Food & Drink

6 Creative Cocktails to Sip in West Hollywood—Or Make at Home

Get the recipe for a fun night out (or in), courtesy of WeHo’s top mixologists.

West Hollywood wears its creativity on its sleeve—and on its cocktail napkins. 

A new book, Once Upon a Cocktail, showcases the city’s innovative mixology scene with drink recipes from 54 West Hollywood venues. Curated by veteran bartender Sarah L.M. Mengoni and brought to life by illustrator Katie Brightside, each recipe also serves up juicy historical nuggets from West Hollywood’s bar culture—from the rock ‘n’ roll antics of the Riot Hyatt (now the Andaz West Hollywood) to tales of lesser-known (but no less legendary) drinking holes.

Whether you’re heading out or staying in, gather up some friends and get a taste of West Hollywood with these six creative cocktails.

1. Vegan Daiquiri Jello Shot

Vegan Daiquiri Jello Shot. Illustration by Katie Brightside.

Created by: Sarah L.M. Mengoni
Mixed at: La Peer Hotel

The Boil:
Simple Syrup:
(Good for one month in the fridge. Enough for one batch.)

Combine 1⁄2 cup sugar with 1⁄2 cup water and bring to a simmer; stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and then remove the pan from heat.

The Prep:

  • Cut five limes in half from end to end. 
  • Score around the edges of the limes with a knife then scoop out all of the pulp, leaving just the shell. Save that pulp and the shells! 
  • Using a tool with a sharp rounded edge, such as a peach-pitting spoon or a triangle corer*, scrape out as much of the white pith as you can from the shell. Take care to not tear or make any holes in the shells. (*See for example.)
  • Juice and fine strain enough of the saved pulp to get 1.5 oz of lime juice.

The Mix:
(Makes 20 shots)

  • 3 oz water
  • 1.5 oz lime juice
  • 2.5 oz simple syrup
  • 2/3 tsp agar agar
  • 1⁄2 pinch salt
  • 2 oz Appleton Estate Signature Rum 
  • 1 oz Kalani Coconut Liqueur

More Boiling:

  • Combine water, lime, simple syrup and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Slowly add the agar agar while stirring constantly.
  • Once mixed, remove from heat and add the Appleton and the Kalani; stir. 
  • Let cool for 15 minutes.

The Wait:

Pour mix into lime shells and put in the refrigerator for an hour and a half, or until properly set.

The Process:

After the jello is completely set, cut each of the 10 lime shells into halves with a sharp knife to make 20 individual shots.

Excerpt from the Book: 

“‘In the ’90s, jello shots were everywhere, often served in brittle plastic cups that you had to tongue out to consume,’ says the drink’s creator, Sarah L.M. Mengoni. ‘It was clumsy, kind of gross, and sometimes the plastic would break and pinch your tongue. We all thought they were great! The more modern, elevated Daiquiri Jello Shots were part of a 1990s nostalgia cocktail menu I created for the La Peer bar. My mission was to create something that was sophisticated to ingest, vegan, and tasted like an actual cocktail.’

2. 1542

1542. Illustration by Katie Brightside.

Created by: Tobin Salas
Mixed at: Le Parc at Melrose

The Boil:
Simple Syrup:
(Good for one month in the fridge. Enough for 10 cocktails.) 

Combine 1⁄2 cup sugar with 1⁄2 cup water and bring to a simmer; stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove pan from heat.

The Prep:

  • Juice and fine strain one lime (enough for one cocktail). 
  • Juice and fine strain one cucumber (for a few cocktails).

The Mix:

  • 1.5 oz Old Harbor 1542 Gin 
  • 1 oz cucumber juice 
  • .75 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • 1 large slice of jalapeño

The Process:

  • Put the jalapeño in a mixing tin and muddle.
  • Add other ingredients and shake with ice.
  • Double strain into a double old fashioned glass half rimmed with tajin and filled with ice.

The Fandangle:

Garnish with a sliced cucumber on a skewer.

Excerpt from the Book:

“Built in 1972 as a three-story apartment building, Knollwood House included a recreational tennis court on the roof. Until the City of West Hollywood built the marvelous Aquatics & Recreation Center, it had one of the only roof courts in WeHo.

The building was transformed into a hotel in 1979. Today, Le Parc has many things to celebrate, including the artwork by Charlie Edmiston, Scott Hile’s ‘LOVE’ mural, and the recent interior design refresh by Waldrop + Nichols Studio.

To appreciate the full spirit and glamor of Le Parc, take in the city skyline poolside while sipping on the 1542 craft cocktail, made with what most of the Hollywood elite drank during prohibition, gin!”

3. Somebody to Love

Somebody to Love. Illustration by Katie Brightside.

Created by: Conrad Pratt, Sebastian LaCause and Quinn Coughlin
Mixed at: Stache

The Prep:
Ginger Syrup:
(Good for two weeks in the fridge. Enough for 10 cocktails.)

  • Peel and chop an 8 oz piece of ginger. 
  • Run ginger through a juicer (if you have to use a blender, add just enough water for the ginger to blend). 
  • Strain the juice and combine with the amount of sugar equal to the liquid output (for example, if you get 4 oz of ginger juice you would use 4 oz of sugar). 
  • Stir or shake until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.

Green Juice:
(Enough for 5-6 cocktails; any you have left over, drink the same day while it’s fresh!) 

  • Fine strain then combine the following:
    • 1.5 oz cucumber juice
    • 1.5 oz celery juice
    • 1 oz kale juice
    • .25 oz turmeric juice
    • 1.5 oz filtered water
  • Juice and fine strain one lemon (enough for two cocktails).

The Mix:

  • 2 oz Casamigos Blanco Tequila
  • .75 oz ginger syrup
  • 1 oz green juice
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes Scrappy’s Fire Tincture

The Process:

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice. 
  • Strain into a rocks glass over ice.

The Fandangle:

Garnish with Bulls Blood Micro Greens.

Excerpt from the Book:

“8935 Santa Monica Boulevard was built in 1923. In the 1950s, it housed a bar called Barrel followed by a high-end French restaurant called L’Etoile before Café d’Etoile took reign for 36 years. Stache opened in 2021.

The name Stache derives from the word mustache, recalling the iconic ’70s and ’80s facial trends amongst gay men. The name is both a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community’s resilience and a tribute to those who died with AIDS.

All the hand-crafted cocktails at Stache are named after songs, including ‘Somebody to Love’ by the Queen of mustaches himself, Freddie Mercury!”

4. Paradise City

Paradise City. Illustration by Katie Brightside.

Created by: Emilio Lourdes
Mixed at: Andaz West Hollywood

The Wait:
Coconut Infused Casamigos Reposado:
(Good for at least one month in the fridge. Enough for 11 cocktails.) 

  • Mix one 750 ml bottle of Casamigos Reposado with 1⁄2 cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes. 
  • Place the infusion in the fridge, agitating it 1x/day. 
  • After two weeks, pour it through a fine strainer and then through a coffee filter.

The Boil:
Cinnamon Syrup:
(Good for one month in the fridge. Enough for eight cocktails.)

  • Put one roughly broken up cinnamon stick in a sauce pan and toast over medium heat.
  • When the cinnamon becomes aromatic (about two minutes), add 5 oz water and 1 cup raw sugar.
  • Increase heat to high and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat when sugar is dissolved.
  • Once mixture is cooled, pour through a fine mesh strainer.

The Prep:

  • Juice and fine strain 1 lime (enough for one cocktail). 
  • Juice and fine strain 1⁄4 of a pineapple (enough for 10 cocktails). 
  • Crush ice; a Lewis bag and a heavy muddler work great for this.

The Mix:

  • 2 oz coconut-infused Casamigos Reposado Tequila 
  • .75 oz cinnamon syrup
  • .75 oz fresh pineapple juice
  • .75 oz lime juice
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

The Process:

Shake all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour over crushed ice into a tropical-style glass.

The Fandangle:

Two pineapple fronds, a rosemary sprig and a torched cinnamon stick.

Excerpt from the Book:

“There is a difference between acknowledging the past and being held hostage to it. Andaz, with their contemporary renovations, pays homage but also breaks free from a time in history when it was known for the chaos and debauchery that shaped its identity and earned the nickname Riot Hyatt.

The legendary song ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was already a few years old when, on tour, Led Zeppelin’s entourage occupied the sixth floor in this hotel. During their stay, John Bonham famously rode a motorcycle through the corridor and both Keiths (Richards and Moon) threw TVs from high-rise windows.

In 1984, the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap filmed their end-of-tour party on the roof. And in full life cycle (life imitating art), scenes from Cameron Crow’s 2000 film Almost Famous were shot onsite with refurbished décor to match the original 1970s design. In 2022, Amazon’s Daisy Jones & the Six repeated Crow’s history and took over the venue for a modern adaptation and homage to an  ‘unnamed’ infamous rock band from the ’70s.

These antics held a whole-lot-of-love for decades—five of them. Through it all, the Andaz proves to honor all music: past, present and future.”

5. Pea Diddy

Pea Diddy. Illustration by Katie Brightside.

Created by: Heidi Wittekind and Kristina Cox
Mixed at: Tesse

The Wait:
Pea Husk Juice:

  • Remove peas from 8 oz of English peas.
  • Soak the empty shells (can substitute snap or snow pea pods) in water for 24 hours. 
  • Juice (in a blender, 8 oz of pea shells yields 3 oz of juice; a juicer will yield more).

The Prep:
Mint Syrup:
(Good for one month in the fridge. Enough for eight cocktails.)

  • Put 4 loosely packed tbsp of mint in boiling water for 45 seconds; pull mint from hot water and place in an ice bath.
  • Once it’s cold, blend the blanched mint with 3⁄4 cup simple syrup, fine strain, and then strain again through cheesecloth.
  • Juice and fine strain one lime (enough for one cocktail).

The Mix:

  • 1.5 oz Kástra Elión Vodka
  • .25 oz Svöl Swedish-Style Aquavit 
  • .25 oz Meletti Anisette
  • 2 oz pea husk juice
  • .75 oz mint syrup
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz soda water

The Process:

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice.
  • Add 1 oz soda water, then strain into a footed highball glass filled with fresh ice.

The Fandangle:

Garnish with all things pea: Tendrils, butterflied snap peas, pea flowers.

Excerpt from the Book:

“The tagline from vodka brand Kástra Elión is ‘A myth is in the unmaking.’ Their name in English roughly translates to castle and olives. To unmake their vodka, you’ll find it is sourced from Greek olives grown in a grove that overlooks a castle from the owner’s ancestral home.

Name play is also a staple for the cocktails at Tesse. The original menu featured a Melon DeGeneres and today, under the creation of Heidi Wittekind and Kristina Cox, you can seasonally sip on the Pea Diddy or Bad Bunny!

Tesse is a derivative from the French word délicatesse. Before this dynamic and inclusive space was constructed from the ground up, the marquee of the 1958 former building read ‘Dino’s Lodge.’ Dino’s took the nickname, likeness and caricature of Dean Martin and was featured in the opening sequence of the TV series 77 Sunset Strip. In 1966, east of Dino’s, we would have seen the Seawitch, and to the west, the Tiffany Theater. In 1977, the movie theater became the original place where you could dress up and watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Tiffany sign can be found today at the Valley Relics Museum located in the San Fernando Valley.”

6. Blackbird

Blackbird. Illustration by Katie Brightside.

Created by: Rexx Cano
Mixed at: Norah

The Wait:
Thai Basil Gin:
(Good for at least one month in the fridge. Makes enough for four cocktails.) 

  • Mix 1⁄2 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves with 5 oz Bombay Sapphire gin. 
  • Let sit for two days then fine strain.

The Boil:
Blackberry Thai Basil Shrub:
(Good for two weeks in the fridge. Enough for eight-ish cocktails.)

  • Heat 5 oz sugar, 5 oz water, 5 oz blackberries and .25 oz Thai basil in a pot until the blackberries are easily mashable.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes, then thoroughly mash blackberries with a potato masher.
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Keep the blackberry/basil pulp for the next part of the recipe.

Blackberry Salt:
(Keep in a sealed container and store in a dry place; good for quite a while.)

  • Put the blackberry pulp onto a piece of parchment paper, then flatten evenly with a rolling pin. 
  • Place the parchment paper on a sheet pan and bake at your oven’s lowest setting; dehydrate until dry. It should take at least eight hours. (You can use a dehydrator instead, if you’re fancy!).
  • Freeze for at least two hours, then blend into a fine powder.
  • Mix the powder with an equal amount of sugar, half the amount of salt and a pinch of citric acid.

The Prep:

  • Juice and fine strain one lime (enough for one cocktail). 
  • Juice and fine strain one lemon (enough for six cocktails).

The Mix:

  • 1.5 oz Thai basil-Infused Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin 
  • .5 oz Strega Liqueur
  • 1 oz blackberry Thai basil shrub
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • .25 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz brut cava

The Process:

  • Combine all ingredients except cava and shake with ice.
  • Strain into a rocks glass rimmed with the blackberry salt and filled with fresh ice.
  • Top with cava.

The Fandangle:

Garnish with a skewered blackberry and a dehydrated lime wheel.

Excerpt from the Book:

“‘In any restaurant, true hospitality and a sense of welcome should always come first. I want to treat guests in my restaurants the way I treat people in my own home,’ explains Norah’s owner, Rohan Talwar of IB Hospitality, in VoyageLA magazine. ‘I wanted to create an unpretentious, inviting environment with high design and genuine warmth.’

Norah is a local gem sitting behind an unmarked door with enough space inside to swing from its rafters. The interiors are designed by next-door-neighbor Thomas Schoos, who is no stranger to this property; the award-winning Schoos also designed the space for 8279 Santa Monica Boulevard’s former tenant, O-bar.

The building was constructed in 1937 and has since been home to many, such as Jimmy Fly’s Trap Café, Try Later Bar, Cheers, Al Capone’s, Felt, O-bar, Don’t Tell Mama and Norah, which opened in 2016.”

Hand-drawn cover art for "Once Upon a Cocktail," a recipe book featuring 54 cocktails in West Hollywood.

Learn more about Once Upon a Cocktail by Katie Brightside and Sarah L.M. Mengoni at

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