The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2013

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Page 38 of 152

ON-PREMISE PATTER Penning AT ink. IN LOS ANGELES, THE BEVERAGE MENU IS MORE THAN JUST BLACK WORDS ON WHITE PAPER an Experience by Breanne DeMore / photos by Rob Brown L ocated on the elegant Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, ink. is a Michael Voltaggio creation for Angelenos. "Our restaurant is very unique," begins Michael Ploetz, Director of Operations at ink., named for Chef Voltaggio's well-publicized tattoos. "We are a modern, fine dining Los Angeles restaurant. It's really suited for Los Angeles and what our patrons are looking for and expect from a restaurant here." The place is cool and casual; the walls are a deep gray and there's not a white tablecloth in sight—but casual atmosphere doesn't mean the guests should expect anything less than amazing from either the food or beverage program. A decision was made a while ago that ink. wouldn't simply be about a meal. You see, it isn't just about food and something to wash it down with, Ploetz and his staff work tirelessly to ensure the meal is about enjoying the whole dining experience. "People are no longer just looking for a wine to be consumed with dinner, but for a wine that elevates the food and food that elevates the wine. That's the experience we want for our customers," explains Ploetz. It is Ploetz's belief that a wonderful experience can be found in trying new things. "I love opening our guests' minds up to new possibilities," he explains. "For instance, we have included many natural winemakers on our menu. Michael and I were enamored by the stories and movement Michael Ploetz, Director of Operations behind these wines and think they have a at ink., says his waitstaff's job is to work lot to offer, especially gearing them toward as tour guides "They guide the guests food pairing. They represent more than through the dining experience and explain just the varietal, much like ink. represents the menu with confidence and from a more than just a meal. Our ultimate goal is place of knowledge and understanding." to surprise and delight our customers." At the Bar An import from the U.K., Gabriella Mlynarczyk started as a bar back at 17. "I was quite shy and thought it was a great way for me to put myself out there. Then I got hooked on the energy and fed off of it." That experience eventually led to Mlynarczyk becoming an incredible mixologist. "I try to be creative and bring ingredients from the kitchen into the cocktail to complement the food. I love using culinary processes and products to develop elements for drinks, such as our brown butter banana rum for our Mai Tai." In a break from tradition, ink. doesn't name its cocktails; instead, ingredients are listed on the drinks menu. This one, perfect for the winter season, is characteristically sophisticated. The ever endearing, Gabriella Mlynarczyk, Lead Bartender at ink., presents her inventive and impeccable cocktail. ◗ 2 oz. vodka ◗ 1½ oz. apple cider ◗ 1 oz. buttermilk ◗ ¾ oz. kümmel spice syrup ◗ ½ oz. madeira ◗ 2 dashes apple bitters ◗ Finish with pumpkin pie spice 38  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2013 TP1213_034-63.indd 38 11/23/13 8:26 PM

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