If you’ve been enjoying the global cocktail boom of the last several years, you have Dushan Zaric to thank. The Belgrade native moved to New York City in the 1990s and worked in several high-profile Manhattan bars before opening his own establishment in 2004, the now legendary Employees Only. He and his partners came up with what was at the time a very novel idea: to re-imagine the classic drinks of the 20s and 30s (Old Fashioneds; Sazeracs; Sidecars) and serve them in a dimly lit lounge with Art Deco flourishes and a speakeasy feel. The bartenders wore white chef jackets and served their meticulously mixed concoctions with impeccable manners. Employees Only was an instant success among discerning New Yorkers, leading to countless look-alikes around the world in the following years. While Zaric was not the only pioneer of the craft cocktail movement, he’s one of its most visible and energetic faces. Now based mostly in Los Angeles, Zaric teamed up with Hotel Figueroa to create a series of restaurants and bars where the art of the cocktail takes center stage.
The thread that runs through all these spaces is a dedication to making guests feel relaxed and taken care of.
The hotel’s renewed Spanish Colonial style inspired both the look and the menu at Bar Figueroa, the grand lobby lounge. Here, Zaric came up with a series of elevated gin and tonics, or gintónicos (the preferred drink of Madrileños), made with house-infused gins and high-quality tonic waters. "Spain in the largest consumer of gin and tonics per capita, and I think it’s because it pairs so well with their pinchos and tapas," says Zaric. "It's a long refreshing drink—fizzy, botanical, and a little bit tart." One of the six options, called Ford’s, is made with British Fords gin infused with grapefruit peel, pink peppercorns, and lemongrass, paired with East Imperial yuzu tonic. A similar selection is offered at Breva, where chef Casey Lane serves Basque specialties like squid a la plancha. At Veranda, the breezy poolside restaurant, casual Mediterranean dishes go hand in hand with a menu of amaris and aperitivos like the Milano Torino, made with Campari, Martini Rossi vermouth, and seltzer. Then there’s Rick’s, a tropical themed bar serving, among others, an authentic Cuban mojito, packed with fresh mint and topped with Angostura bitters. The thread that runs through all these spaces is a dedication to making guests feel relaxed and taken care of.
“There’s a culture of one-upmanship right now in the bar world,” says Zaric. “But not everyone understands what brings guests back, and it's not just the drinks, it’s also the attitude that being of service is a privilege.”
To learn more about Hotel Figueroa or the hotel's cocktail program, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.