BATD ON Feb 26, 2014 AT 11:11 am

by Chrissy Iley.

Plan Check Cocktail

Plan Check Cocktail

At the weekend I was delighted to see that Bam-Bou in Percy Street, London, has had a subtle but impressive makeover. More tapas style dishes on the menu, all excellent, a more spacious more inviting dining area and a vibrant new cocktail list.

I was intrigued by a cocktail called the Chihuahua – tequila, beetroot, lemon, agave, and the Green Russian – vodka, avocado, pineapple, lime.

I’ve always loved the idea of retox and detox in the same glass. The idea of eating your drink. And these London versions reminded me of the sheer genius that is Matthew Biancaniello, a pioneer of the foraged cocktail. By this I mean he goes out, picks up some wild arugula, some honey from his own bees, or whatever is fresh at the farmer’s market. Marinates his alcohol and weaves magic.

Matthew Biancaniello

Matthew Biancaniello

He started off at the Library Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, completely untrained but thought the drinks were boring and began to source more exciting ingredients at the local farmer’s market. After a year he transformed the bar and has been in huge demand all over the world as a cocktail chef and menu mentor.

I recently heard that when he came to Los Angeles he worked as an animal trainer – his brother was Michael Jackson’s zoo keeper. But there wasn’t much of a demand for performing chimpanzees on the streets of Hollywood. In fact it was a rocky road that led him to the Roosevelt Hotel.

At one point he set himself up on Hollywood Boulevard swallowing eyeballs and animal brains. His own episode of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here every day. This all had to stop after he ate some raw chicken feet and became very ill. That was the end of extreme eating for Matthew.

Plan Check Cocktail

Plan Check Cocktail

Instead he was able to channel his vivid imagination and nature that compelled him to impress and push boundaries, into his unique blend of cocktail chef-ing. Each one a mini masterpiece. They look so vivid, so vibrant, so fresh. And they taste like no other cocktail.

His flair with flavours is nothing short of genius. He cocktail advised for the menu of an on trend new eaterie on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles called Plan Check. It specialises in smoky chicken, jidori spiced and burgers with a twist. For instance the Blueprint burger has smoked blue cheese, pig candy, fried onions, roasted garlic, steak sauce and pepper cress. There are vegetarian options like stuffed mushrooms with Swiss cheese fondue and crispy kale.

Plan Check however is all about the cocktails. Who else but Biancaniello could create a cocktail called Fish Out Of Water – bonito infused Famous Grouse, agave syrup, lemon and shiso ($12.00). Bonito is tuna flakes. If somebody had said you’re having a tuna cocktail you wouldn’t have believed them. The taste is incredible.

Splendour In The Grass is Aloe liquor, agave, lime juice, arugula, and white truffled salt. The Last Tango – gin, strawberries, gourmet balsamic and St. Germaine foam. The Breeders Cup is vodka, lime, agave, cucumber, apple with smoked salt, beet, horseradish.

Plan Check, Fairfax

Plan Check, Fairfax

All of them are adventures into a visionary mind. Biancaniello has created tastes that have never been tasted before and presents them in heavenly colours. Each one of them exquisite and multi-dimensional. There is no one like him on the planet, yet his influence will revolutionise the drinks world.

He believes you eat your drink. He loves to marinate with whatever he’s foraged that day or finds in the famer’s market. How he puts it together is the equivalent of creating an enchanted palace of taste.

He is in high demand to show up and make a celebrity’s birthday party/wedding celebration unforgettable. He can transfer a restaurant from good to incredible because he simply is an incredible talent. Having him tailor make a cocktail for you is like having him X-ray your soul and create its very own balm.

Matthew Biancaniello’s cocktails at Plan Check, 351 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Tel: 310-288-6500

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