Note: Examiner.com unpublished the last Los Angeles Cocktails Examiner article written by Aaron Vanek. You can read it here.
The Spare Room and Caliche Rum
by Shawna Waldron
Growing up in Los Angeles, Glendale to be specific, I am ashamed of myself, deep down, for not knowing about the Spare Room. Even though I lived five blocks away in Hollywood for ten years, I had never known about the hidden two lane bowling alley right above the entrance to the Hotel Roosevelt. Despite years of taking people to eat THE best burger in Los Angeles at 25 Degrees, I never knew the Bowling Alley modeleled after “There Will Be Blood”, best scene ever, was right above my head.
I was shamed by my friend, Aaron Vanek, who invited me to Monday night’s Caliche Rum games tournament. I couldn’t believe something so mid-western was coming out of the Roosevelt, but walking into the hotel I had no idea where to go and was excited to find this secret gem after years of feeling like a regular.
The second I saw the giant 40’s style mahogany doors, with the handle in the middle, I felt like I was back in time. The space is small yet spacious with a classy cabin-ish feel. It’s intimate and dark but nicely lit by the bar’s orange glow. The waiters and waitresses are more than beautiful; mixed with the décor, they had a style to them that makes you feel like you’re not anywhere near Hollywood even though you’re right in the heart of it.
Immediately I was in the middle of watching a Monday night bowling league. I was so envious of the suspender-clad champions as they drank down delicious looking libations and conquered the lanes. Even though I couldn’t bowl, I was soothed. The Spare Room’s gaming night brings tournaments of Jenga, Connect Four, and other games that take you back to childhood. The music was a little loud but a good mix—just an excuse to get closer to someone’s ear.
What I was most anxious to get down to were the personally crafted drinks mixed by Naomi Schimek. On Monday nights they serve four signature Caliche Rum drinks, pronounced cal-ee-chay. If you’re gonna twist my arm about it, I guess I’ll try all of them…
Being a whiskey lover, I was shocked to find the depth and richness I love in a darker rum in the clear Caliche. It has heavy vanilla under notes, almost Chai like. There’s a distinct difference between neat, (how I like my booze) and on the rocks, (both good). I recommend getting one of the crafted cocktails but if you must have neat, go with a rock or two. It’ll allow the rum to release its hidden spicy, fruity undertones. Remember, this rum’s still an adolescent. This beauty is aging in barrels as we speak and I can’t wait to see what she matures into.
If you go to their website you can see them aging in Puerto Rico, where creators Rande Gerber and Roberto Serrallés produce the sugary stuff. This rum has been six generations in the making exclusively from the Serrallés family distillery. Below are the concoctions Naomi crafted for them. I found something for every drinker’s palate.
THE SHINING STAR
Caliche Rum, Passion Fruit syrup, Fresh Lime, Green Chartreuse, Egg White
The fact that it’s served with a lime wedge on fire is pretty great too. This one’s like a sweet dessert and is going to be easy to kick back quickly. The rum is subtle but strong, and the egg white gives it a thicker texture, complimenting the lime.
Caliche Rum, Carpano Antica, Applejack, Bitters
I thought this was going to be my favorite drink. I really love my whiskey neat. The Whist is perfect for the whiskey connoisseur. The rum and bitters create an almost allspice flavor, while the applejack rounds it out with a mildly sweet after finish. It almost tastes like you should drink it on Christmas, but a cold night will do.
Caliche Rum, Fresh Lemon, Simple syrup, Bitters, Club Soda
I need to drink this on a hot Louisiana night, it’s a perfect lemonade. I think we all used the word refreshing almost immediately. The club soda gives it a nice tickle. Lemon and rum, it’s so simple, this one’s a great reminder that sometimes that’s best.
JAZZ IN A GLASS
Caliche Rum, Fresh Pineapple and Basile, Housemade Orgeat, Fresh Citrus and a float of Medium Fino Sherry
Hands down my favorite drink on the menu. Who would have thought basil would taste this amazing? I had never heard of orgeat until tonight; it’s a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange flower water. The blend was so good; the pineapple was the perfect glue, and you can float that Fino on it all night, it was deliciousness on steroids.
The Spare Room is great on other nights too. You can bowl from 7pm to 1am right next to the signature round-tipped windows on the Hollywood strip. The handcrafted bar menu is fantastic, as well as their food. I devoured the burger with caramelized onions on sourdough bread. The Roosevelt really knows their burgers.
However unless you work with an exclusive brand like Huff or Skull Candy, you’re probably not going to be on the Monday night league any time soon. But Monday is buzzing and way mellower than a Friday. The Caliche rum menu is definitely worth a taste; I’m sure Naomi is more than happy to mix one of their creations for you on any other day of the week.
On an ending note, I highly recommend the hidden photo booth at the end of the night. As you leave, look for an indentation along the wall to your right. What seems to be just a bunch of apothecary boxes indeed contains a little room that has probably seen more action than Marilyn Monroe’s villa. Myself added to that list.
May the strikes be with you.