The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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MIXOLOGY The Conductor and the W ith a name that sounds more like the best college class ever than a bar, Mixology Joe Brooke makes the Maestro's Special Fizz, but this one ought to be called "Special-er." Made with a batch of Salvatore Calabrese's very own limoncello, it's truly awesome. 101, a lovely, open-air Los Angeles resto-bar perched atop Planet Dailies at The Original Farmers Market, is Joe Brooke's new playground. The charm- ing and wry barman has been a long- time darling of the Los Angeles cocktail set, and in his new role as Mixology 101 Cocktail Conductor, Brooke has hit his stride. Here, Brooke executes the vision of legendary bartender Salvatore Calabrese, relying on his unique blend of wit and wisdom to bring Calabrese's cocktail philosophy to life for the uninitiated and the expert alike. The menu, designed by Calabrese, manages to balance playful innova- tion with classic cocktology: This is market fresh mixology, for certain, but most important, says Brooke, this is mixology with a purpose. "Studying under Salvatore was like living in The Matrix," explains Brooke, "because, for the fi rst time in my life, it really felt like my eyes were open. He showed me how everything you do in a cocktail, from start to fi nish, has a purpose." To prove his point, Brooke whips up a Spicy Fifty, a sweet/spicy concoction that originated at Calabrese's famed London bar, FIFTY. As I take my fi rst sip, I'm hit by a pleasant sweetness that gives way to an intriguing swirl of fresh, juicy acidity, which transforms into a dry, lingering heat. "Salvatore likens this cocktail to the journey of life," says Brooke. "In hitting three points on your palate, it recreates moments of life, from the lovely sweetness on the tip of your tongue that reminds us of our youth, to the complexities of middle age, and on to 90 / the tasting panel / june 2012 L.A. BARMAN JOE BROOKE MIXES WITH A PURPOSE story and photos by Rachel Burkons the twilight of your life that lingers and tapers off slowly." It's a lovely story befi tting a killer quaff, so as Brooke prepares the next purpose-driven cocktail for me, I brace myself for another journey in a glass. With one sip of the Maestro's Special Fizz, I'm whisked away to the Amalfi Coast, fl oating on a cloud of bubbles and sweet lemon tartness. I sigh contentedly, and Brooke gives me a knowing grin. "It's like drinking a back rub," he says, apt as ever. Brooke sud- denly remembers he has one more of Salvatore's tricks up his sleeve to show off, and springs into action. "Do you like Martinis?" he asks, quickly getting to work on the most classic Simple, yet top-secret, this Tanqueray Martini is made using Salvatore Calabrese's secret weapon. of classic cocktails, a London dry gin Martini. Moments later, I'm drinking the best Martini of my life: Surprising viscosity turns Tanquerary into liquid heat, gliding across my tongue with effortless smoothness. No ordinary Joe himself, Brooke knows this is no ordinary Martini. "This," he says, holding up a small atomizer, "is Salvatore's secret ingredient." The Maestro may have passed along his secret to the Cocktail Conductor, but this writer's in no position to share—you'll just have to enroll in Mixology 101's Martini course yourself. Maestro

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