Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Where to Drink: The Bar Experience @ Tipple & Brine (Part 2 of 2)

The Drinks: Craft cocktails and California draft beers

The Location: The Valley (Sherman Oaks)

The Vibes: Barn Chic

Good for: Dates, groups, solo

When-To-Go: Daily, beginning at 5 p.m.

The $ Factor: 
$11 for cocktails; $6-$11 for draft beers

The Names behind the scenes: Owner Richard DiSisto (Vantage Restaurant Group); Mixologist Daniel Zacharczuk (The Varnish, Honeycut)

The 4-1-1: What exactly is a tipple? Great question. As a noun, it’s an alcoholic beverage. As a verb, it’s to drink alcohol, especially habitually.

I’ll Be Back…: To order the Faster, Young Fruit!

A couple of weeks ago, 

Now, I want to share more about Tipple & Brine’s intriguing bar scene, since it's pretty awesome enough to have its own dedicated post.

What initially caught my attention about the bar scene at Tipple & Brine was how much of a neighborhood vibe it had. Owner Richard DiSisto—who built the entire restaurant with his own bare hands using refurbished and recycled materials—has done an excellent job at creating a warm, earthy and welcoming environment, reminiscent of the corner bars and taverns of New England.

Perched upon my stool and sipping my cocktails, there was something extremely comforting about being at Tipple & Brine's bar. Perhaps it was being enwrapped by the natural wood surrounding me, or gazing at the many curiosities scattered throughout—from the overturned wooden apple baskets and antique metal chicken feeders that now serve as lighting fixtures, to the chicken coops stacked above the main bar. Or perhaps, it had to do with the jovial attitude of our bartender Moses, who kept up pleasant conversation throughout the entire night, even while serving infinite rounds of cocktails to 200+ thirsty guests.

Yet as welcoming as any bar may be, at the end of the day, we don’t go to bars merely to sit somewhere nice; we go to sip something nice.

At the Opening Party, I sampled four out of seven of Tipple & Brine’s cocktails, all of which were made very well. Even those cocktails that I didn’t necessarily like, I would say it wasn’t because of a lack of quality ingredients or technique; it was more because of personal preferences. In fact, I would confidently say that it’s quite apparent that a lot of thought and effort has been put into the genesis of each cocktail, whether it be from blending completely opposite flavors to create new ones, to the varied types of cocktails that are available, from light and airy to dense and strong.

The Ford Cocktail (pictured below) is a bold blend of gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine and bitters, topped with an orange twist. I could barely sip it without a fiery feeling starting to crawl down my esophagus. Perhaps a true gin aficionado could take it to the head and throw a few of these back, but for the rest of us, it’s definitely a drink to be sipped.

The Scot Free (pictured below) is another potent concoction, with scotch, maraschino liqueur, bitters and lemon twists. Slightly easier to drink than the aforementioned Ford Cocktail, it still is on the stronger side, but is also faintly sweet.

The Mexican Firing Squad (pictured below) is an delightfully different blend of tequila and house-made grenadine with bitters and lime. It’s mostly sweet, with subtle hints of tequila. Careful - this one can creep up on you.

Saving the best for last, my favorite was the Faster Young Fruit, pictured below. It’s a light, refreshing blend of potato vodka, vermouth, soda and lemon, garnished by a grapefruit twist. It felt like the perfect summer’s evening cocktail.

The three that I didn’t try were the Irish Honey Fix made with Irish Whiskey, the Il de France made with cognac and champagne, and the Nevada, made with white rum. If you ever order any of these, do let me know what you think. Aside from signature cocktails, Tipple & Brine also mainly serves draft beers that originate in California. Seven out of 11 the bar's beers come from our lovely state and several even hail from right here in the Greater L.A. area: the Pilsner Angles City “Gold Line” from downtown, the Lager Craftsman “1903” from Pasadena and the Kolsch Golden Road Brewing “Cabrillo” from Los Angeles.

So while I most definitely suggest checking out Tipple & Brine for its oysters and other menu options, like those amazing Brussels Sprouts, I also say don’t hesitate to stop here solely for the cocktails. It has a nice ambiance to indulge in a few well-made ones, all while in a very welcoming ambiance. See you there soon!

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