Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where to Drink: Brand New Summer Cocktails @ Vū Restaurant

 A couple months ago, I featured Marina del Rey’s Vū Restaurant for its distinctive culinary twist on traditional dishes. After all, it’s not everywhere  you can order Chicken-Fried Watermelon or Calamari with Pink Lemonade Sauce. But even as I munched on bite-sized pork belly bits topped with root beer Jell-O on my last trip there in the spring, my mind kept wandering and getting sidetracked:

The cocktails I would sip between bites kept distracting me.

If Vū’s food is out of this world, then its cocktails are out of this universe. Seriously. Sure, there were the super sweet ones, like the mojitos bursting with ounces of freshly muddled fruits (pictured above), but then there were also the blatantly strong ones, like the Del Rey Royale, which I couldn't even swallow at first. It was so potent that I could literally feel the hairs sprouting on my chest with each sip.

Unfortunately, I recently learned that the bartenders had retired some of the cocktails I had cherished. So now what would I be forced to drink with my Calamari – water? How dreadful to consider.

Well. It turns out that the bartenders have actually been busily assembling a new summer cocktail menu, so I returned to Vū this week to preview a few of the drinks (pictured below), before the menu had even been printed and distributed to the public.

What I found was that these new libations were lighter, fruitier and airier than some of the previous ones I had tested out. Yet just like my old favorites, these new drinks had generous pours and purely creative combinations of ingredients and spirits.

So  here’s a sneak peak at the favorite ones I tried and would highly recommend. Let me know what you order the next time you go!

On the sweeter side – The Cognac West (pictured below): Upon hearing the name alone, I knew this drink would be a winner! It’s a frothy blend of Courvoisier Cognac, blackberries, raspberries and freshly squeezed lemon juice, topped with sparkling wine and garnished with an orange rind. Don't let the martini glass fool you; it's a lot more complex than your standard martini. The thickness of the muddled berries paired with sparkling wine adds an interesting textural depth with multiple layers.

On the stronger side – The New Fashioned (pictured below): Modeled after the timeless Old Fashioned, this one, in my opinion, pretty much tastes like straight bourbon with a few subtle hints of St. Germaine liqueur and muddled oranges. After one of these, you might be done for the night (in a good way). One of the new twists on this old recipe includes inhaling the aroma of mint floating on top of the ice with each sip that you take, which definitely kicks the whole drinking experience up a notch. So don’t absentmindedly swish or jam that mint leaf into your glass when you order this; instead, let it gently glide atop and makes sure that you get a good whiff of it with each sip.

On the wild side – The Cool Burn (pictured below): Remember those Mexican chili candies you could buy from the ice cream trucks cruising in the (neighbor)hood? Well this cocktail is the grown up version of those candies. Smooth Belvedere vodka and mashed up kiwi are juxtaposed to fiery jalapenos, chili powder and freshly squeezed lime juice. It definitely has a bite to it, but it’s not overbearingly spicy to the point where you’re frantically reaching for gulps of water. It’s definitely a unique combination, and not your standard cocktail.

On your side (pictured below): You know how you go to some bars and ask for a recommendation and they kind of roll  their eyes like you’re wasting their time? Well at Vū, the bartenders actually like the challenge of conjuring up cocktails based on your personality. They proudly uphold that the best kind of cocktail they can make is a personalized request. Tell them what liquors and flavors you like, and they’ll build a customized cocktail right on the spot. Bartender Rob made me this fabulous Patron tequila/agave/blood orange concoction, and it was soooo my style.

I also tried the Pineapple Expressions, the Cucumber Mojicky and the signature Vū Bloody Mary (pictured all below). They were each special in their own right, but aforementioned four drinks really stood out to me the most. Try them all on the menu if you can get around to it, and of course, let me know what you think. See you there soon!


Miss Wilson’s Tips (so you know “What’s up” when you go):
- I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; the best seat in the restaurant is right on its outdoor patio next to a fire pit. You’ll get views of the marina and of Mother’s Beach, plus a nice ocean breeze.
- Word on the street is that Rob and Luke are the bartenders who will hook your drinks up.
- Vū isn’t in a standalone building; it’s actually nestled in the Jamaica Bay Inn hotel. 
- Valet and self parking are available for FREE.

For more information
Vū Restaurant
14160 Palawan Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

** A big SHOUT OUT to Photographer Jeremy Lee for taking some amazing photos on my last trip here!**
Find him at:

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