Goldie's: A Cocktail Oasis on West Third in Los Angeles
I had long ago relegated Third Street to a time in my life when it was cutting edge to be a regular at the sort of place they'd eventually shoot a scene out of Entourage. But six months ago, a reason to revisit the neighborhood came via Nick Mathers, Lincoln Pitcher, and Nick Hatsatouris, the Australians also responsible for The Eveleigh to the north.
A beautiful, green bench-lined patio abutting a lush vertical garden sets Goldie's back from the street, so I walk past it every time I visit before having to retrace my steps. Ceiling-height mirrors expand the space, reflecting natural light that descends through the skylight during the day, and serving as an impressive backdrop for the beautiful backlit bar at night.
Goldie's may be a restaurant with a bar, but my solo visits have gravitated towards their elegant marble bartop, especially during daylight hours. (Early work day hookey? Never! Ok, sometimes.) Finding Brittini Rae Peterson behind the bar is an added bonus.
If your bar-neighbors' talk of script rewrites hasn't already tipped you off as to your locale, perhaps the ingredients in your dish and in your cocktail might. Many of the plates by Thomas Lim boast the freshest local produce (often prepared in the wood-burning oven), but they tend toward small, shared, and sometimes still spendy, which has convinced me that Goldie's is really a better place for snacking at the bar. The drinks are California-inspired, but without sacrificing any ingenuity, booze, or vigor.
As with many things, the beauty is in the details: their best-selling Golden Girl ($14) is made with a jalapeño-spiced Chinaco tequila; made tart with pureed, then strained, fresh passion fruit; sweetened with earthy agave syrup and topped off with a touch of lime meringue. Not the least of details is that the spice is well-balanced, whereas it's been an overpowering element in other heat-pushing drinks I've had around town.
The Third Street Mai Tai ($14) might have you rethinking the genre, thanks to Atlantico rum (infused with toasted coconut) at the center, with curacao and homemade orgeat filling it out. Miracle Mile's earthy-spicy Chocolate Chili bitters and a basil garnish finish it off, helping this drink shed any sugary shame of Mai Tais from another time and place.
As a lover of tart shrubs and smoky mezcal, I couldn't be happier to find the two ingredients married in the Six Degrees ($14). El Pelaton de la Muerte mezcal is combined with a red beet basil shrub, sherry vinegar, ginger and lemon for an equal parts smoky, sour, and spicy masterpiece. Suddenly, I'm not so sick of beets, anymore, but I resist ordering one more. This is one of those drink menus that is fun to soldier through as if a sampler: bring some friends, order a few different cocktails, and share little tastes here and there.
While it's easy to dismiss the IPA-based East of Eden ($14) as the requisite beer cocktail, it's one you shouldn't skip. Rock Sake is shaken with fresh apricot, Laird's apple brandy, and Velvet Falernum for a pitch-perfect clove note, and then hopped off with Cismontane's Coulter IPA. A sugar and espelette rim gives it a hit of extra spice.
When a light, bubbly drink is what I crave, I'll order the Aperol Spritz ($12) on tap. Brittini Rae says she has plans to to add a tap G&T with homemade tonic, flavored to shift for each season. In the afternoon or at sunset, I tend to prefer the Battery Park ($14). Rittenhouse rye is stirred with bittersweet Punt e Mes, maple syrup, and Miracle Mile Peach bitters (which was almost discontinued until Rae asked founder Louis Anderman to continue making them) before it's poured on a ball of ice made red with Peychaud's bitters. The ball mellows out the drink as it melts into the overproof rye, making for a Manhattan variation that's right up my alley.
I choose to visit Goldie's during her off-peak hours when I'm unwinding, though the space is pretty versatile, and the patio is always a hit. One warning though: the weekday pre-dinner cocktail is difficult here, as there is no happy hour and service starts as late as 6 p.m., and service ends by 11, so this isn't a late night spot on weekdays. However, weekend imbibers appreciate their all-day bar hours. Weekend brunchers may find refuge in their $16 bottomless mimosas, but I highly recommend the homemade Pimm's Cup, made with Brittini Rae's Grandma Mary's Amaretto, a secret recipe saved from her grandparents' Prohibition-era bar.
Though many bars pay lip service to seasonal ingredients and housemade concoctions, there's a unique finesse to the way all the ingredients are used at Goldie's—the very best of Southern California seems to make it into each cocktail glass.
About the Author: Esther Tseng is a Los Angeles based food and cocktail writer. Her best finds are chronicled on e*starLA while her day-to-day ponderings and poisons can be found on Twitter and Instagram @estarLA. She'll try anything once.