Photos: Snow Cones With Roses & Other Summer Cocktails At Melrose Umbrella Co.
When you sit at the bar at Melrose Umbrella Co., you'll be greeted by a bartender dressed in old-timey clothes—maybe even wearing a Newsies cap—who hands you a little teacup. It's filled with a sample of something off of the bar's summer cocktails menu.
Zach Patterson, one of the co-owners of the post-prohibition themed bar, tells LAist that this is their take on the French amuse-bouche type of appetizers, but they call this an "amuse-booze."
"We're doing hand-crafted cocktails," he says. "It takes a little bit longer than just pouring vodka sodas in high balls, so [I thought] 'let's give people something to sip on, whet their palate a little bit and let's give them a taste of what we do while they look at the menu and put in their orders so they're not just sitting around and waiting.'"
LAist recently visited the bar and tried out their Summer Dress drink that was presented in one of their teacups. It was a refreshing blend of ingredients that Patterson says is "super summer" and "super California." There's Grey Goose La Poire mixed in with chardonnay, white grapes, an aloe liqueur made in Cali, and oro blanco grapefruit. Prior to this summer menu, the Melrose Umbrella Co. folks weren't including vodka at all because they touted themselves as a post-prohibition bar (and during that time period, people were very anti-vodka, he says), but they decided to just go with it for this Volume II edition of their menu. (The bar separates their seasonal menus into volumes with plans to have them bound and on display so patrons and the bartenders can look back to see the old libations they created.)
We tasted the balanced and light Summer Dress and wanted a full glass of it, but decided to move on to the other drinks. There's only so much investigative drinking we can do.
The Croatian Vacation was a magenta-hued cocktail that looked like a snow cone with all of its crushed ice piled in a mound in the glass. It was topped with a tiny pink rose bud. This was on the sweeter side and has a lower alcohol content (good for the folks who aren't planning on getting wasted). It included flavors of strawberry, lime, cherry tomato, fortified wine, vodka and rose water. Patterson gave the drink its name because the recipe won him a trip to Croatia. At a cocktail competition early last year, he had to compete with other bartenders mixing drinks with a mystery ingredient. This one was cherry tomatoes.
"It's funny because it's one of my [most] favorite drinks I've ever made and I made it in five minutes with a mystery ingredient," Patterson says. "Half of the other drinks takes days to make. But with that one, I just turned my brain off and let instincts go."
They're crazy about ice over at Melrose Umbrella Co. as another of their drinks we tried—the Two-Handed Shandy—was also a crushed-ice cocktail. A whiskey drink that's made of Jameson Black Barrel, with some Duvel Triple Hop, lemon and Bitter Truth Apricot Liquer—it's a kicked-up version from your average summer shandy with a fruit-heavy flavor, and garnished with a candied orange slice in the shape of an "S."
Patterson says their ice program is "aggressive" because they have their own water filtration system and make their own ice cubes (with special spherical molds) and crushed ice in-house.
Now, the cocktails are on the pricier side and average about $14 (as with all of these fancy, hand-crafted drink establishments nowadays), so be prepared to have a lighter wallet by the time you leave. However, it's not one of those spots where you chug down a drink. It's the type of place where you chat with the local barflies, and slowly sip the cocktails as the ice melts.
Melrose Umbrella Co. is located at 7465 Melrose Ave. in the Fairfax District, (323) 951-0709