Twice a year, the Raymond 1886 reworks its craft cocktail menu for the change of season. (Such as it is in Southern California.) For this year’s fall/winter lineup, new head bartender Jesus Gomez and his crew have put together something fun and truly special. In the space of 11 cocktails, some of them riffs on old classics, others wholly new creations, Gomez et al. take you all around the world. While we don’t recommend you try to go everywhere all in the same evening, as with actual international travel, getting a taste of just one country won’t be nearly enough.
Gomez began his career at The Raymond as a dishwasher, eventually working his way up to bartender, then running the bar he used to back. Along the way, he’s had a number of mentors, like Peter Lloyd Jones, whom he credits with the actual genesis of the worldwide theme, and Pablo Moix, a true seer says Gomez, who called the rise of mezcal long before it truly became a thing. (A heads up from their crystal ball: Cognacs and Armagnacs are the next hot sipper.) Gomez’s respect for his mentor’s expertise is evident, but he has augmented this education by reading widely on his own and performing copious R&D in pursuit of the perfection he is looking for. When you meet him, it’s immediately obvious that Gomez takes his craft very seriously, and his dedication and study have provided him with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history, techniques, and ingredients that go into a proper cocktail.
And proper cocktails are exactly what you’ll get at The Raymond. His crew have all been trained in what Gomez calls “the 25 classic cocktails you need to know.” These include daiquiris, manhattans, gimlets, toddies, and flips—among a host of others. (Gomez actually has hundreds of classic recipes in his head). These classics provide the jumping-off point for several entries on the new menu such as the Hotel Plaza, based on a mid-century bar guide Lloyd brought back from Cuba and, unable to read Spanish, passed on to Gomez, but which required him to translate measurements based on the undefined Cuban “bar spoons.” Just the sort of exploration that Gomez relishes, and for him, what turns a cocktail into a true art form. New creations include the Puku Puku, inspired by bartender Nathan Baker’s visit to Peru, made with Pisco, house-made tarragon syrup, lemon juice, strawberry, egg white, and Amargo Bitters. “A unique experience,” says Gomez.
When it comes to craft cocktails, a unique experience, along with a deep dive into the “spirit” world for those that are interested, awaits you any time Gomez is behind the bar top upon your visit to The Raymond 1886. Just don’t order an Old Fashioned “shaken.” Though he’ll make it just the way you want it, “That’s painful to watch,” says Gomez. On this, and endless other cocktail esoterica, you can trust Jesus Gomez.
The Raymond 1886
1250 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena