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New cocktails at Casa del Mar's Catch restaurant. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CASA DEL MAR — The days of ordering rum and Cokes or an apple martini are over. It’s time to step it up a notch. Classic cocktails from the Prohibition era are in vogue, with mixologists re-imagining the old formulas, creating drinks that are both satisfying and conceptually refreshing.

While cities like San Francisco and New York have been at the forefront of this movement, Santa Monica is getting hip, and nowhere is that more evident than at Casa del Mar’s Catch restaurant. Bartenders there are serving up crisp, clean and consistent and cocktails that use old-school recipes and fresh ingredients for a new-school twist that satisfies.

I recently was invited to sample these tasty treats and was delighted by the flavors and colors of these cocktails, all developed with the help of master mixologist David Nepove, otherwise known as Mr. Mojito. Nepove with Southern Wine and Spirits trained the bartenders, incorporating some of their ideas into the recipes. The result is cocktails that are made the same way every time, creating consistency that customers expect when ordering their favorite drink. You will never order a drink that is too stiff or watered down. Everything is properly measured so that the flavors mesh perfectly.

I did the dirty work and sampled nearly every cocktail on the menu and have my favorites, including the Fedora Punch, a sweet and sour concoction that uses Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, Courvoisier VS, Makers Mark, Grand Marnier and some lemon sour with soda. It is topped off with a lemon twist and fresh raspberry. With all that liquor combined, you would think the drink would be overbearing. But it wasn’t. It was delightfully drinkable. I ordered two.

Another of my favorites was the Misdemeanor. This thirst quencher features 2 ounces of Patron Silver tequila, some Green Chartreuse, lime sour, pineapple and, this is where it gets interesting, a slice of raw jalapeño. Muddled pineapple and jalapeño help give this cocktail a spicy, but yet sweet kick that meshes well with the warm, woody flavor of the tequila.

These drinks take a little longer to put together, and they cost more than a simple screwdriver, but these spirits are worth it. The drinks are addicting, rarely overbearing and don’t leave one feeling groggy or ill in the morning.

kevinh@smdp.com

If You Go

Casa del Mar

1910 Ocean Way

Santa Monica, Calif. 90405

(310) 581-5533

www.hotelcasadelmar.com

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