MELROSE UMBRELLA CO.
HANDCRAFTED COCKTAIL BAR TURNS TWO
Avoiding all the pitfalls that are often associated with the “terrible twos” and the “sophomore jinx”, handcrafted cocktail bar Melrose Umbrella Co. didn’t stumble or slow down during its current sprint to be the leading mixology bar in the competitive West Hollywood and Fairfax District area. If you’re looking for a cool watering hole where drinks are king and attitude takes a back seat to craft, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better bar.
Having just turned two, the bar celebrated with the release of its Volume IV cocktail menu. This new menu spreads the bar’s wings a little further than in the past as there’s a drink and spirit for every taste.
“The whole theme of this menu is to reintroduce the simple, comfortable concepts of drinking to our patrons,” the bar noted in a recent press release. Program Manager Dave Purcell offers a clean take so people can quickly identify what they want and what they like, without compromising the integrity of a well-made drink. Think of the new menu as a map rather than a novel.
“The drinks lend themselves to natural flavors of Spring, drawing from notes that keep us warm in the winter and lead us into clean fruit and grassy tones of the changing season. It’s a menu of transition, much like how we are moving into our second year of operation, and how people’s lives seek change in a new year.”
We started our recent trip down the new menu with the Romeo & Mignonette, Dave Purcell’s play on a dirty martini. “The dirty martini has an enormous following of cocktail aficionados and the uninitiated, and I wanted to channel the same spirit of this with a nice flavorful edge,” Purcell explains. “I love a classic dirty martini with a plate of oysters, so I tried my best to translate the pairing that I love into a drink, since we don’t serve oysters here.”
Made with Plymouth Gin or Absolute Elyx Vodka, Mignonette-treated Vermouth with a pinch of salt and Castelvetrano olive, this drink is way too classy to be dirty martini and comes across as the perfect dirty martini meets Gibson. Perhaps it was the gin and vermouth combination but I also picked up a hint of classic Martinez taste, which immediately made me a fan of this drink.
Staying in the white liquor mode, we tried the Dutch Holiday, the bar’s take on the Collins. A mix of Elderflower, Guana and gin along with sugar-dusted mint, this drink was too floral for me as I’m not a fan of mint at all. People said that girls will love this drink but I don’t think that’s fair to female drinkers, at least not the ones I know. But yes, this is light and sweet and will go down easy for those who don’t crave boozy drinks like me.
Next up was the Power Nap a sweet and sour concoction with Four Roses Bourbon, house citrus cordial, Campari, and vanilla sugar-citric-acid rim that’s supposed to be more Sidecar than whiskey sour. Personally, this drink was too sour for me but then I’m not a huge Sour Patch Kids fan. I was told you would taste the sour first and then finish with the sweet, but for me, it was just the opposite and I wasn’t a fan of a drink where the last note you pick up is bitterly sour.
Things really picked up with The Living Daylights. This drink is in the “not too sweet” category and is a delicious mix of raspberry-infused scotch, Pimms, lemon, honey, Averna, a pinch of mint, mint leaf bag and Islay Mist. I feared this drink would be too sweet, not to mention it has mint but it was a solid cocktail.
“This cocktail is my ode to Pimms,” Purcell says. “I love it, it has this dry, Imperial, black tea affectation, extending in a nice long finish with the combination of the raspberry scotch. It tastes like an afternoon tea overlooking a croquet match, both bold and delicate. Served with an Islay Scotch mist to maintain the potency, and a hand-filled tea bag with mint leaves because why the fuck not?”
Fans of dark spirits and potent drinks may want to experience the Fireside Chat. A take on the Manhattan, it’s made with toasted pecan-infused Woodford Reserve, Lustau Amontillado & Palo Cortado Sherry, Port, maple syrup, Miracle Mile Forbidden bitters, and Star of Anise. This isn’t a real Manhattan but if you’re a fan of the classic drink, then you’ll get this one. This is a drier version yet still has the same look and feel of a Manhattan.
The Grin & Carrot drink is a bit of a reach for the bar as it’s really their first attempt at tiki. A blend of Zaya (a really nice rum), Denizen White Rum, Avua Amburana Cachaca, carrot, lime, orgeat, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao (amazing!), and Arugula-Tarragon powder and edible orchid, think Mai Tai but this drink really is in a league all its own. A must for fans of tiki drinks or just bold cocktails.
Our last drink from the new Volume IV menu was the Mezcali Me Banana, a spicy drink made with Vida Mezcal (or D.A. Plata Tequila), Giffard Banane du Bresil, grapefruit, lime, light agave nectar, prickly pear puree, Serrano-Habanero salt rim and charred Rosemary Sprig. I loved the fieriness of this drink. There’s a lot going on yet everything really comes into play together and balance is key here.
With four impressive cocktail menus in two years, it’s really exciting to see where Melrose Umbrella Co. will go next. The bar program is definitely creative and not afraid to think outside the box and the proof is in its first rate libations. Only two now, the sky really is the limit for these mad scientists.
Melrose Umbrella Co. is located at 7465 Melrose Ave. Open Mon-Wed 9am to 11pm; Thurs - Sat 9am to 2am; Sun 9 am to 11pm. Call 323-951-0709.
Photography Courtesy of: Melrose Umbrella Co.
Story by Jose Martinez