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Eat, Drink, and Be Sunny: L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade

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Although Angelenos woke up Sunday morning to gloomy skies, pouring rain, and chilly temps, by late morning the skies had cleared, the clouds had parted, and beams of warming sun fell over Culver City out of blue skies to help make the second annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade bright and cheery.

The food and drink fundraiser event has evolved this year to be one of the best in the city's impressive roster of similar undertakings. Showcasing not only delicious bites and drinks from L.A.'s premier chefs, mixologists, and beverage purveyors, Alex's Lemonade also brings to town the culinary and cocktail talents of visitors from other cities around the nation.

Beneath two tents, guests mingled as they chose plates of delicious savory and sweet eats, and sipped liquid offerings from dozens of assembled winemakers, bartenders, and breweries. The caliber of ingredients and the complexity of many of the dishes really elevated the occasion, and the value for guests, whose admission was in part a donation to Alex's Lemonade Stand, an organization founded by the late Alexandra Scott to help kids, just like her, who have cancer.

Though it was impossible to eat it all (and everything we ate was tasty), there were some favorite dishes that drew raves from many of the guests. We're loyal Angelenos, so our favorites happened to come from L.A. chefs, including Michael Cimarusti of Providence's stunning clam chowder and clam fritter (a preview tease for his new venture Connie and Ted's), Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal's grilled quail, and Zach Pollock and Steve Samson of Sotto's crispy pork belly porcetto with myrtle and quince mostarda.

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Not to be missed was The Hungry Cat, scooping sea urchin right out of their spiny shells alongside a stocked raw bar with other fruits of the sea. Sweet teeth were satisfied with top tastes like creamy mini-cones from Sweet Rose Creamery, gelato from the Gelato Bar, chocolates from Compartes, and a table laden with gorgeous treats from Huckleberry.

One tent featured spirits and mixologists, including Eric Alperin of the Varnish, who kept things cool with live ice cutting. Some great drinks were being mixed and poured, like the Gioia (Blue Coat Gin, Chartreuse, and Rosemary), and punches were being ladled, like the "Berlin in the 70s" (Tequila, Mezcal, lemon, orange, and cinnamon). Craftsman and Firestone were pouring some delicious craft beers, including some seasonal brews. The other tent was where guests could find dozens of winemakers ready to fill their glasses.

Because Alex's Lemonade is about helping children, there were plenty there taking part in the garden party-style festivities. Though much of the food and drink were decidedly sophisticated and grown up, having the kids, many of them cancer survivors, celebrating with their families made the suddenly sunny afternoon all the more special. As Alex's Lemonade's food events grow and expand and continues to honor brave Alex's spirit, we can't wait to welcome them back to L.A. next year again.

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