There's no missing the culinary aspirations of Blue Cow Kitchen, the latest farm-to-table endeavor from Mendocino Farms' Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen. Emblazoned in lights on the front-facing wall are the words, "Eat Happy." And so the menu is full of familiar, comforting bar bites, sandwiches, and snacks (think root veggie chips, beet marinated deviled eggs, and a tandoori turkey club).
"The idea is that you've had this dish somewhere before, but we're making it better," says Steve Livigni, the mastermind behind Blue Cow's cocktail menu. His vision for the drinks program was similarly minded.
Livigni is known for his heady composed concoctions at La Descarga and Harvard & Stone (where he recently did a Wonka-style cocktail version of a Sunday Supper, complete with a peas and carrots drink and a vodka elixir made with beef bouillon). But he says he's gone simpler at Blue Cow, which in the heart of downtown is already attracting a buzzing happy hour crowd of after work drinkers.
"Every cocktail program has to think about their demographic," he explains, and so he worked with Del Pero to create a more accessible lineup of 12 cocktails that hit a range of spirits—offering modern reinterpretations of classic drinks including a gin and tonic with housemade tonic water, an Old Fashioned on tap, and a bevy of beer cocktails to lure suds drinkers to branch out.
"It's a good introduction to what's happening in modern cocktails," says Livigni. "They're flavors that people can wrap their heads around."
Livigni also honors the after-work mindset of his clientele by aiming to turn around drinks quickly, sticking to fast preparations, including drinks like the Old Fashioned on tap that can be prepped before service and dispensed to order. "We've got 30,000 people on top of us," says Livigni. "They all duck out at 5:00, and it speeds up the process of getting the drinks to them. It maybe takes out an element of show, but I think people are okay with that." It's all part of the drink-happy mentality.
Blue Cow Kitchen
About the author: Katie Robbins is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in Saveur, O Magazine, Psychology Today, and Eating Well, among others. You can follow her on Twitter at @robbinskatie.