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A Modern Los Angeles Hideaway

Much has changed about downtown LA. The area is bursting with new restaurants and bars, although not all of the area is safe. That’s why a weekend getaway at the Hotel Figueroa is so appealing. It is home to a solid brunch place, a good bar, an upscale Italian and a Mexican restaurant.

I had the good fortune of staying, and eating there, recently. The salads are crisp at the Fig and the Wine list appealing. Sparrow Italia, the Italian restaurant, is turning out first-rate pasta and pizza and the corporate beverage director—for Noble33, which has restaurants in the U.S. and abroad; and the Hotel Figueroa—Carla Lorenzo is mixing up some great cocktails.

I recently sat down with her to get her take on the cocktail program and the backstory on how such a relatively young woman came to head up the drinks program at the hotel.

All responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Liza B. Zimmerman: What made you want to go into the food and wine business?

Carla Lorenzo: I had no aspirations to enter the food and wine business. My journey started when I began bartending to help put myself through college. I really took a liking to it and bartending transitioned from being just a job into something I genuinely enjoyed. Eventually, I took the reins and started running bars, and I haven’t looked back ever since.

L.B.Z.: What is unique about the Figueroa?

C.L.: Hotel Figueroa has a distinct ambiance that sets it apart from the bustling scene of DTLA. Having bartended in downtown for nearly a decade, I can attest to its unique, urban charm, like a little haven amidst the chaos of a city.

L.B.Z.: What are your wine and spirits focus for such a unique property?

C.L.: Our focus on wine at Hotel Figueroa centers around showcasing wines from small- to medium-sized producers. We prioritize wines that are organically grown. Additionally, we are committed to promoting wines from minority winemakers and women in the industry.

L.B.Z.: How are the menus and drinks lists different from restaurant to restaurant?

C.L.: The menus and drink lists at each of our restaurants reflect the theme of each establishment. Sparrow Italia is inspired by coastal Italian cuisine; at La Casita the cocktails are rooted in Mexican ingredients; and Bar Magnolia is currently undergoing a transformation to align with a focus on the 1920s to the 1960s.

L.B.Z.: Is the wine list at Sparrow Italia exclusively Italian?

C.L.: The wine list at Sparrow Italia is not exclusively Italian. While it does lean heavily towards Italian varietals, especially by the glass to allow patrons to explore the world of Italian wines, it also includes a wide range of French variations.

L.B.Z.: Why do you focus on buying from small importers?

C.L.: We prioritize purchasing from small importers because it allows us to obtain exceptional wines at a remarkable value. In addition, small importers typically operate on a more personal and direct basis.

L.B.Z.: How do you keep the “by glass list” innovative?

C.L.: We deliberately avoid the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon- and Pinot Noir-based wines. This encourages our patrons to explore a wider variety of wine options and steer clear of the expected.

L.B.Z.: How do you choose unique spirits for the cocktail list?

C.L.: We incorporate liqueurs and vermouths that come from small-batch producers and are less well-known. This approach allows us to add complexity to our cocktail offerings.

L.B.Z.: What are some of the unique cocktails that you feature?

C.L.: A couple of the most notable are Sicily, a cocktail known for its olfactory experience. We create an aromatic element by smoking rosemary in a bowl and using dry ice to release its scent across the table, immersing you in the sensory journey of Sicily.

Basilica is a drink that includes a strawberry-scented air element and is garnished with edible paper, which we cut into butterflies, evoking the region’s butterfly-filled landscapes, attached using glue made from marshmallows, making it entirely edible.

The post A Modern Los Angeles Hideaway appeared first on Italian News Today.

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A Modern Los Angeles Hideaway


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