Where to Drink Poblano-Infused Tequila and Other Innovative Cocktails in L.A.

Noted Media
Wild bay leaf, passion fruit and mezcal (left) and a poblano-infused tequila with gazpacho and hard-boiled quail egg, both at Mon-Li.

Malibu's Mon Li and downtown's Le Neant have created unique cocktails using ingredients like gazpacho and hard-boiled quail eggs and their own house-made liquor.

A decade after L.A.'s cocktail revolution took hold (farmers' market sourcing, custom ice cubes), spreading from faux speakeasies to LAX terminal bars, comes a new round of fresh innovation.

Matthew Biancaniello, who made his name at the Roosevelt Hotel's Library Bar, has begun operating Mon-Li at Malibu's Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club (26025 Pacific Coast Highway). It presents a seasonal tasting menu — "I'm using things I forage nearby, like water mint and cactus root," he says — over 12 liquid courses ($150 per person). Mon-Li inverts the standard dining hierarchy: Food, like a red abalone hand roll, is paired with the cocktails, not vice versa.

Meanwhile, at downtown's Le Neant (519 S. Spring Street), opening Dec. 1, the bartenders determine what they serve — though it won't be made with store-bought Campari or Cynar.

"We're making all of our own amaros, bitters and vermouths," says bar director Kevin Lee. "We'll be reliant on the terroir, and as inconsistent as nature is."

This story first appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.