© Alen Lin/Blue Cow
From tonic water to blood-orange ginger beer, bartenders are making everyday mixers from scratch as a way to upgrade even the most mainstream cocktails.
At the recently opened Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar in downtown Los Angeles, mixologist Steve Livigni carried out owner Mario Del Pero's vision of a “soda jerk meets retro-bartender” cocktail program. “I’m super into the idea of making ingredients better for you without making it gimmicky,” Livigni says. “The whole menu is made up of things people are familiar with—but done better.”
His cola recipe will even evolve with the seasons. “I wanted to make something that tasted like winter,” Livigini explains of his current version. Emphasizing traditional baking aromas and spices, he flavors sugarcane syrup with whole cinnamon, real vanilla beans, cassia bark and chicory root for caffeine. The syrup took a while to perfect. “My stove at home and the one at Blue Cow are covered with syrup from the pot boiling over so many times. I had to remake it a lot.”