Monday, November 5, 2018

Where to Drink: L.A. Libations from Three Centuries @ Here and Now

The Drinks: 19 cocktails, four beer-and-shot pairings, and a variety of beers, ciders and wines that celebrate Los Angeles’ evolution as a city for the past three centuries

The Location: DTLA Arts District

The Vibes: Cozy, gorgeous, historic

Good for: Alone, couples, small groups

When-To-Go: Tuesdays – Saturdays, 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Sundays 2 p.m. – midnight; closed Mondays

The $$ Factor: Cocktails, $12 - $26; Bites, $5 - $16

The Names behind the scenes: Sarah Meade (Westbound); Executive Chef Geo Delgado (Gusto, E.R.B.); and Va'La Hospitality’s Aaron Melendez (Salazar, Normandie Club, The Walker Inn), Damian Diaz (Hotel Figueroa, E.R.B.), and Othon Nolasco (E.R.B.)

The 4-1-1: There’s more than the eye can see! A quaint outdoor patio complete with a fire pit can be accessed through the back doors.

Parking Situation:
Nearby street parking and free onsite parking in a lot off Third Street and S. Santa Fe Ave.

I’ll Be Back…: For the Acapulco Bleu cocktail!

It’s time to add another bar to L.A.’s vibrantly bustling bar scene!

Officially opening in mid-October 2018, Here and Now has made the former Westbound bar space its home. It’s located in One Santa Fe, a massive mixed-use complex, in an up-and-coming part of the DTLA Arts District.

A little bit about the area: right next to the One Santa Fe complex is the Metropolitan Transit Authority rail yard and across from it is an old railroad freight depot building. One Santa Fe has also been built to resemble two parallel trains, when viewed from an aerial perspective.

With the locomotive industry playing such an integral part of the landscape, it should come as no surprise then that Here and Now’s interior has been designed to resemble a train. Dark hues, rich leathers and old-fashioned knick-knacks like padded bar arm rails permeate throughout the space. Eclectic art and unique light fixtures add a mid-century modern touch. Personally, I loooved the décor — there are just so many secluded areas to scoop a seat, including booths in the back and tables-for-two paired with classic wingback chairs.

The bar program intends to show off cocktails that celebrate our beloved city’s evolution during the past three centuries. These are not your run-of-the-mill drinks, but are more like miniature works of art, featuring both simple and also very out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. Diagrams on the menu reveal what type of glass each cocktail arrives in. All in all, 19 cocktails, four beer-and-shot pairings, and a variety of beers, ciders and wines are available.

Of the five cocktails I sampled during a media preview event right before the bar’s official opening, more than anything, many reminded me of a specific season.

For instance, the Arrowhead Trail — featuring five rums, Thai Iced Tea, coconut cream and Angostura bitters — was evocative of the fall. Its thick creaminess and subtle spicy tinge made it feel like autumn in a glass.

The Acapulco Bleu — with Arette Reposado Tequila, Combier Le Bleu (allegedly the world’s first premium blue curaçao), lime and pineapple — took me back to my college days, partying in Tijuana on summer breaks. It was like the fancy, grown-up version of the tropical libation, “Adios, Motherf*cker.”

The San Gabriel is Here and Now’s version of a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. It’s packed with the Brazilian spirit cachaça, the Italian aperitivo Italicus, a California Aloe liqueur called Chareau, and lime and kiwi, which adds delightful fruity sweetness.

I had to pass on the Holy Ghost, even though it was an incredibly smooth blend of Elijah Craig Bourbon, vermouth and the rhubarb Zucco Rabarbaro. As much as I love whiskey, it was literally knocking me right out of my seat. But for anyone who enjoys sipping a nice bourbon, this one may be for you.

Last but not least was In Good Faith, reminiscent of springtime. It’s a light, refreshing mix of Grey Goose vodka, the Italian liquor Amaro Montenegro, the liqueur Allspice Dram, Fuyu persimmons, citrus and vanilla.

But the bar ain’t only slinging cocktails; it’s also offering 12 shareable “Din-Din” dishes that are truly one-of-a-kind.

The Beluga Lentil Dip is topped with pickled onions and queso fresco, accompanied by house potato chips. It’s a hearty, filling fusion of Mexican and South Asian cuisines.

The Pork Belly Fries smother an American classic — fries — with pork belly, caramelized shallots, American cheese and something that was new to me: “Boyle Heights” dressing. This whopping stack of messy, killing-my-diet goodness was nothing like I had ever tasted, but so worth every one of the 90,000 calories that are probably packed into it.

And of course, save room for dessert! Here and Now has one sweet treat: the Zeppole, a fried dough oval mound that’s reminiscent of a beignet and is accompanied by whipped ricotta, seasonal jam and fried sage.

So should you find yourself in the Arts District and looking to grab a drink — and perhaps a few bites — consider Here and Now. The cocktails are fun and impressive, the food unique and tasty, and the ambiance quite enticing.

See you there soon!

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