I stopped by Top Chef season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio’s new restaurant Ink on Friday, but only to visit the bar. This place had been hyped for months prior to opening, while bartenders all over L.A. were being poached for positions and seduced by it’s many charms; the bolsterings of celebrity chef, a coveted Melrose address, and a bar program run by Devon Espinosa (formerly of Tasting Kitchen), who is the tallest and most brolic Asian man I have ever seen in my life, and who I am now deeming “The Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson” of bartenders.
I tried two dishes and two desserts while sitting at the bar, they were meh. The “Modern Los Angeles Cuisine” seemed an imitation of Jordan Kahn’s exquisite plating and textural schemes, but only in appearance, not in taste.
The drinks however were on point. Devon and the talented Nate Oliver served an assemblage of seasonal cocktails that were classic based, balanced, thoughtful, flavor packed and non pretentious. Devon likes to hand make syrups, sodas and tonics as much as he can and refers to his morning ritual of in-house production as his “zen time”. Picture Devon grinding the shit out of Falernum spices in a molcajete (that’s mexican for mortar and pestle, you know the thing they make guacamole out of).
My favorite drink was the tequila serrano, lime, thai basil, cilantro, mint, grapefruit and soda, garnished beautifully with a basil blossom. Devon infuses the tequila with serrano, and makes a thai basil-cilantro-mint syrup. Nifty.