AMMO has long been known to be a great space for great food - a small oasis, tucked away on a quiet patch of Highland just around the corner from all the glitz and grime of Hollywood. Now they've set out to bring the same attention to their bar, and they've brought in the big guns. Jason Robey (of Santa Monica's Michael's) has designed the bar's new cocktail menu and bar manager Laila Ayad was on hand on a quiet Monday night to help guide us through the new libations.
The Belgian Sunrise (below, left - $10) was a nice way to kick things off. A true beer drinker's cocktail, this dark, dreamy glass features meticulously layered gradations of Allagash white ale, Lindemans lambic framboise and Framboise Liqeuer. A touch of raspberry shines through the dark sudsy brew.
The Johnny Green Spot (below, right - $14) was the clear-cut favorite of the night. An enticing aroma of Thai basil compliments the spicy, sweet cocktail of Tiera's anejo tequila, green chartreuse, meyer lemon juice, grapefruit juice and jalapeno. Perfectly balanced.
And of course you wouldn't want us sampling cocktails on an empty stomach, would you? The Mini Burgers (below - $8) featured two grassfed beef sliders and one turkey slider, each with tomato and aioli. As a general rule of thumb, turkey burgers never outshine their beef counterpart. But suprisingly, the juicy, moist turkey burger stood out the most to us.
The Citrus Fashioned (below, left - $12) had a more polarizing reception amongst our party. Despite the delicious and strong base of Willet 5-yr Rye, the drink comes off as an interestingly watery version of its distant Old Fashion cousin. Lemon, orange and tangerine zest, maraschino jus, and bitters round out the drink.
The Maple Leaf Rag $12 (below, right) was another exemplary display of aromatics. A sprig of burnt rosemary left a wafting cloud of its fragrance over the bar before being dropped into a glass. Poured over top of it? Black Maple Hill bourbon, lemon juice and maple syrup helped make this an herby and sweet treat.
We took another break from the cocktails to snack on some more of the very straightforward, reasonably priced offerings from the Bar Menu. You just can't beat the no-fuss elegance of French breakfast radishes (below, left - $4) served with Straus butter and sea salt for dipping.
The AMMO crackers (below, right - $3) were another simple treat, pleasant crisps of flour, honey and water, baked in house and seasoned with herbs.
The charcuterie plate (below left - $12) with prosciutto di Parma, Fra’ Mani salame toscano & soppressata, quince jam, cornichons and toasted walnuts was a standard issue offering.
The grilled cheese (below, left - $6) won us over with its crunchy grilled country white bread packed with gooey, savory Emmental cheese and crispy, caramelized shallots.
If you can believe it, at this point, we were only halfway through the cocktail list. The Grand Rep (below, left - $18) gets a really smoky kick from Ilegal mezcal reposado (the big ticket item) that works well with the vanilla and hints of citrus from the Grand Marnier and lime juice. Applewood smoked salt brings the aromatic element.
A little less substantial, the Highland Fizz (below, right - $11) combined Tru organic lemon verbena infused vodka, tangerine juice, Bundaberg giner beer, mint, and bitters for a light, refreshing sip.
Our final savory dish was a showstopper: the baked penne (below - $8) with aged white cheddar, fresh thyme and breadcrumbs is crazy rich, luxurious and perfectly seasoned. A gut-buster of a dish, even the small-ish portion is enough to satisty a hungry diner.
We moved on to our final drinks. The Dominicano (below, left - $10) is a real gin-drinker's treat. The Citadelle gin and the two different types of vermouth are the dominant flavors, leaving a thick herbal punch with just a touch of citric acidity.
Finally, the bubbly and citrus-y Blood Orange Crush (below, right - $11) marries Bele Casel Prosecco, Aperol, blood orange juice, and fresh thyme in a fun, sweet, spritzy way.
Our stomachs were near capacity, but AMMO's chocolate chip cookies were a great way to end the meal. The soft and chewy cookies are wholesome, deriving sweetness more from the thick gobs of melted chocolate stowed inside than from added sugar. But apparently the cookies didn't sell as well when they were formerly billed as 'wholesome' on the menu. As awesome as they are, let's all agree to just refer to them as 'decadent'.
We may be relative newbies to the world of cocktails, but we do know what we like: balanced, thoughtful drinks utilizing the best ingredients, and that cater to both the palate and the nose. To that end, we were really impressed with the cocktail list at AMMO - definitely a destination for those wanting to take their imbibing to the next level. Paired with a solid bar menu, a cozy stool at AMMO's bar is a great place to spend any evening.
Disclosure: This was a hosted meal.