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Tiki Central Forums Beyond Tiki La Descarga, Thee New Rum Bar in Hollywood!
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La Descarga, Thee New Rum Bar in Hollywood!
Coco Joe
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 27, 2008
Posts: 721
From: Los Angeles
Posted: 2010-02-05 08:47 am   Permalink

http://www.latimes.com/theguide/bars-and-clubs/la-et-night5-2010feb05,0,7703427.story

Though the tiki cocktail was invented in Los Angeles, when it comes down to it, Angelenos don't consume a whole lot of its signature spirit: rum. Outside of select tiki bars such as Trader Vic's and Tiki-Ti, our interest in rum drinks doesn't go much further than the mojito. L.A. likes vodka and whiskey, says Craig Trager, who owns five bars including the Well and NoBar. If it weren't for his $3 margarita special at El Bar, which has a Mexican theme, he says he'd even have a hard time pushing tequila. "I order more vodka and Jack Daniels than anything."

Mark and Jonnie Houston, 31-year-old twins who grew up locally, intend to change that -- along with a slew of other tried-and-true night life conventions. With their new East Hollywood bar La Descarga, they not only specialize in vintage rum cocktails, but they also have a rum education program that takes place on an enclosed patio, which doubles as a cigar room. "We don't want to play it safe," says Mark, stressing that "this is not a tiki bar."

That's for sure. Walking up the long staircase to La Descarga's lobby is akin to stepping into a time machine and landing in old Havana. Patrons are greeted by a woman sitting at a desk with a built-in turntable playing Latin music. They are then welcomed into the bar, a gorgeous den bursting with authentic details: Caribbean colors in red, green and amber; wrought-iron railing, weathered wooden ceiling, antique sconces, Cuban artifacts, cigar boxes, Spanish Colonial doors, a red oak bar and a selection of about 70 rums that sit on shelves that take up an entire wall. "It's baroque and rustic and deteriorating," says Mark of the look. And, of course, there's the music, which alternates between era-specific play lists and live bands playing salsa, rumba, mambo and Caribbean music. Their mission never waivers: "No Top 40 or reggaeton," Mark adds.

To help fulfill their vision, the twins brought on Steve Livigni, one of L.A.'s most respected barmen. Before coming on board, Livigni was the general manager at the Doheny, a membership-only bar that specializes in artisanal cocktails, and before that he worked at the Four Seasons. As GM of La Descarga, he hit the ground running, working with buzzed-about cocktail consultant Pablo Moix to create the bar's drinks, many of which predate tiki. "I did a lot of research," says Moix, who managed to find a cocktail menu from the early years of Bar Florida, one of Cuba's most famous bars.

Together they came up with a menu that includes the traditional daiquiri as well as the Hemingway version, which comes with a double portion of rum -- of course! -- as well as fresh lime juice, grapefruit juice, Maraschino liqueur and a touch of sugar. There's also the Bad Spaniard, a guilty pleasure made with Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Amaro Averna, sweetened condensed milk, one whole egg yolk and cinnamon. In the process, Moix, who has a day job as portfolio mixologist for Bacardi, became so inspired he signed on to tend bar at La Descarga on nights he's available.

The bartenders were as carefully selected as the cocktails. And, as Livigni points out, many of them are women. "I believe this is the first time this many women will be behind the bar of a mixology venue." They all went through extensive training to learn the history of rum, the various ways it's made (for example, rum agricole is made of sugar cane that gets distilled immediately after it's been pressed for a fruitier, more tropical taste than the mass-produced rums we're more accustomed to), and how to serve it in a manner that's not intimidating to patrons. "That's what we're here for, to guide you through our beautiful selections of rum."

That said, you won't find the kind of snobbery common in many of L.A.'s classic cocktail bars. "If someone comes in and orders a Grey Goose and tonic, we'd be very happy to do it without a snicker," says Livigni.

For the Houston brothers, this is only their latest partnership. "We had a cellphone business at the age of 19. We were making four grand a week," says Jonnie, who then went on to work on night life projects, including Temporary Spaces, an indie DJ-driven club. His brother Mark was formerly in commercial real estate.

"We're taking seedy old dive bars and cleaning them up," says Mark. Hollywood's Piano Bar, which he and his brother acquired and reopened in August, now has the feel of a New Orleans bar complete with complimentary barbecue and blues on Sundays. "Our mom owns [Koreatown bar] Monte Carlo," says Jonnie. "It's kind of in our blood." In May, the twins plan to open a '60s-inspired manor in the former Forty Deuce space. They also have plans to revamp Hollywood's Stone Bar. With an eye for authenticity and an inclusive cocktail culture, they might be a new power team in L.A. night life.

alexandra.letellier @latimes.com

La Descarga
Where: 1159 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles

When: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Price: Rum cocktails, $9 to $12; rum flights, $15 to $50

[ This Message was edited by: Coco Joe 2010-02-05 08:49 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Coco Joe 2010-02-05 08:51 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Coco Joe 2010-02-12 00:40 ]


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Murph
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jul 11, 2006
Posts: 719
From: SoCal
Posted: 2010-02-05 11:37 am   Permalink

We need to set up a field trip!

 
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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Tiki Central Poet Laureate

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2792
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2010-02-05 11:42 am   Permalink

I agree. Next week sounds good.


 
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Coco Joe
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 27, 2008
Posts: 721
From: Los Angeles
Posted: 2010-02-05 11:44 am   Permalink

Next week works for me!

 
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Coco Joe
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 27, 2008
Posts: 721
From: Los Angeles
Posted: 2010-02-05 11:53 am   Permalink

here's a unbroken link to the video http://www.latimes.com/videobeta/?watchId=74cbc5cc-e2e4-48c1-97fe-47230392de44
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woofmutt
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 2601
From: Seattilite Telstar
Posted: 2010-02-05 11:56 am   Permalink

The story & video link above (first post) works if you cut-n-paste it. Or just click here:

La Descarga LA Times

Nice video, great looking joint.

"An outdoor bar serves cigars..." according to this site.
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Chip and Andy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 13, 2004
Posts: 2201
From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2010-02-05 12:12 pm   Permalink

Aww.... wrong Hollywood.

I live in the Florida Hollywood, got my hopes up for minute.


 
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arriano
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2006
Posts: 1286
From: Dog Patch - San Diego
Posted: 2010-02-05 1:23 pm   Permalink

Yeah, I read the article in the paper this morning. Watching the video, I had to laugh when they prominently show at the end a bottle of Havana Club. Is it just illegal to bring it here, not have it?


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Bora Boris
Mr. Unreasonable

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2573
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2010-02-05 1:26 pm   Permalink

Hmm, I don't know, I get the feeling these guys are trying hard to be cool but if there's a field trip and someone wants to make "Reservations" then I'm in. I'll gladly drive the 2.7 miles and show them what trying hard to be cool is all about.
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2689
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-02-05 1:56 pm   Permalink

"We don't want to play it safe," says Mark, stressing that "this is not a tiki bar."

RED ALERT. RED ALERT.

"We're taking seedy old dive bars and cleaning them up,"

This sends shudders up my spine.

"Our mom owns [Koreatown bar] Monte Carlo"

Now that to me sounds like the place to check out.


 
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Murph
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jul 11, 2006
Posts: 719
From: SoCal
Posted: 2010-02-05 2:05 pm   Permalink

Thursday next week good for everyone?

 
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Bora Boris
Mr. Unreasonable

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2573
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2010-02-05 2:08 pm   Permalink

Yep!

 
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dewey-surf
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 27, 2009
Posts: 167
From: Clearwater, FL
Posted: 2010-02-05 2:23 pm   Permalink


Cuban theme, Carribbean colors, Hemingway style daquiri......sounds like a Florida bar to me.


 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2689
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2010-02-05 2:27 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2010-02-05 14:23, dewey-surf wrote:

Cuban theme, Carribbean colors, Hemingway style daquiri......sounds like a Florida bar to me.


Yup, the only difference is in LA, we have 5 hipster douchebags for every 1 of yours.

It's true !!


 
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Murph
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Jul 11, 2006
Posts: 719
From: SoCal
Posted: 2010-02-05 2:59 pm   Permalink

Thursday roster:
1. Murph
2. Boris


 
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