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“a woman walks into a bar…” at Mohawk Bend – a great idea on paper but…

on 30/08/11 at 10:31 am

a woman walks into a bar..., Booze News

So Mohawk Bend is the place du jour, the Echo Park habitat for the hip ‘n happening, the Cali-centric watering hole of hegemonic Tony Yanow who clearly wants to be Master of his Universe, the SoCal beer scene. Tony renovated a sadly decrepit theatre on Sunset, sprinkled the Yanow stardust on it and turned it into a nice restaurant and beer bar. Of course, being a beer and boozehound, I couldn’t wait to get over there and hit the bar for one of the 72 taps, and maybe have a cocktail.

The resto is huge but friendly, the food is good but somewhat uneven – the matchstick fries were like eating salted toothpicks for one thing – the waitstaff was super friendly, accommodating and altogether great…oh, aside from the fact that the front hostess wrote down the wrong name and put our party down as 2 instead of 7, which increased the wait about 1/2 hour til we figured out what was wrong. No matter. A bunch of appetizers kept us busy. Oh, the bathrooms are great.

Ok, here’s the problem. Tony’s place in Burbank, Tony’s Darts Away, only serves, one might say, specializes in only California made craft beers…and vegan and non-vegan food. That’s cool. Tony’s Darts Away is a small local bar with a well-curated beer list. One of Mohawk Bend’s draws is that they have 72 taps. You go for 72 taps of strictly California craft beer and you’re going to end up with a Yard House-like beer list and lots of stinkers. It’s not like just because these craft beers were made in California that they are automatically awesome. My friends and I were hard-pressed to find any exceptional beers buried in that list, and if you’re a beer lover, you’ve probably tasted pretty much everything of the style of beer (from California) that you like. I looked for one of my favorite breweries, Russian River, but Mohawk Bend doesn’t yet qualify for distribution so that wasn’t an option.

Being the multi-level booze drinker that I am, I decided to try a cocktail instead. I ordered my usual test drink, a Manhattan, and asked what kind of bourbon they had. “Sorry, we don’t have bourbon. That’s from Kentucky…we only have California spirits.” Alright, I’m game, I’d love to try a California-made spirit…then I’ll have it with rye. Server: “And the cherries are locally made, too.” Terrific. The cocktail arrives in a martini glass, a musty pale gold in color, ice bits floating on top. Did they shake it? Oh well, I sniffed, I tasted, I hated it. Just in case, my taste buds were off, I passed it to my friends to taste. They agreed it was awful. I didn’t ask what the rye was but it was not good. The whole drink was off. California vermouth? Ai yi yi, this California centric idea isn’t working for me. The waiter very nicely took the cocktail back, said he understood completely. Others had complained too about the lack of options. I ordered a beer.

And for a bar that supposedly cares about its beer, at dinner, this unacceptable pour was served…

Excessive foam & beer didn't make it to the pour line

Now for someone who enjoys cocktails and craft beer – I didn’t look at the wine list – this bar makes the limitations so unappealing that I’d be hard-pressed to come back or to recommend it. Maybe they should cordon off a space for us philistines who don’t  appreciate the culture of Cali-centric libations and would like to order a Belgian beer or a foreign bourbon. From the standpoint of developing a customer base, offering great customer service to sustain that base, Mohawk Bend might have to embrace globalization. For now, it’s a curiosity but to sustain a bar business with just these options, well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  But it’s a curious choice.

Mohawk Bend
2141 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Neighborhood: Echo Park

(213) 483-2337


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