To make the umami oil used in the Naked Maja cocktail at the new Duello bar in downtown L.A., heaps of sun-dried tomatoes are macerated and poured into avocado oil before being vacuum-packed and left to meld and leech for five days. All that work for just five drops on top of the cocktail, necessary for what bar director Iain McPherson calls “mouthfeel.”
McPherson, known best for opening the award-winning Panda & Sons cocktail bar in Edinburgh, Scotland, is on a mission to make Duello, the bar inside chef Jessica Largey’s new Simone restaurant in the Arts District downtown, more than just a waiting area for your dinner table. And to do so, he looked to the Arts District’s rich history and perpetual reinvention.
“I easily spent over 100 hours researching the history of the area,” said McPherson, referring to the area, which in another era, was home to hundreds of acres of leafy French Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc vines. . “For a new world country, what I found is that the Arts District had a very concentrated history over a very small space of time.”