Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Rocoto, aji amarillo, huacatay, and leche de tigre are just a few of the Peruvian flavors that fill the menus of Chef Ricardo Zarate's three Los Angeles restaurants. The newest, Paiche, just opened in Marina Del Rey, and aims to explore the kinship between Peruvian and Japanese cuisine in an izakaya style setting. Head bartender Deysi Alvarez of Mo-Chica now also helms the Paiche bar. Her goal with Paiche was to harness the energy of the coastal location, playing with drinks from both the bright and fruity side and seriously boozy side of the cocktail spectrum.
"When Ricardo and Stephane told me about this location, I was really excited," explains Alvarez. "I wanted to make drinks that are very beachy, so people can enjoy themselves. Paiche—even the name is a fish. Being by the beach, the restaurant has such a great energy," she says. "It's designed to be open and inviting. We want to make drinks that keep them coming back."
Peruvian favorites like the Chilcano can be made with or without the menu's clove variation, and housemade orange bitters elevate the margarita, while the Asian Paradise features green apple, kale, and Asian pear juice. Alvarez included a vodka offering too, called the Palma Fizz. "The only vodka we carry is the Fair made from quinoa. It's so light," she says.
Though the glass shelves behind the bar are lined with bottles of pisco, you'll note that Alvarez's love for tequila and rum is also on display. "Off the menu I also have a rum old fashioned and a whisky old fashioned. I especially love Japanese whisky," she adds. Alvarez features both Peruvian and Japanese flavors on the drink menu, sometimes in a single cocktail. She incorporates both Hakashu Whisky and shiso-infused Pisco Porton in a cocktail that might look like a simple pisco sour, and pulls in seasonal ingredients when possible, like the whole passion fruit she muddles into the Maracuya Caipirinha.
About the Author: Julie Wolfson (@juliewolfson) is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She covers travel, lifestyle, art, pop culture, cocktails and food.