The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2016

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Page 46 of 100

46  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2016 NEW IN TOWN T he strip of Third Street Promenade, which runs for four blocks in Santa Monica, California, is a well-known tourist destination, full of shopping and chain restau- rants. However, a recent addition in the form of 1212, a 300-seat restaurant/bar concept from Global Dining Restaurant Group, has made the Promenade a new dining destination for tourists and locals alike. Opened only three months ago, the restau- rant has already managed to become well-known for its friendly neighborhood vibe that gladly welcomes you to watch the football game while sipping on quality cocktails from Beverage Director Fred Ghiassi. "While we have our fair share of tourists, I'd say our diners about 80 percent locals," muses Ghiassi. "They see the gorgeous open interior and want to come in, and all the locals end up coming back!" Although Ghiassi is a sommelier whose love of wine is his first passion, 1212's cocktail list—with its emphasis on sustainability and use of fresh produce from the nearby famous Santa Monica farmer's market—is a unique and intriguing force to be reckoned with. "I mainly draw on California flavors," Ghiassi elaborates, "but I also include world flavors, especially from the Mediterranean." The cocktail list is constantly changing with the seasons—and what's available at the farmer's market (Ghiassi says now that it's fall, peach Margaritas are out; pumpkin Margaritas are in). "We're lucky to be next to such a wonderful source for ingredients; it'd be criminal not to utilize them. Plus we have access to great exotic ingredients!"Ghiassi adds. Caviar limes are the garnish in Ghiassi's A Lo Cubano, a tequila cocktail with mint, lime juice, cucumbers and jalapeños, and a Schezuan Buzz flower—which numbs your mouth similarly to the effect of green peppercorns—accompanies the Electric Daisy, with lavender-infused gin, pear, raspber- ries, jalapeños, hibiscus-infused agave and Lillet Rouge. A cocktail that really shows Ghiassi's deft and unique use of ingredients is The Common Fig. Hibiki whisky is barrel-aged for one month with Coachella Valley fig stems, house-made sumac and black walnut bitters; vermouth and L'Orgeat finish off the flavorful cocktail. "I wanted to make a cocktail that recreated flavors from my childhood (in the south of France), like figs and the almond notes from the L'Orgeat," says Ghiassi. "Mixologists are the last alchemists, and cocktails like the Common Fig really let me show my artistic side." Thirsty on Third Street 1212, a new bar and restaurant in Santa Monica, CA. Ghiassi's Common Fig cock- tail, featuring Hibiki whisky infused with fig stems. 1212 Beverage Director Fred Ghiassi. 1212 BRINGS INNOVATIVE COCKTAILS TO THE SANTA MONICA PROMENADE by Jesse Hom-Dawson / photos by Marie Buck

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