SLS Hotel’s Mad Scientist-Mixologists

By Lanee Lee

The SLS Hotel bartenders would make the likes of Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison proud.

Head bartender Rob Floyd and his team of experimental bartenders are much like these inventors as they tinker in the liquid “lab” of the Bazaar‘s Bar Centro inside SLS Hotel. These mad scientists-mixologists, use chemistry such as atomizing, aeration, vaporizing, fractional distillation and combustion, to push the traditional definitions of a cocktail.

With one of the world’s most imaginative chefs at the helm, Chef José Andrés, it’s no surprise this quest for enlightened libations is fostered and encouraged here. If you’re lucky, Chef Andres may just make an appearance to whip up his famous Whiskey Sours with Johnny Walker Blue Label.

Like using only the best whiskey for a whiskey sour, quality reigns supreme by utilizing the world’s finest liquors with edible flowers, herbs and uncommon fresh fruits. The menu changes every four months to incorporate seasonal flavors but there are over 100 cocktails not on the menu you can order as well. Bazaar’s Bar Centro bartenders, such as Mike, Conor, Oakason and Jessica, have as many tricks up their sleeve as the Great Houdini.

For example, the Uva Bella of gin, lime and grape essence, only known to those who became early converts to the SLS ways, is still a favorite off-the-menu cocktail after 3 years of it vanishing from the menu.

Of the Bazaar’s newest cocktails, the Smoke on the Water cocktail, devised for a regular who likes his scotch, is a liquid Cirque de Soleil. The drink’s smoke flowing from the bulbous glass looks like Mount Vesuvius erupting of blackberries, scotch, Islay mist and a bit of flame.

Created by bartender Oakason, the Oakason & the Little Peach is exclusive to SLS Hotel as it features the exotic tiny, green Japanese peach momokoochan. SLS Hotel buys the entire harvest to ensure exclusivity. I can picture Molly Ringwald’s character in Pretty in Pink sipping on this blush rose cocktail topped with an edible flower.

The Grape Tour, named by Chef Andrés himself, features Merlot eau-de-vie (a clear fruit brandy popular in France), fresh grapes and a Spanish Tempranillo wine float. This is an ideal cocktail for the palate that prefers wine but is willing to take a risk.

Although SLS Hotel is hallowed ground in reverence of molecular manifestation, the Bar Centro’s bartenders won’t make you feel like a lowly peon if you simply want a dirty martini. A woman next to me ordered one but was open to experimenting and got a frothy version with truffle salt accents she absolutely was in awe of. After the affable Rob Floyd had won her confidence, she got zany and ordered the Spanish Golden Ale of Amontillado Sherry, gin, chocolate bitters, gold dust, tonic water and lemon essence.

They also offer new classics, playful twists on traditional cocktails, like the salt air margarita, liquid cherry Manhattan and cotton-candy infused magic mojito. Even the ultimate gin and tonic was a delicate masterpiece of Hendrick’s gin, Fever Tree tonic sprinkled with fresh herbs like juniper berry and chamomile flowers.

Not to be missed is Bazaar’s caipirinha made tableside. A cart rolls up and the show begins of billowing smoke via liquid nitrogen to create a boozy slushy eaten with a spoon.

Whether the Bazaar bartenders are blow torching foam or giving a recommend on the best Sherry to pair with your foie gras sliders, their main ambition is to royally spoil you. A night out at the SLS Hotel Bazaar = So Long Sadness, hello happiness.

SLS Hotel, 465 South La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048