Saddle Peak Lodge is not easy to breeze in and out of. Located in Calabasas, away from the bustle of L.A., the restaurant's wood-and-stone accented dining room and lovely outdoor patio are best suited to a relaxed afternoon that melts into a leisurely evening. However, drinkers looking just to get away from it all would do well to sneak away for happy hour, which is 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. Chef Christopher Kufek's food is more affordable during those magic moments, and you can sip on sommelier and mixologist Christopher Barragan's tasty cocktails. You won't find far-out creations made with obscure liqueurs, just straight-forward American classics, like this breezy take on the classic Sazerac made with Brazilian sugar instead of the more traditional sugar cube.
A take on the Sazerac by Christopher Barragan
2 ounces Sazerac Rye Whiskey
1 teaspoon absinthe
A dash of Peychaud's bitters
1 spoonful of acucar (Brazilian refined sugar)
zest of orange
Put Sazerac Rye Whiskey, absinthe, bitters and sugar into a mixing glass. Stir the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Add ice and strain into a single malt whiskey glass. Peel a large piece of orange rind without the bitter pith and squeeze the essential oils into the glass, then rim the glass evenly with the rind before dropping it into the drink for garnish.
Saddle Peak Lodge, 419 Cold Canyon Road, Calabasas. (818) 222-3888; http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com
— Jessica Gelt