Victor Drai’s New West Hollywood Steakhouse Elevates the Bar & Lounge Experience with Sophisticated Design, DJ, Indoor/Outdoor Seating and the City’s Best Cocktails
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA.(Spiritsman)35/14/– – Feb. 2014 – Victor Drai’s new restaurant, Rare by Drai’s on Sunset Plaza, has quickly set a sexy, sophisticated tone for the new steakhouse by offering not only the best cuts of steak with sublime service, but also by re-imagining the entire experience, starting with the distinctive bar and lounge. The bar at Rare is a dynamic indoor/outdoor space led by acclaimed mixologist Chris Hewes. Unlike other steakhouses, the bar and lounge at Rare is not merely a waiting space before dinner; it is designed to be the social gathering spot on Sunset Blvd. with its 33 seats, DJ and access to the Rare patio.
Lifting the bar to new heights, Hewes (formerly of the Library Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt), has created a cocktail menu that flows from savory to spicy to refreshing – blending the freshest ingredients with Hewes’ eclectic and artistic viewpoint. Hewes has earned a reputation as one of the most passionate and creative mixologists in the city, and he proves it again at Rare with a seasonally evolving menu that currently features: Interview with the Vampire (Akvinta Vodka, Arbol Chili-Infused St. Germain, Berries and Jalapeno); Black Dahlia (Black Mission Fig-Infused Pisco, Arugula and Ginger Beer) and The Victor-EE (Rambutan & Lychee-Infused Vodka Martini).
Beyond his signature drinks, Hewes is focused on creating distinct infusions, fashioning cocktails and beverages that can only be found at Rare’s bar. “At Rare we have fig-infused Pisco, strawberry vodkas, Arbol chili-infused St. Germain and Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, persimmon-infused gins, chamomile-infused Jameson and pineapple-infused tequila with Creme de Violette,” explains Hewes. “I love making infusions; they allow me to experiment with different flavors and find new and interesting ingredients that work well together.”
Following in the footsteps of his famous bartending father Jim, Hewes brings a knowledge and point-of-view that sets him apart in the world of crafting cocktails. “I learned the trade from my dad so I have a great understanding of the classics, but also bring my own spin to the bar with new concepts and modern interpretations of traditional drinks,” explains Hewes. “It’s been fun to create this program in a steakhouse setting.”
With his history of pouring the most interesting cocktails in Los Angeles, Hewes answers a few questions
on his concepts for Rare by Drai’s
Explain the single cube concept in your signature cocktails. Some of the drinks you created for Rare use herb-infused cubes?
The one ice cube is to chill the cocktail without diluting it. It allows you to really enjoy the flavors of the cocktail. My goal is to have different flavors of ice cubes and infused ice cubes to change the cocktail as it is being consumed. I want the flavors of the drink to blend with the ice cube. Instead of just having a vodka and cranberry, why not have a Cranberry Liqueur, pomm juice and fresh cranberry cube combined with great vodka? We want to put fun twists on the standard drinks.
You don’t use simple syrup in any of your Rare drinks; what is your sweetening process? How does this enhance the drink?
I’m always looking for alternatives to the common “simple syrup.” Different honeys, agave nectar, stevia, rice nectars and other natural sweeteners are what I like to use in all of my drinks. I find the cocktails to be much more balanced when using these alternatives to “simple syrup.” Nobody wants a really ‘sugary’ cocktail.
What items used in your Rare cocktail menu are your own signature concoctions?
I would say that my infusions are the most distinctive drinks on the menu. I enjoy finding the right balance and mixture of fresh fruits and spices, and mashing them up with liqueurs and different alcohols. Most people haven’t had the combination of ingredients that I use in my infusions… from pineapple to jalapeno to persimmons mixed with tequilas, gins and vodkas. There is always an element of surprise and intrigue.
All the Rare cocktails seem to balance heat with sweet. Is that good for food pairing?
I feel as though each cocktail pairs well with at least two items on the food menu. I wanted to compliment the amazing food with properly made and well-balanced drinks. The spicy cocktails are perfect with steaks and the seafood; they put a little pep in your step and really get you thinking about food. When creating spicy cocktails the goal should not be to burn someone’s palate or shock them with too much heat. The goal is to have the heat as one aspect of the drink and to have other flavors come in to relax that spice. Each drink should have layers and take you on a trip from the first sip to the last.
Which of your Rare cocktails is your favorite?
To be honest I love all the drinks with respect to each of their alcohols. But the KGB and the Rare Manhattan are probably my two favorites to drink. Although it’s always hard to pick, I like these two because they feature a twist on well-known classics. For instance, the KGB stands out because of the chamomile-infused Jameson. It’s recognizable, yet feels new and bold.