by Kim Tronic, Resident Cocktail Mistress…
If I invited you out for a drink at some local saloon, what would you envision? Gun holsters, swinging doors, and horses waiting outside?
How about a pub? Do you immediately get a craving for fish ‘n chips and a nice frosty pint?
And really, is there a difference between bars, pubs, saloons, and taverns? They share the same mission — to entertain and inebriate customers — but with distinctions like ambience, clientele, and pricing, each destination has served its own purpose throughout time.
Once upon a yester-century, taverns were much more than just local watering holes; they offered lodging and a comfortable place to meet business associates or hang with your family (yes, women and children included).
Pubs (short for “public houses”) emerged from across the pond, and are credited for introducing the bar countertop as a method for servings customers. Up until then, beers were brought out to your table.
Saloons, often run by breweries, doled out beer, free lunch, and good ole’ fun: pool tables, bowling, and darts (and sometimes dancing women).
Considering the giant array of nightlife in Los Angeles, you’ve definitely seen some spots with “saloon” or “tavern” (or “speakeasy” for the ultra-trendoids) jammed into their names, but let’s keep it real: they’re all just bars trying to use a boozy buzzword.
Forward To Forman’s…
Despite my skepticism over the “T-word”, I ventured into Forman’s Tavern in Toluca Lake and discovered a laid-back neighborhood joint that totally stole my heart. With long communal seating, loud music, and semi-pricey cocktails, Forman’s could potentially attract an arrogant crowd, but thankfully it lacks pretension.
The otherworldly décor like the faux fireplace, old-school sled, snow shoes, and beer steins on the wall make you wonder whether you’re in SoCal or somehow teleported to the Adirondacks. And continuing in the no-frills vibe, Forman’s forgoes table service, so you gotta order food and drinks directly from the bar.
The bartender introduced me to my new favorite vegetable (Sriracha brussels sprouts) and an ambrosial new cocktail…
Lavender Fields Forever
2.5 ounces Eagle Rare whiskey
.5 ounces Bigallet Viviana China-China
2 dashes lavender bitters
The flavors are like little 2nd graders obediently waiting in line, ready to take their turn: first comes the whiskey, then floral, and finally orange.
Though Lavender’s ingredients mimic that of a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, it doesn’t have the bite that you’d expect, thanks to a French liqueur called china-china (pronounced sheena-sheena). Made from sweet and bitter orange peels, china-china tastes as if licorice, cinnamon, and citrus had an illegitimate love child.
So next time you’re in the mood for an escape, skip the Hollywood hike and meander through Forman’s Lavender Fields instead.