May 3, 2011 / 10:42 AM / 8 years ago

The Spirited Traveler: Drinking with LA's "Star-Tenders"

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Doing business in sprawling Los Angeles isn’t all movie stars and Hollywood glitz.

In fact, motion pictures and television networks employ a paltry five percent of the local workforce. But here in LA sometimes you can enjoy a brush with fame for just the price of a cocktail.

For an insider's view, I asked Eric Alperin, one of LA's best-known mixologists, who shakes up classic cocktails at speakeasy-style bar The Varnish ( in downtown LA... that is, when he's not producing independent films with his production company, Ricochet Pictures.

Alperin's pick: The Spare Room (here) inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which describes itself as "a modern day gaming parlor and cocktail lounge".

The space features two vintage bowling lanes made from reclaimed materials, and for those who care to bowl, custom-designed shoes by footwear designer George Esquivel.

Most importantly, classic and signature cocktails are served in party-friendly punch bowls. (Another insider warns that for those without Hollywood connections, it can be difficult getting access to the bar. Walk in like you own the place.)

Sitting on the site of one of downtown LA's first private power plants, The Edison ( is larger than the two venues mentioned above, and known for its swanky vibe, live jazz bands and silent movies projected on the walls.

There’s also a sassy cocktail selection, like the eponymous The Edison, made with a private bottling of Woodford Reserve Bourbon (yes, even the liquor is exclusive in LA), pear liqueur, cinnamon syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

And for business travelers starved for a touch of glam, know that even the director of spirits here, Joseph Brooke, is a TV star: he won the first season of On the Rocks: The Search for America’s Next Top Bartender.

RECIPE: Kumquat Smash Courtesy of The Spare Room

5 kumquats, halved

8 lemon balm leaves

1 white sugar cube

0.5 oz simple syrup

0.25 oz Benedictine

2 oz Four Roses Bourbon

Muddle the first four ingredients in a mixing tin and add the bourbon and Benedictine, then strain into a julep cup. Add crushed ice, swizzle until the outside of the cup frosts, top with more crushed ice, garnish with one kumquat on toothpick and three sprigs of lemon balm leaves.

(Editing by Peter Myers and Paul Casciato)

Kara Newman is the author of "Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails", available. The opinions expressed are her own.

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