Meet the Willy Wonka of Whiskey and Rum

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READ IT AT LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE (in print too)

In my summer search for the best distillery tour in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon the truly mind-boggling experience that is Lost Spirits, where smoke and mirrors are bush league, the mere jump-off point for an entire fantasy land crammed into an Arts District warehouse, complete with animatronic dinosaurs and sphinx-capped riverboats (also, a river). The process behind the booze is just as bizarre, not only in that many of the theme park elements are part of said process, but because master distiller Bryan Davis uses light to “age” his rums and whiskeys 20-some years in just a few days. If that doesn’t make sense you can try reading the article (which also appears in Los Angeles Magazine‘s October print issue), but no promises. You might just have to put on a pith helmet and sip some overproof juice with Davis down at his working wonderland. Also, the print sidebar about three more must-own local bottles got its own URL.

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Three Must-Own Bottles That Are Made in L.A.

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READ IT AT LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE (in print too)

This is the mere sidebar to a bigger October print story about the Wonka-esque whiskey factory that is Lost Spirits DTLA, but the boozes deserve their due. I was given a lovely personal tour of Pasadena’s Stark Spirits by the even lovelier Karen and Greg Stark themselves. Their booze, loveliest of all, was so damned good I blew most of my pay stocking my home bar. (May I also recommend their Brennivín-esque aquavit, California Silver Rum, and peated single-malt? No? Well, I already did. Sorry.) Paul Ryan, no relation, also walked me through the Loft & Bear loft, where there was a bear-sized dog, and Max at The Spirit Guild gave me tastes of each isolated botanical from their Astral Gin in the form of pulls from jugs of sage-, pistachio-, peppercorn-, etc.-infused vodkas. The only reason I didn’t include Greenbar’s Grand Poppy amaro is this: I wrote about it in the magazine’s Best of L.A. issue. Also, try their City Bright Gin. It’s dope.

BEST OF LOS ANGELES 2017: MEZCALERIAS AND MORE

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READ IT AT LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE (in print too)

Ready your appetite, your liver, and your sense of adventure — it’s that time of year again: Los Angeles Magazine’s BEST OF LOS ANGELES. I had a huge haul this year, play-testing (for your benefit, not mine, nope, didn’t enjoy this at all, haha riiiiiight) three finalists in each of 13 categories, which for convenience’s sake I’ll split here into two super-categories. In the WHAT TO EAT zone (page one of the long list on the mag site), I crowned winners in the domains of: Fancy Grilled Cheese (No. 4), Coffee Concoction (No. 5), Mezcaleria (No. 6), Barcade (No. 13), Cemita (No. 18), Rare Liquor Retailer (No. 19), and Cheese Appreciation Class (No. 26). In the WHAT TO DO space (page two), you’ll find: True Crime Tours (No. 40), L.A. River Kayak Tour (No. 48), Laser Tag for Adults (No. 50), Picnic on Mars (No. 54), Hip Bowling Alley (No. 55), and Distillery Tour (No. 57). Whew. And the latter should include a quick Q&A in print. Now go plan your entire summer.

Juicy J Is Cooking with Weed (and Chris Sayegh)

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READ IT AT BILLBOARD (in print too)

Memphis rap OG Juicy J gets a lesson in cannabis cuisine from fine dining stoner Chris Sayegh, aka The Herbal Chef (“THC,” of course). I sat in on the entire thing, and while I interviewed the two of them afterward, you really just want to read this for the play-by-play: “Juicy J holds a single flower with a pair of extra-long tweezers cautiously, as if the tiny bloom is a hunk of uranium. His hand seems to lilt ever so subtly, pulled to the right by three heavily studded gold rings. But the rapper gets it together and, at the last second, sticks the landing…” Toldja.

The Golden Age of Robot Pottery

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READ IT AT SLATE

Part two in this Slate X Jaguar collabo finds me delving deep into the world of 3D printing to learn about the digital future of an ancient, haptic art—pottery. I spoke to a series of expert practitioners in the U.K. (where computer-assisted ceramix have been embraced in both academic and fine art circles) and here in the U.S. (where the practice of clay fabrication is just, um, taking shape). I loved speaking to these folks, so please be sure to check out their work: Kate Blacklock, Chris Gustin, Michael Eden, Jonathan Keep, and Ronald and Virginia Rael.

The Beak-to-Claw Movement Takes Flight

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READ IT AT SLATE

Call it beak-to-claw, nü-poultry, or alt-bird for all I care, just don’t call me late to dinner. Hardy har har. Bad jokes aside, I interviewed a handful of chefs known for doing very good things with fowl—either reinventing the role of the chicken in fine dining and fast-casual, introducing birds of a different feather (sorry, I can’t stop) to their well-curated cuisine. The goal, specifically, was to trace this trend from its U.K. roots to its (in-progress) U.S. expansion as part of a three-part series very noticeably underwritten by Jaguar. Sadly, I got no cars or meals out of the gig. :|

Best of Los Angeles 2016: Poke Edition

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READ IT AT LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE (in print too)

It’s the year of the tuna — ahi, specifically, and in poke form (that’s “poh-kay”) in case you haven’t noticed, which, if you live in Los Angeles, would require never leaving your home or reading about food trends on the internet. So yours truly mustered up the nerve to eat five bowls of delicious fish and various thrilling toppings at five different L.A.-area poke purveyors, all for the sake of journalism and sparing you, dear reader, the terrible inconvenience of doing such a thing yourself. You can read about my best poke pick at Los Angeles Magazine, and then plan the rest of your day around the best falafel in the city, and the best late-night happy hour too.