COOL CULVER CITY BLOCK-LONG PUB CRAWL
Downtown Culver City has really taken off these last couple of years, from new cool bars and hipster joints to even vegan eats, but there’s more to the area, especially along nearby Venice Boulevard, than just the popular Cuban restaurant Versailles. Mixology fans, along with good old barflies can now revel in Culver City.
Recently, I ventured on an impromptu pub-crawl of two local bars. Starting at Oldfield’s Liquor Room, located at the former Saints & Sinners space, this bar harkens to an era long gone, honoring cocktails from decades past. It features a casual vibe and reminded me of sipping a good rum drink in Havana. Indeed, Oldfield’s Liquor Room is a haven for classic cocktail lovers, boasting a selection of over 20 unique house made specialties.
Oldfield’s forgotten classic cocktails date back to as early as the late 1700’s and 1800’s, including wonderful rarities such as the Bonded Old Fashioned mixed with Laird’s Straight Bonded Applejack, sugar and Angostura Bitters; the Whiskey Sangaree made with Old Weller 107 Bourbon, port wine, sugar, nutmeg and fresh lemon; and the Old Pal, circa 1920’s, made of Old Overholt Rye, Campari, and Dolin Dry Vermouth then served up in a frosty coupe. Definitely comforting classics that very well could have been enjoyed by Barney Oldfield, a pioneering race car driver actually buried in Culver City.
Hands down, the must-have signature cocktail is the Outlaw, made with Milagro Reposado Tequila, cilantro, jalapeño honey, fresh grapefruit and lime. It’s phenomenal. Strong but not overpowering, you will definitely know that you’re drinking a real cocktail with this one - and thankful for it.
Other tasty cocktails worth trying include Oldfield’s Hemmingway, made with Bulleit Rye, maraschino, cane sugar and fresh juices; Blonde Comet mixed with Elijah Craig 12-year Bourbon, crème de peche, grapefruit and Angostura bitters; No. 999, Ardbeg Scotch, fresh lemon and house-made grenadine; Peerless, Martin Miller’s 90 Proof Gin, apricot liqueur, apricot nectar and ginger beer, and the Vanderbilt Cup, prepared with Hendrick’s Gin, port wine reduction, St. Germain, peach bitters and ginger beer.
If you’re hungry, the bar also offers tasty panninis, the meat-free choice is the sweet Fromager d’ Affinois Brie, Rosemary and Apricot Mostarda on fresh Ficelle bread. Your other choice is the heartier Fromager d’ Affinois Brie, Fra’ Mini Smoked Ham, Black Cherry Jam on fresh Ficelle bread.
Happy hour is daily from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Selected drinks, including the Outlaw, are $7, the panninis are $6, selected red and white wines are $5 a glass, and draft beers are $5.
Oldfield’s Liquor Room is home to esteemed female spirit advisor Robin Jackson. Her signature house-made punch bowl brew landed her and Russell’s Reserve the top honors for ‘Best Whiskey Punch’ at the recent Whiskey of the World Invitational. Robin’s one-of-a-kind Johnny’s Angel Punch, which serves eight and is only available only at Oldfield’s, is a nod to the 1933 Repeal Day and is a winning mix of Russell’s Reserve, chartreuse, orange-cardamom syrup, fresh juices and champagne.
A few steps west and I found myself at Bigfoot West, a mountain top lodge looking bar that screams ‘stiff drink.’ Bigfoot West is a haven for whiskey lovers, boasting a selection of over 100 whiskies including 60+ small batch bourbons. Classically trained mixologist Jared Mort oversees the bar’s cocktail program, which embraces sustainable, seasonal practices and utilizes techniques and recipes of bar masters from the days of yore. And just like the neighboring Oldfield’s Liquor Room, Bigfoot West uses fresh squeezed juices, in-house infusions, homemade shrubs, sherbets, jams, purees and fresh seasonal ingredients from Culver City Farmer’s Market.
While the look of the bar may suggest a stiff shot and a beer chaser, there are also several fancy cocktails to choose from, including classics like a Side Car to the very popular Old Fashioned, there are also champagne crafted cocktails, as well as the $25 Horny Goat Elixir, prepared with house ‘performance enhancing’ herbal liquor. Each ingredient in this formula is hand selected for you by Senior Herbalist Borna Ilic to work together as an overall sexual and energy tonic. The bar boasts it should improve endurance, libido, and strength while reducing agitation and improving mood. Supposedly, it is perfectly suitable for both men and women.
A new concoction at Bigfoot West is their distinctive version of the Pickle Back. This unusual, but tasty drink features a pickle juice chaser with a shot of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey. Per Bigfoot West Bartender Frank Turrisi, it’s his secret brine recipe that differentiates Bigfoot West’s from the rest.
“The best part is watching the puckering patrons,” quips Turrisi.
But if beer is more your thing, than fear not, Bigfoot West celebrates every Thursday with their special Cask Beer opening, which is available until it runs out. The special casks come from the Stone Brewing Company and according to beer purists it’s the best way to enjoy a beer in its most original state.
Thirsty locals should rejoice that they have two fine bars walking distance. For anyone else looking to make a real night out of it, cab it! Both watering holes are part of the 1933 Group’s collection of bars, which include the Thirsty Crow, Little Cave, Bigfoot San Francisco and Bigfoot Lodge.
Oldfield’s Liquor Room is located at 10866 Venice Blvd. in Culver City. Hours: Monday thru Sunday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call 310-842-8066.
Bigfoot West is located at 10939 Venice Blvd. Hours: Monday thru Sunday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call 310-287-2200.