Out in L.A.

I was in Los Angeles this past weekend to work with David OG on another super secret project. We're always slaving away on crazy projects behind the scenes; but this one required us to physically be together, so I jumped on a plane and headed down. Despite all of the time I've spent in Southern California, I've never flown into LAX proper (always Burbank, John Wayne, or San Diego). In my opinion, the descent into West LA's main hub is one of the most spectacular sights one can see -- an urban sprawl that goes on for miles, and miles, and miles. I think often people do not realize how big Los Angeles truly is.

After a hard day's work, we headed out for a little get together where Keith Mabry was frying up wings, thighs, and breasts to perfection. When I say "perfection," I mean the best fried chicken I've ever had. That man is a wizard. I couldn't stop telling him how good he was at it. No one was pretending to be French at this wine party, and there were no weird organ meat plates that we were all supposed to pretend reminded us of our country childhoods. Mari was hosting and she whipped up some American classics like corn casserole, mac and cheese, and never-ending baskets of fluffy biscuits. They put on a show last night that put us NorCal folks to shame -- these people know how to have fun.

What good is fried chicken without an endless amount of K&L grower/producer Champagne on ice? Our own Adam Parry was there at the table, guarding the buckets, making sure I didn't drink too much of it. We still had a long night ahead of us.

I was shacked up at the Redbury on Vine Street -- a swank, glam-focused, romantic take on old Hollywood with a modern twist. The bar downstairs got it right, too -- none of this small bite, olive plate BS with your gigantic cocktail of pure liquor, but rather some serious starch action. I got a Mediterranean Margarita -- tequila, fig simple syrup, and lime -- and a bowl of spicy carrot dip with a huge chunk of piping hot flatbread that came straight from the wood-burning oven. After fortifying my stomach against the onslaught ahead, David OG and I were ready to hit the streets.

The best bar we hit last night (and the best bar I've been to in ages, period) is Good Times at Davey Wayne's -- a non-descript house on a dark, unremarkable Hollywood block, that looks like a garage installation, but in reality is a secret bar with a wild party going on inside of it. You walk up the driveway to what looks like a kooky yard sale being run by two guys (who in reality are bouncers). You can hear something happening, but you can't tell where it's coming from. You suddenly realize that people are going in and out of that old-looking refrigerator in the back, which is not actually full of Miller High Life; it's the surreptitious entrance to what is a giant house party.

Inside Davey Wayne's there were people dancing, cozying up on couches, and ordering fun, experimental new cocktails like Smoke on the Water -- an aromatic mix of Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Laphroaig 10, vermouth, and various bitters. I must have sat there with a smile on my face for ten straight minutes, totally content to just people watch and take in the scene.

There are those who say that LA's food and drink scene is a few years behind the Bay Area's, and they might be right about that. But being the first to do something doesn't mean you're always doing it best. The Los Angeles cocktail scene has put the fun back into drinking and the honesty back into food. They're bringing style with substance. I'm totally jealous.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll