Oct. 9th, 2012

L.A. Mixologist Joel Black Redefines "California Fresh"

Black LAB Venture
Photo Courtesy of 2Sense-Los Angeles
The art of mixology blossoms across major U.S. cities. Leading the mixing and muddling charge in Los Angeles reigns Joel Black, Texas native, professional bartender and mixologist. He also claims the title of Angeleno entrepreneur and co-founder of Black LAB Venture. With co-founder Heather Storm, Black and his venture are indeed trailblazing the hot, evolving social requisite. They cater and consult for both corporate and private events along with some of LA’s hippest bars, utilizing their novel “mobile mixology.” Joel gathers the freshest of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and elixirs to mix into spirits of every color and national origin.
 Black LAB Venture

As Joel explains to us at Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, one of his numerous menu-consulting locations across LA, the mixology movement began in 2007. Comme Ca, in the Melrose area of Hollywood, acted as the incubator, humming with the energy from pioneer and mentor, Sammy Ross. Ross hails from New York City’s famed speakeasy, Milk & Honey where he oversaw and conveyed the skills and exploratory compass to go garden-to-glass with protégés Joel (also previously of Three Clubs, Doheny, and Cana) and Julian Cox (Sotto, Riviera, Playa). “I’m known as ‘California Fresh,’” Joel says, “I utilize a lot of herbs, fruits, a lot of crazy vegetables.” Joel’s talk soon turns to walking behind the bar.
 Bourbon Bunny Maker

Methodically lining up bottles of ingredients, Joel mixes one of many we sampled from the diverse cocktail menu he created for the Filling Station. The “Bourbon Bunny Maker,” which also seats Joel in the finals at the Luxardo Cocktail Cup representing Los Angeles, takes on a subtle carrot component, while chamomile infused agave soothes the bourbon bite. His colorful “Spicy Sombrero” hums with the sizzle of jalape?o as strawberry sweetly brings it home. “Coffee and Cigarettes” satisfies with a smoky flavor without the smoke, while a creamy finish makes it a sophisticated take on a White Russian as well as the perfect dessert drink.
 Huckleberry Gin  Black LAB Venture

The “Huckleberry Gin” cools and refreshes with an herbal bubbly fizz. In other words, the quality you’ll find with Black LAB takes luxury to its proper ends. As the sun sets on the patio of Ford’s Filling Station, we not only imbibe on Joel’s courageous concoctions, we fill ourselves on a number of wonderfully fresh and seasonal plates prepared by founder and chef, Ben Ford. Joel says of himself and his friend, Chef Ford, “we’re urban foragers. Ben and I head up into the Santa Monica Mountains…for fresh ingredients growing everywhere. The Los Angeles climate is truly ideal.” He continues, “I pick lavender and rosemary…lemons right off trees, all quite abundant and accessible around here[Los Angeles].”
 Black LAB Ventures specialty cocktails

With efficiency, Black LAB Ventures, perfects its “California Fresh” practice by pre-mixing and uniquely bottling the liquids, something they coin as “mobile mixology.” While still satisfying guests with hand crafted combinations of fresh infusions, this inception slashes service time at bars and lounges like Hollywood hotspot Bootsy Bellows, where Joel created the VIP cocktail menu for catered events such as weddings. Co-founder Heather confidently explains, “We can set up whatever you want. One of the favorites is infused ice cream bars.” Flavors, Joel tells us, include vanilla, cr?me de mint, fresh mint, chocolate chips and rum.
 Black LAB Ventures specialty cocktails

Black Lab offers the bride and groom-to-be customized specialty cocktails for their big day, which draws a celebrity clientele. “We’ll usually outshine the food at events,” Joel says in earnest. And to top it all off, prior to the event Black Lab will come to your home to perform a cocktail tasting tailored to your desires and particulars—pulling out all the stops for their clients.
 Black LAB Ventures

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Eric Rosen
Eric Rosen lives in Los Angeles and writes about food, wine, travel and adventure... usually in some combination of the four. He regularly contributes to Los Angeles...

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