Jun 2011

1886 Bar at The Raymond – Pasadena

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

Living in Pasadena has its perks. The weather is perpetually gorgeous, work is a short walk away, the Kung Food Panda lives around the corner, and the cocktails are masterfully crafted at 1886. What more does one need besides sunshine, a short commute, good friends, and booze? Not much in my world.

Opened last fall on a quiet stretch of Fair Oaks, 1886 has become my favorite place to drink in the neighborhood. The ambiance is moody without pretension, the bar bites are sophisticated and delicious, and the drinks are nothing short of stellar.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

The Astronomer and I have visited 1886 a few times since it debuted, and we recently returned as guests of the bar to sample the new spring cocktail menu. Under the creative direction of master mixologist Marcos Tello, the team at 1886 have added 16 new seasonal and regional drinks to the menu.

The bar was staffed by Garrett McKechnie and Greg Gertmenian this evening. Both gentlemen are extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their craft. I found their spirit for spirits absolutely infectious.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

While we perused the food  menu, Garrett brought over a Tequila Daisy 2.0 (left) and a Swedish Crush. Both drinks were from the “seasonal” section of the new menu.

Greg created the Tequila Daisy 2.0 as a play on the classic Margarita using tequila, cointreau, lime, and my favorite element, strawberry foam. Tequila-based cocktails with a fruity twist are my favorite, so this one really resonated with me. Garrett’s Swedish Crush, which incorporated a historic ingredient from the 1700’s called “Swedish Punsch,” included cognac, rum, and pomegranate. It was refreshing to the last drop thanks to the icy mound.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena
In addition to fabulous cocktails, 1886 also offers a selection of bar bites from executive chef Tim Guiltinan of The Raymond. Since we were planning on drinking for the better part of the night, we ordered a few plates to share.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

The “Pork Belly Cured, Pressed, and Crisped” ($9) was served with bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup and an apple, celery, and chili relish. The sweet, fatty, tart, and savory dish paired very nicely with our drinks.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

The most luxurious taste of the night was a foie gras torchon ($12) accented with Indonesian long pepper, braised pineapples, and cilantro pudding. It was served with piping hot bread, perfect for smothering.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

The “Crispy Szechuan Fish” ($10) came highly recommended to us by our server. The Vietnamese Basa, which was skillfully battered and fried, was served with a spicy, sweet, and sour sauce reminiscent of nuoc cham.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

The mildest bite was “Tonight’s Sashimi” ($12), which was albacore with a jalapeno vinaigrette. While I normally love eating slivers of raw fish, I couldn’t appreciate it as much as I usually do because alcohol had taken over my taste buds. It’s not you baby, it’s me.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

Sometime between our first round of drinks and grazing over plates of food, our friend the Kung Food Panda (a.k.a Danny) dropped by to join us. He lives within walking distance of the bar, which I am more than a little jealous of.

Danny started with a bourbon-based Pimm’s “No. 8” Cup (left), which he found “tasty and refreshing.” He followed it up with a Crushed Strawberry Fizz from the seasonal menu. Created by Vincenzo Marianella, the Fizz was made with strawberry syrup, gin, lemon, and egg whites. Danny’s only complaint was that there wasn’t more of it.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

Moving on to round two, The Astronomer picked out a Southern Belle (left) for himself and a Saladito for me. Both drinks were our respective favorites of the night.

Also dreamed up by Vincenzo Marianella, the Southern Belle was comprised of a blend of fresh muddled kumquats and mint mixed with house-made vanilla syrup, Licor 43, and bourbon. My Saladito, which was created by Marcos Tello, was a liquid version of his favorite childhood candy. It was made of mescal, lime, honey, salt, and chile, and served with an actual saladito on the side. I loved the slight tingle on my lips that the chilies left behind.

1886 at The Raymond - Pasadena

To close out the night, Garrett brought over a Brandy Crusta (left), which is a precursor to the Margarita. Made of brandy, curacao, sugar, bitters, and fresh lemon juice, the Brandy Crusta brought a bit of history and a well-balanced flare. For The Astronomer, he made a Monte Carlo, which is a variant on the classic Manhattan.

1886 is the complete package.

1886 Bar at The Raymond
1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105
Phone: 626-441-3136

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10 thoughts on “1886 Bar at The Raymond – Pasadena

  1. I’m impressed with how your pictures came out, considering how dark it is in the bar! Though I guess I’m not that surprised..

    Loved the Pimm’s No. 8 Cup!

  2. Holy shit those cocktails look stunning and delicious. I’ve been searching for a spot in the L.A. since returning from a trip to the South where I could find a really great cocktail and this looks like the place. Even better that it is just 5 miles North.

  3. Yum! I’ve always wanted to go there! And it’s so close too. Want to double date sometime? 🙂

  4. I’m also impressed by the pictures. If I find myself in Pasadena soon, I’ll have to check out the spring (summer?) cocktail menu.

  5. Hey, having the Astronomer and Gastronomer close by is also a bonus for me too!

    1886 is a great spot. Good vibes, chill. We should hang out here more often!

  6. Cathy! I’m so jealous – looks like you three had an amazing night of good food and great drinks! I want to know how you managed to take such wonderful pictures considering the dim lighting situation. (no really – I what to know – haa,haa) You are truly a skilled woman! xoxo!

  7. Everyone – I’m glad you guys liked the photos!

    Quyen – For the drink photos, I stole a candle from the table next to ours. Then, I sandwiched the glass in between the two candles. To take the photo, I made sure to stay really steady and to not include the candles in the field of view. Of course, I also set the white balance. Two candles was enough to properly light the subject.

    For the food, the interior lighting was much to dim, so I shot the food on the outside patio tables. It was kind of a bitch, but I deeply loathe poor food photos that don’t do justice to the chef or the dish. If you look closely, you’ll see that the table surfaces are different for the drink and food shots 😉

  8. I LOVE the drinks at 1886 but wish there were more bar snacky food (affordable, munchable). The food seems a little precious — really restaurant appetizers rather than the kind of food you can eat with drinks or make a meal of. And the portions are kind of small. Still, my favorite bar in Pasadena.

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