I recently had a chance to kick it for a bit with Alex Hernandez, he of the legendary Alex's Bar in Long Beach, home to True Blood's Fangtasia and some of the best underground bands and punk legends this side of, well, anywhere at this point. He was sitting at the bar, testing the cocktails made by bartender Bradley. The divinely dank Alex's has slowly joined the craft cocktail game, and longtimers are fearing that their dive will soon hipsterize forever.
Not to worry: while Hernandez is a hard-ass for quality--"You know what's missing from this drink?" he told Bradley after sipping a vodka-based affair. "Grapefruit zest"--his anarchic sensibilities will never leave. Just take the Black Sleep of Khali Ma.
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Alex is smart. He knows people like me, who grew up watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom nonstop on KTLA-TV Channel 5 during the 1980s, will immediately order this for nostalgia's sake. He knows that customers will see the overproofed rye, the port syrup, and the lemon juice and figure it's just a novelty drink, then get wowed as the muskiness of the port, the tartness of the lemon juice, the searing beauty of the hot rye uniting to settle on the palate. Alex knows that the drinker will order another, then come back next week for the latest drink special. And he knows that the drink is the "new" Alex's summed in a lowball glass: still awesome, still inventive, and punk as fuck.
Alex's Bar, 2913 E Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com.