by Kim Tronic, Resident Cocktail Mistress…
Remember those middle school summers when your friends shipped off to camp? And when school started again in September, all they did was brag about how much fun they had? (Despite suffering from 23,000 bug bites and swimming in bacteria-infested lakes, of course.)
Instead of joining those friends, I chose to stay home and annoy my parents, like any lazy tween. Trust me, you’ve never experienced true joy until you’ve played Legend Of Zelda four days straight in a windowless basement, stuffing your face with thousands of Pringles. But every now and then I’d wonder if I made the wrong choice by sitting around, getting carpal tunnel, and watching my butt get bigger.
Thankfully, I found a better way to enjoy the camp ambience (campbience?) than making friendship bracelets and telling ghost stories from a bunk bed. Go check out Messhall Kitchen in Los Feliz (formerly known as The Derby, home of some truly terrific live music).
The interior reminds me of a high-end camp cafeteria — think Beverly Hills meets “Meatballs.” The atmosphere is cozy, but also chatty and buzzy. Each detail, from the wood tables and chairs, to the Edison lamps and chalkboard menu, delivers that warm feeling of hanging by the campfire. If you’re wondering about the great acoustics, glance upward and you’ll see the original beautiful wood lattice ceiling. But the piece de resistance? The metal tray wall mural.
Though you probably wouldn’t find liquor at actual camp (other than under your counselor’s mattress), Messhall offers an enticing array of cocktails. Some drinks are a throwback to my favorite film, “Mean Girls” (yes, there’s a cocktail called You Go Glen Cocoa), some are inspired by “Ghostbusters” (aka Are You The Keymaster), and others are a nod to the military.
One such intoxicant was so delish that I ordered two, and had to restrain myself from grabbing a third.
The Buffalo Soldier
2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon
.75 ounces Ancho Reyes
.5 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes black walnut bitters
The flavor is strong, smoky, and slightly woodsy with a nice subtle spice to it. In case you haven’t heard of Ancho Reyes, it’s a lovely chili liqueur that’ll massage your mouth with a soothing blanket of burn.
Now that’s worth boasting about back at school.