Welcome to The Normandie Club, my new favorite place to have drinks!
Upon entering you get the feeling that you have discovered an oasis from the bustle and grind that is Los Angeles, and certainly Koreatown; where the establishment is located. It’s sophisticated, relaxing and pleasing to the senses. The lighting scheme is soft and dim from brass lighting fixtures.
The dark wood and dark brown leather booths and stools glow from the candlelight. There is a whitewashed brick wall that gives the joint that slight edgy feel, appropriate for LA.
It’s extremely inviting.
There is an emphasis on contemporary twists of classic cocktails here, and I was quite fond of their extensive whiskey and bourbon menu. Most certainly, The Normandie Club is a lovely way to start your evening, or a place to stop by on the way home from work for that “one” drink.
I advise that you go on the early side as it gets crowded and loud around 10:30 pm on the weekends. During the week I am going to go out on a limb and say you are probably going to be fine whenever… possibly except Thursday nights.
They make a mean drink, but the true joy is the atmosphere. It’s as if you checked into a five-star hotel and decided to have that “one” martini before heading to bed. You aren’t in LA.
You are not even in the United States. You aren’t anywhere else but here.
THE WALKER INN
Inside The Normandie Club is The Walker Inn; a private, reservation only, omakase-drinking experience like nothing I have experienced before. It made me truly appreciate “mixology”. What Katie and Kelvin do behind the bar, and in the back with their chemistry set is truly astounding.
For those of you who are not familiar with the term “omakase” it is a Japanese phrase that means “I leave it to you.”
This term is usually associated with sushi restaurants. You sit down and you eat whatever the chef brings to you. The gist being that the chef knows what is best and you shut up, and you enjoy.
There is a element of respect, trust and blind faith that comes with this, but not too much, because word of mouth or printed praise has brought you there in the first place.
The door to the private room is by the restroom area. You press the button for entry at your appointed time and you are greeted and brought to the bar – which only has six seats. With a six course drinking experience that lasts anywhere between 2-3 hours.
There are only 12 people a night getting this opportunity.
The one thing that they do that differs from omakase, is that you have your choice of one of three different drink menus. So you do have influence over what kinds of alcohols and mixes you will be drinking.
These cocktail offerings are themed and change every 6-8 weeks. The theme for this evening was inspired by the movie, Wet, Hot American Summer.
The drink menu I choose was “ADVENTURE TIME” and the drinks that came with that selection were as follows:
Field Trip: Pear Brandy, Pisco, Pineapple, Raspberry, Lime Juice, Amaretto
Farm Stand: Carrot, Celery, Brennivin, Lime Juice, Dry Vermouth, Ginger
Beth’s Going To Town: Scotch, Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Amaro, Apricot
The “Field Trip” arrived in a brown paper bag with my name written with a Sharpie pen. Inside, was a plastic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle container filled with goldfish and a Superman plastic sippy flask.
The combination of liquors in this drink did give you that fun, fresh, sweet “fruit punch” flavor you liked as a kid at camp.
I felt five again.
I mean come on how cute is this!!!!
The next drink on this list takes you into another direction, all together. The “Farm Stand” is like having a vegan, fresh pressed juice cocktail… and its awesome. The flavor that comes through the most is carrot and there is even an organic carrot in the drink!
The last drink on the list, “Beth’s Going to Town,” was inspired by the sequence in the movie where the counselors go off into town for the afternoon and raise holy hell. The drink comes on a metal tray with a rail of cocaine (powdered sugar).
The ingredients to this drink (see above) are very classic and I appreciated ending with something unique but familiar as well. This is the type of drink you want to end the night with. The Amaro (an Italian Digestif) and the apricot were the components that truly defined the flavor and experience of the cocktail.
Now, what also makes this experience so badass, is that while you are waiting for these three drinks you are also served three, secret, drinks that are just as awesome and surprising as the ones you have selected.
My favorite of the three was the very first cocktail I tried. It didn’t have a name (at least not in my recollection), but it tasted like a orange cream soda. It was made with clarified orange juice, vanilla vodka, sherry and then it was carbonated. It came served with a slice of dehydrated orange to eat as you sipped, and it was fantastic.
All of this for $65 per person plus tip. Not to shabby. Not too shabby at all.
I will be returning to The Walker Inn. Again. And Again.