"When the Bloody Mary was invented it changed everything. It was the first cocktail that drank like a meal," explains Matthew Biancaniello. "Everything I make is an extension of the Bloody Mary."
It looks like 2014 will be a big year for Biancaniello, the madcap cocktail chef best known for blurring the fine line between food and drink.
Since leaving the Roosevelt's Library Bar in Hollywood a year ago--the place where he defined his unique style of produce-driven cocktails--he's been popping up at various bars, touting bergamot limoncello, stinging nettle gin and tonics and white truffle-laced negronis.
Biancaniello behind the bar (Photo: Dylan + Jeni)
Now, with help from chef Ernesto Uchimura, he's consulting on the cocktail list at Plan Check's newest location on Fairfax.
Alongside burgers with ketchup leather and salmon pastrami with squid ink cream cheese are eye-catching drinks like the Splendor in the Grass ($14)--a bitter refresher made with Chareau aloe liqueur, agave, lime, arugula and truffle salt--and the Fish Out of Water ($12), which combines bonito-infused Scotch, shiso, lemon and a few drops of olive oil.
On Thursday nights, Biancaniello himself is behind the bar at Plan Check, serving tastes of his homemade nocino or pouring stout floats topped with a scoop of mushroom-bourbon ice cream ($12).
In the coming months, Biancaniello hopes to open his own space on the Westside, an intimate bar where cocktail tasting menus will be a nightly occurrence.
"I just got a case of emu eggs from the market: the shell becomes a cup, the yolk gets used for flips, the whites for sours and fizzes," says Biancaniello with a grin. "Or maybe I'll just make some scrambled eggs."