Vodka is just slowing down from an unparalleled heyday that was created, in part, by the thirsty girls of Sex and the City, and their unquenchable fondness for the Cosmopolitan (1½ ounces citrus vodka, ½ ounce Cointreau , ¾ ounce cranberry juice, ½ ounce lime juice, 2 dashes orange bitters, orange zest for garnish). But despite the fact that gin, rum, whiskey and tequila are all absorbing their own place in the spotlight, everyone knows that vodka isn’t going anywhere. And with its singular ability to carry flavors and infusions, it’s the top booze for flavored drinks and cocktails. If you haven’t had your fill of the traditionally potato-based potable, you might want to check out these hot spots for some of the best infused/flavored vodka drinks in the Los Angeles area.
8741 Alden Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048
This French-Asian fusion restaurant has been around for ages, and recently underwent a remodel and a menu overhaul. But despite the sweeping changes (including a new chef and a new interior), the CHAYA Infusion is still on the menu. In fact, it’s the only cocktail that remained after the new menu was put in place. This is probably testament to the fact that the clean and simple libation – made only from fresh pineapple left to soak in large glass vats of vodka (with optional fruit puree added to drinks upon request) is the kind of good no one wants to get rid of.
Hal’s Bar & Grill
1349 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291
In the whir surrounding that new Hollywood hot spot, and this theme bar, it’s easy to lose sight of the classics – institutions that no longer need buzz in order to survive, but now exist by virtue of their quality and a loyal clientele. Hal’s is one of those places. A 25-year-old Venice landmark, Hal’s is as known for their bar as they are for their art (and the famous artists who dine there). One of Hal’s staples is their “My Bloody Best,” which is purity vodka infused with jalapeno-citrus bacon and Hal’s house-made bloody Mary mix.
Nic’s Martini Lounge
453 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4819
It’s small wonder that LA’s consummate vodka bar would serve an award-winning vodka drink. What might be surprising is how seamlessly the unusual ingredients pair to create the perfect cocktail. Nic’s “What a Nice Pear You Have,” blends Grey Goose Poire vodka with fresh pear juice. That may not seem out of the ordinary, but the single ribbon of shaved Parmesan-Reggiano placed on top adds the perfect touch of salt to keep the sweetness in check. The result – whether you crumble the cheese into the drink or nibble it on the side – is absolutely addictive.
Red Chair Lounge
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa
21500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
This bar might be in a hotel, but that doesn’t mean it’s your standard-issue hotel bar. The Red Chair Lounge offers billiards and a cozy atmosphere and – of course – cocktails; lots of delicious cocktails. Their most popular is the signature Red Chair Martini, made with house-infused strawberry vodka and fresh raspberries. You don’t have to be traveling to enjoy it, but locals say it’s worth the trip.
1356 Palmetto Street
Los Angeles, CA 91003
You don’t have to be evil to go to Villains Tavern, but you’ll definitely feel like a villain if you do. Among their many sinful things to sip is the newly created “Harlequin”: House-infused hibiscus vodka, Peychaud’s bitters, lemon & orange juice, egg white, simple syrup and muddled mint, served up. This delicious and dangerous elixir doesn’t even taste like liquor, but – make no mistake – it’ll have its wicked way with you if you’re not on your guard.