September 4: Los Angeles

Los AngelesLook at that mountain
Look at that tree
Look at that bum over there, man
He’s down on his knees
Look at these women
There ain’t nothin’ like em nowhere!

-Randy Newman, “I Love L. A.”

Los Angeles, L. A., the City of Angels, Tinseltown, Hollyweird, La-La Land. Whatever you call El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula, the little pueblo that could, turns 233 today! Founded in 1781 by  Spanish governor Felipe de Neve and incorporated as a city in 1850, Los Angeles is a city that’s survived it all: Earthquakes, riots, mudslides, more earthquakes, more riots, massive fires every year, the O. J. Simpson trial. In fact, Los Angeles was one of the few cities that was not badly hit by the Great Depression, primarily thanks to the motion picture industry. After all, cinema was probably the only industry that didn’t feel a major hit during the Depression.

However, did you know that Los Angeles was very nearly not the Entertainment Capital of the World? Yes, according to legend, in 1914 director Cecil B. DeMille was in the midst of a cross country search to find a place to shoot his western The Squaw Man. Eventually, someone suggested that he go film in Flagstaff, Arizona. DeMille headed to Flagstaff to scout out locations, but when the train pulled into Flagstaff, it was raining hard. DeMille wanted somewhere that would be reliably dry, and so he hopped a train for his second choice, a tiny little farming community near Los Angeles called Hollywood. To think, were it not for that rainstorm, we’d spend every winter talking about all the likely Oscar nominees coming out of Flagstaff.

Thankfully, we don’t live in that terrifying reality. So, raise a glass to the city of sunshine and noir on its 233rd birthday, with the classic Los Angeles Cocktail. It’s a West Coast twist on the Manhattan with a bit of citrus, and just like its cousin the Hollywood Cocktail, some egg whites. See that article for an important notice about the use of egg whites in drinks.

Los Angeles Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz. Whiskey
  • 1/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. powdered sugar
  • egg whites

Shake with ice, and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice.

Tomorrow: Rock’s greatest frontman.


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