78 Years After Prohibition, Venice's Townhouse Returns to Classic Cocktails

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What's a nice kid like you doing with farmers market ingredients like this, see? Photo: Ky_Olsen via Flickr

For anyone who got all ginned up on the first chapter of Ken Burns' Prohibition documentary last night, a timely announcement arrives this morning from Townhouse in Venice. Opened in 1915 as Menotti's, Townhouse is L.A.'s second oldest operating bar and the site of a basement speakeasy during the nationwide alcohol ban (a manager tells us that the upstairs stood as a grocery store-style front, while the basement was both speakeasy and a major drop point for bootlegger booty coming in from the ocean). So, what's new at this 96-year-old bar?

A few summers ago, Townhouse repealed its dive bar trappings (which included a sexual aid once thrown at the bartender's head) to embrace its history, with a more enchanting look and a downstairs speakeasy called El Monte, where burlesque performances, surprise shows from the likes of Damien Marley and Prince, and Hit 'n Run breakdowns are known to occur. Now, only 78 years after the 18th Amendment was overturned, the arts-supporting bar returns to a menu of classic cocktails brought up to contemporary times.

On October 11th, a new bar menu will be released, designed by the hand of general manager and beverage director Brandon Ristaino, a 1933 Group vet from Bigfoot Lodge West and Thirsty Crow. Ristaino will help the bar to release four seasonal cocktail menus every year, with house cocktails and Dave Wondrich and Milk and Honey-inspired punches, as well as libation legends turned up a notch through market produce and hand-made syrups and, as they probably never really said in the days of temperance, all that jazz.

Check out Townhouse's full new cocktail list down below. At twelve dollars a pop, they might not be Prohibition prices, but you can drink without fear of praying women in bonnets.

Townhouse/Del Monte Speakeasy
52 Winward Ave. Venice. 310-392-4040
New menu releasing October 11th

MENU

House Cocktails

Brown Derby
Bourbon, hand-squeezed grapefruit juice, and house-prepared honey syrup, all shaken

A Touch of Evil
Mescal, house-made date syrup, market fresh clementine and grapefruit juice, all shaken with malice

Suntory Time
Yamazaki single malt, house-made honey syrup, Angostura bitters, and orange stirred old fashioned style

A Gala Affair
(Based on a cocktail designed by Alicia Walton of San Franciso's Elixir)
Genever, yellow chatreuse, farmers market Gala apple juice, and lemon, all shaken vigorously

Fall Manhattan
Applejack American brandy, rye whiskey, Miracle Mile Peruvian bitters, and sweet vermouth, all stirred with a Gala apple garnish

Boardwalk Board
Bourbon, kiwi, house-made chamomile syrup, lemon, and egg white shaken with love

Harvest Moon
Reposado tequila, pisco, market red grapes and lime, mint, and cinnamon prepared caipirinha style over ice

Hemingway Daquiri
Light rum, maraschino, hand squeezed lime and grapefruit juice, all shaken up like Papa used to drink

The Classics

Old Fashioned

Sazerac
with Miracle Mile chocolate bitters and a flaming lemon twist

Negroni

Manhattan

French 75

Whiskey Sour
Rye, hand-squeezed lemon juice, and egg whites, shaken violently with an orange twist

Seasonal Punch

Wondrich's Wunderkind $50 (serves 2-4)
Aged rum, Irish black tea, demerara, hand-squeezed lime juice, and fresh grated nutmeg

Broker Royale
(Based on a recipe by Sam Ross, of Milk & Honey)
London dry gin, market hand-squeezed lemon juice, date syrup, stone pine liqueur, absinthe, Miracle Mile orange bitters, and champagne