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We Love A Good Brunch In LA. How About Food That's Already A Cocktail?

An egg sandwich with a thick cut bacon, topped with veggies and an olive.
The boozy Bloody Mary sandwich at Mohawk Bend.
(Gab Chabran
/
for LAist)
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Here in Los Angeles, brunch is taken very seriously.

The restaurant-going experience moves at its own pace, a perfect vehicle to imbibe decadent behaviors. It’s where a cup of coffee can easily get switched out for a glass of rosé, Bloody Mary, or any other brunch cocktail at the slightest whim.

Brunch in L.A. doesn't mess around with iconic dishes. From the French omelette at Petite Trois made with Boursin pepper cheese and European butter to the stately dining rooms in the San Gabriel Valley, where large parties feast on piles of dim sum, such as shumai sprinkled with bits of roe to the crispiest of turnips cakes.

Whatever your method of brunch, we know this is true: it's best as a communal effort, where one can share forkfuls of croque madame and seasonal fruit platters with the homies.

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More recently brunching felt like a distant memory as the pandemic put a hiatus on all things communal. Many made do with socially distanced options like breakfast burgers to-go and eating in greenhouses al fresco. Flash forward to the present day, and things are starting to resemble something close to the before times.

At Mohawk Bend in Echo Park the return to brunch scene comes with a new menu of “edible cocktails.”

Yes, you read that right.

The menu features three breakfast sandwiches, all infused with a regular cocktail's worth of booze. Perfectly shareable for the masses.

Mohawk Bend is located in a converted building that once housed the Ramona Theatre — a former silent movie theater. It's now in its 10th year and is known for continuously innovating. A prime example is their buffalo cauliflower, a dish from the mind of owner Tony Yanow that's now seen as standard pub fare at national chains.

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The idea behind the boozy brunch was to create something playful and fun that wasn’t just a gimmick. It took months of planning to check all the marks to create a culinary experience and make the proper nods to bar culture and brunch cocktails.

What Are The Edible Cocktails?

The expanded menu offerings feature three distinctive sandwiches in that same spirit, all channeling classic cocktail beverages. It starts with the Bloody Mary sandwich, which features bacon and fried egg, slathered with a spread made from spicy tomato mixture gushing with acidity and a dollop of fresh horseradish sauce aioli, piled on a small bed of organic celery infused in vodka for 24 hours, and placed in the middle of a light and airy vegan English muffin from Röckenwagner Bakery. Upon the first bite, the taste of alcohol does remain apparent and pairs well with the rest of the sandwich's contents.

If you're seeking something sweet and savory, opt for the Rummy McGriddle. With its bun component, the pancake sandwich, injected with Cutwater spiced rum, contains a soft fried egg and breakfast sausage, drizzled with rum maple syrup. The sweet-spicy bite is satisfying as each flavor melds into each other harmoniously.

A jelly sandwich with almond butter, bourdon and raspberries on a white plate.
The almond butter, bourbon, and jelly sandwich at Mohawk Bend.
(Gab Chabran
/
for LAist)
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Alternatively, for those looking for something more attuned to a simple type of pleasure, the Almond Butter, Bourbon, and Jelly sandwich features whipped almond butter emulsified with Four Roses bourbon and jelly made of blackberry and fig preserves on a slice of crispy toasted sourdough bread. The gooey sandwich reflects the nostalgia of the peanut and jelly toasts consumed ad nauseam in front of Saturday morning cartoon blocks. This time, providing a more sophisticated take is best when cut into fours and shared with the rest of your party.

How The Idea Came To Be

Head Chef Tim Balen had previous stints at Superba in Venice and Michael’s restaurant group in his native Long Beach before coming to Mohawk Bend. He describes coming up with the idea during a brainstorm session with owner Tony Yanow that came out of pandemic lockdown boredom. It feels safer now for some people to venture out and pick up where they left off with visiting a public place for social purposes. The mask mandate for indoors is relaxing as we reach what feels like a step closer to an endemic way of living.

“People have been cooped up, and we wanted to come up with something that is fun and irreverent yet celebratory,” said Balen of the thinking behind the brunch cocktail sandwich concoctions. Balen and the rest of the team at Mohawk Bend wanted to convey a thoughtfulness when it came to the execution of each dish. They didn’t want to dump a shot of hooch onto a dish and call it a day; refinement was vital in helping to elevate each dish.

“Like we try to do our other menu items here, we try to keep it thoughtful, not silly, but palatable-flavors that work,” Balen says. Testing the waters of these menu items is hopefully only the beginning.

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The team at MB hopes to keep building out the concept further in hopes it catches on. Listening to Balen explain his process allows one to consider that brunch is full of infinite possibilities, especially in Los Angeles.

The idea of edible cocktails is a fun and intriguing concept that will undoubtedly draw the interest across the board from those who are looking for new and fun take as part of their brunch experience. Best if shared with a friend or loved one that maybe you haven't seen in a while. It's an excellent way to share in an encounter that is a well-executed dish and unique to Los Angeles.

Despite any preconceived notions, one has to begin with and celebrate going out and doing something fun. We’ve earned it.

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