Friday, July 15, 2011

Move Over, Mojitos, The Mint Swizzle Is Here

There are many things one might do in the name of being a food blogger that one might otherwise not do. Buy three pints of ice cream to decide which one pairs best with the cookies one is craving. Roast an entire chateaubriand just to say you've done it, and then invite half the neighborhood over to help eat it. Fuss over the placement of pieces of lettuce on a plate for 30 minutes until they have reached optimal beauty for photography.
Oooh, the fourth wall, my notebook, a bounce for light.

While I may or may not have done all of the above, I did walk into Sotto the other night, a southern Italian restaurant on Pico and Beverly in the old Test Kitchen space, and said, "I have an odd request." I'm not sure what kinds of other odd requests they hear at the bar, but everyone in my eyesight bristled until I pulled out a bag of mint and set it on the counter. Making me a drink with Maggie's Mint, a hybrid variety reminiscent of spearmint, was suddenly a relief. Why Sotto? It is one of the few restaurants that lauds their mixologists as much as their chefs, and that fact will guarantee you a solid mixed drink from the bar. (And amazing wood-fired pizzas to pair with them.)
What you're supposed to do with a swizzle spoon.

My mixologist, Kate, came up with a swizzle; an agitation technique that lands safely in between shaken and stirred. (The swizzle spoon is that long, twisted, wrought-handled thing I thought was a long stirring spoon at the bar, demonstrating where my culinary knowledge starts to fray.)  Lime juice brightens the drink, rum softens it, bitters give it some heft and the presentation is sophisticated yet fun. The most important people in my life; my contractor, my accountant, my mixologist.
Maggie's Mint
Queen's Park Swizzle
Recipe courtesy Kate Grutman, Sotto Restaurant

Serves: 1
A handful of mint, about ten leaves, plus sprig for garnish
1 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce evaporated cane sugar syrup (simple syrup)
2 ounces Rhum J.M. agricole white rum
three heavy shakes each Angostura and Peychaud's bitters

Gently muddle mint in bottom of glass with swizzle spoon. Pour in rum, lime juice and simple syrup, add ice until glass is 3/4 full. Agitate with swizzle spoon. Top with bitters and garnish with mint. Serve.

You can use any white rum, but agricole is a pot-distilled, unaged variety, explaining its lack of tannins and color. The pot-distilled process brings a woodier, fuller flavor to it than other rums.
Queen's Park Swizzle

9575 West Pico Blvd., (between Beverwil and Beverly) Los Angeles, CA,  90035

Kitchen at Sotto


  1. We're incredibly on the same page. Come for Kate (also rec'd by HuffPo's @faq_lq), especially after a break up. I like her jeans too. And who uses farmers market blueberries in cocktails? This place.

    OTOH, the lavash they're calling pizza is suffering from a major existential crisis.

  2. Now I have something to do with the loads of mint that have taken over my herb garden. We will be trying this later this evening:)

  3. Just wanted to say "thank you both" for reading. You are two of my favorite food people!


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