5 O'Clock Somewhere
The Tavern celebrates the cocktail in style
By Chris O'Neal 04/04/2013
211 E. Santa Clara St.
The best way to determine if a bar is worth visiting is to order an old-fashioned. Bourbon, a single cube of sugar, a dash of Angostura bitters and the zest of an orange over a little ice. If you’re given anything more (i.e., crushed ice and orange pulp or a freakin’ cherry), say “Good day!” in your best Willy Wonka voice and head for the door. Increasingly, it has become harder to find a good cocktail — classic cocktails or smart variations thereof. Visiting The Tavern will have you feeling otherwise.
Sit down at The Tavern’s dim bar and order up an old-fashioned and you’ll get it proper. Order the modern-fashion and you’ll get a unique variation, which is acceptable simply because you aren’t tricked into it.
Behind the bar is Nomo, a bartender with a great philosophy on the cocktail: fresh ingredients that coalesce. No artificiality in sight. He muddles a fresh blackberry with agave syrup and orange bitters, tops it with Buffalo Trace bourbon and the zest from a blood orange.
Refreshing and new with a classic twist, the modern-fashion is a worthy successor.
Another sign that the bar you’re sitting at is worth the stay is innovation. Creativity is common, quality is rare — The Tavern has both in spades. Try the barracho for a smoky alternative to standard tequila fare.
Nomo placed a bit of Mezcal, a Mexican liquor with a strong smokiness about it, into a shaker full of ice along with gin, orgeat (almond-infused syrup) and lime. He gave it a shake and strained it into a glass rimmed with smoked sea salt sourced from Spice-topia on Main Street. It came garnished with a cucumber. This is a cocktail that demands attention.
Smart. Classic. Brilliant. The Tavern is a wonderful place to study the wisdom found in a cocktail.
5 O’Clock Somewhere is a new column and will run every other week for the latest in tempting intoxication around Ventura County.