil in it (that’s right y’all, snake oil) I immediately recognized the Chinese 5-spice characteristics, and at once declared it the most complex and riveting bottle of bitters I had come across. I’m pretty sure that Professor Jerry is somewhere smiling.
If you are reading this post and you live in LA and haven’t been by yet, what on earth are you waiting for?! Get thee to Bar Keeper! If you do live in LA and you’ve been there before, go back! He’s always switching it up so you never know what you might find. In from out of town? By all means pay Joe a visit, he might even pour you something fun. Then you can march your butt right over to the bitters bar and spike it with one of the many testers he’s got. All in all, this a great place for everybody, from the amateur enthusiast to the professional bartender. Bar Keeper has got you covered. As long as this shop is around, I’ll keep making room for more glassware.