It's the brand new mezcal bar attached to the restaurant Laurel Hardware.
"Tiny" may be exaggerating, but the bar is definitely small, a dark, cozy place to hang out in while getting to know this Oaxacan spirit better.
Restaurant owners Phil Howard and Dean McKillen are so enthusiastic about mezcal that they have bought into La Niña del Mezcal, a brand produced in Santiago Matatlán. La Niña's founder is Cecilia Rios Murrieta. Read about her by clicking here.
In the photo is La Niña's pechuga mezcal, from the 2015 limited edition. (Pechuga means breast and refers to the Oaxacan practice of steaming a chicken breast over mezcal to add flavor.)
This is bottle 31 of only 200 from a triple-distilled single pot still batch. The alcohol content is 47.98%, but in Oaxaca, alcohol can soar much higher.
La Niña is bright, fresh and fruity, far more charming than sipping straight tequila. At the preview party, I also tasted La Niña's tobalá mezcal, produced from agave growing wild in the mountains, and a Del Real pechuga, with a deeper, heavier flavor than that of La Niña. It's on the left in the photo above. The tobalá is on the right.
Here is the Rufino Tamayo, named for the artist whose museum is a must stop in Oaxaca City. The Ingredients are La Niña espadin mezcal (espadin is the type of agave used), Bols Genever (Dutch gin), Amaro Alpino, which is an Italian bitter spirit infused with mountain herbs, and Carpano Antica, a red vermouth. These add up to a pretty pink drink with a bitter edge.
Then there's the spectacular María Sabina, named after the legendary Oaxacan curandera whose rites involved Oaxaca's magic mushrooms. The ingredients are Los Nahuales reposado mezcal, Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, a dash of Cherry Heering, blood orange juice, muddled fresh basil and sea salt, with lavender rosemary foam on top. Shaw finishes the drink by grating coffee and Mexican chocolate onto the foam.
If that's not enough, one can move on to dinner in the patio restaurant (above). On a midweek evening Laurel Hardware was jammed with diners and drinkers. It makes one wonder how the diminutive, clubby mezcal bar will accommodate such a mob when word gets out about its premium mezcals.
Laurel Hardware, 7984 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046, (323) 656-6070.