Grub Guide

Twelve Outstanding L.A. Bars and Restaurants Bottling Their Own Booze and Sodas

Sotto Pop
Sotto Pop Photo: Sotto

Chefs and restaurant owners are increasingly taking the DIY approach to drink menus, producing their own sodas, bottling their own beers and wine, and conditioning their own evanescent cocktails in glass vessels. This week, Sotto joined the club with the release of its new “Sotto Pop,” bottled cocktails with Italian flavor profiles designed by local bar stars Julian Cox and Nick Meyer. Who else is serving their own branded refreshments and libations around L.A.? Take a look below to learn where you can sip on proprietary potables and thirst quenchers at local restaurants and bars.


Beachwood BBQ and Brewing: The famous Seal Beach gastro-pub and its Long Beach brew-pub recently put its first beer releases out to the retail market. Highlights include a mighty, imperial espresso stout called Tovarish, a “wee heavy” Scottish ale called Full Malted Jacket, and a black saison named Beachwood Six where the grain is smoked using the restaurant’s own barbecue wood.


Bar Ama: Upon opening last winter, Josef Centeno unveiled “Baco Pop,” a self-made soda soda available here and at Baco Mercat in flavors like root beer and chocolate, hibiscus sweet and sour, and ginger, orange, and juniper. The chef also sells a Baco Sweet & Sour mix that can be mixed with soda water or booze as a mixer.

Alma: Ari Taymor’s restaurant provides its own house-made natural sodas, a program first run by Chris Yamashiro, which has yielded great flavor combinations like peach with tarragon and lavendar, vanilla bean and key lime, jamaica and habanero, preserved Meyer lemon, and cucumber and tarragon.


Sotto: The Beverly Hills restaurant just debuted a new bottled cocktail program called “Sotto Pops,” headed up by Julian Cox and Nick Meyer that employs Italian spirits and the slight tickle of carbonation. Flavors include “The Amaro Never Dies” with Amaro Abano, Luxardo maraschino, and evaporated cane sugar, as well as flavors like “Byrrhberry” with seasonal berries, byrrh, agrodolce, and Plymouth gin, and another called “Diced Pineapples” with tropical fruit, reposado Tequila Ocho, feenel seed, and Cocchi Americano.

1886 Bar: One of the very first to bottle and barrel-age cocktails in L.A., this Pasadena bar (under Marcos Tello and Aidan Demarest) regularly turns out remarkable recipes of sealed spirits and fresh fruit like a bourbon and black tea drink with peaches, green apple, rum, and celerey, and a blend of Concord grapes with vodka.

Sassafrass: This Southern-styled bar in Hollywood has an ambitious barrel-aged cocktail program, with bottles of Vieux Carre, Sazeracs, Mai Tais, and Manhattans swaying above the bar on an old dry-cleaner’s track.

Circa: Also designed by Julian Cox, this new Manhattan Beach restaurant features a bottled cocktail called the “Carrie Bradshaw,” with vodka, combier, lime, organic cranberry juice, and citric acid. More bottled cocktails are on the way in the months to come.

Tasting Kitchen: Bartender Justin Pike employs natural fermentation for his bottled-conditioned cocktails, adding yeast to spirits and sugars, then leaving them for a three-week stretch for natural carbonation before adding natural bitters and elixirs for drinks like the anisette, maple, and amaro-aided “Mancini West,” and a tribute to “Hasselhoff” featuring Jack Daniels, Killepitsch, and Pike’s own tonic.


Michael’s: Following the 1993 fire that wiped out his vineyards, Michael McCarty eventually replanted the French Dijon clones vines that really thrived in Malibu’s cooler climate. Today the restaurateur produces a small number of cases of his luscious Malibu Vineyard Rambla Pacifico Pinot Noir, with bottles available at both the L.A. and New York locations of Michael’s and at several Malibu and L.A. retailers.

Fig: Earlier this year, the restaurant at Santa Monica’s The Fairmont released its first Fig-branded wines in a collaboration with La Fenetre’s Joshua Klapper in Santa Maria. Currently, Fig serves its 2010 Pinot Noir at $42 a bottle and a Chardonnay at $36 per bottle.


Sushi Roku: We’re not suggesting Sushi Roku actually hand-bottles their own sake at the source, but it has served a Junmai Ginjo from Fukushima’s Suehiro Brewery for nine years, served at both locations at $68 Junmai Roku.

Nobu: Nobu Matsuhisa’s branded Hokusetsu sake is found exclusively at his restaurant empire, coming from a multi-generation brewer on the Japanese island of Sado. Famously dry and the winner of multiple awards, the sake is stored in titanium containers and is available at Nobu in several different styles and sizes.

Twelve Outstanding L.A. Bars and Restaurants Bottling Their Own Booze and Sodas