Tuck Hotel

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Often times when people ask me about good hotels to stay at in LA, I kind of draw a blank. As a local, I always hear the names of places and have been in the lobby bar of a few of them, but how many hotels have I actually seen a room in? Probably about 3. That tells me I need more staycations! So when my friend Molly Schoneveld from This Yuppie Life invited me to come check out the new Tuck Hotel downtown with her, I jumped at the chance. If the color palette of the decor is any indication, this place is right up my alley! It's a small, quiet spot which in my opinion is exactly what you want in a hotel, but offers a nice bar (only open to guests) and a chic yet laid back restaurant which serves amazing bites.

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Molly and I met a few months ago at an event but I had known her blog which I discovered when I was searching Pinterest for the best boutique hotels in San Francisco (answer: The Battery if you can afford it, Hotel G if you can't - we stayed at Hotel G on our recent trip). Molly had done an aweseome roundup about the former for her Stylish Stays series, and I immediately loved her tell-it-like-it-is approach to chic hotels and fashion. Follow her if you don't already! She's a gem! Thanks for having me along for the ride, Molly! 3R1A2887 copy

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Dress is old Alice & Olivia but Shopbop has some great alternatives. Shoes are old too from BNKR.  Clutch is this one.

Photography by Ashley Burns

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Martinis With Pharmacie

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I've always had a thing for crafted cocktails and have tried my hand at many over the years. But I have so much respect for the true professionals who not only know the classics like the back of their hands but can come up with new concoctions that are geniusly experimental yet extremely palatable. Talmadge Lowe of Pharmacie is one of the goodies. I remember when he and his team of dapper bartenders started serving cocktails at a lot of events around LA, and when I would spot a bowtie behind the bar, I knew we were in for a night of quality craft cocktails. I recently had a chance to hang with Tal at HiLo (check out my feature on that here if you missed it) and martinis were on the menu. Today he's sharing two versions with us: the classic, and his own take called the Starlet. I think it's time for a martini renaissance, don't you?

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First, a little history lesson... "The origination of the Martini is a bit unclear, as many things are in the history of cocktails. It may be a direct descendant of a cocktail called The Martinez, created near San Fransisco in the 1860s. It may be be named after the Italian vermouth brand or, maybe a bartender from New York. We’ll never know. But what we do know is that a cold glass of gin and vermouth have stood the test of time. We’re still talking about them, we’re still drinking them.

As with it’s history, it’s recipe is also a subject of debate. I give mine here. It’s the way I prefer to drink them, but you will be the ultimate judge as to whether your palate requires more or less vermouth. Or an olive...

3R1A3826 copy THE MARTINI

3oz Gin 1 oz Dry Vermouth Combine ingredients over ice into a cocktail carafe or mixing glass and stir steadily for 45 seconds. Strain into a cold (straight from the freezer) cocktail glass. I prefer a Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

For gin, I like a solid London Dry (Sipsmith for example or even Plymouth) but the New American gins (Spring 44, Barr Hill) are playing with herbs and botanicals in a whole new way and if you are not a traditionalist like me, I suggest you take that route."

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What's the inspiration behind the Starlet? "The Starlet cocktail stared with my dislike of dirty Martinis. I wanted to create a”clean” martini that deviated just slightly from the original recipe. I also wanted the cocktail to remain boozy and decidedly aromatic. Mint seemed right for that brisk, crisp, clean note and vodka for the non-gin drinkers. We kept the vermouth, as is.

The name came from an image I had of Marilyn Monroe or some other young starlet opting for one of these at Ciro’s, instead of the traditional martini.

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3R1A3922 copy THE STARLET

3 oz Vodka 3/4  oz mint syrup* 3/4 oz Dry Vermouth

Combine ingredients over ice into a cocktail carafe or mixing glass and stir steadily for 45 seconds. Strain into a cold (straight from the freezer) cocktail glass. I prefer a coupe for this one. Add mint leaf garnish.

*Combine equal parts water and sugar (I cup of each) in a small pot and heat until the sugar dissolves.  For mint simple syrup, add 4-5 bunches of mint to the syrup while hot and let steep for 2-3 hours. Always let it cool to room temperature before using. Refrigerating over night is preferred."

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Thanks so much to Tal and HiLo for having us and showing us all the ways of the world of cocktails! I might just have to make this a monthly series. You know, research.

Photography by Ashley Burns

Midland Gal

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When I really fall in love with something, I love it hard. It becomes my main source of inspiration and I obsess on an almost annoying level (well, annoying to others perhaps - I have no problem with it). Midland shop in Culver City is one of those things for me. My ridiculously stylish friends Paige Appel and Kelly Harris of Bash Please (one of LA's most killer wedding and event planning businesses) opened up this shop late last year and while I knew it was going to be good, I didn't expect it to feel like a new home. OK that's a bit dramatic, but it's kind of true. I can't go without staying for at least 2 hours. Probably a total inconvenience for everyone there but myself and Sailor who just settle right in.

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3R1A3239 copyWhen Midland opened, I was in the middle of a total style slump. I was wrapping up my first year as a mom (we all know how that goes for trying to be a stylish person) and I just wasn't feeling inspired. I had been doing the majority of my shopping online for the past couple of years which was making me look at fashion in a different way that was a lot less fun. If I was going to buy something, I would spend hours scouring the same old websites and felt like it was tedious work rather than a fun way to try new things and get excited about style. I was also trying to put my finger on exactly what my style IS now, and wasn't really landing anywhere. I'll talk about this more later but I honestly feel it's worth mentioning here because it's all related. I was just in style purgatory...

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(My mom's Elm Street Textiles bloomers in the adorable kids' corner!)

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(You need this lip balm! It's $5 and I like it better than my $60 La Mer one.)

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Midland's distinct, carefully curated style was that something new I needed to take a closer look at and dip my toe into. It's one thing and it's a lot of things at the same time. It's handcrafted, Americana, southwestern, artisanal, authentic, and creative. It's all sorts of things you didn't know you needed until you're there taking it all in and realizing how badly you NEED them. Someone described it as the best kind of cult and I can definitely attest to that. I love how they introduce me to a new designer or coffee maker, and yet keep things on a level that doesn't feel untouchable or standoffish. Price points stay in a reasonable range , yet you can find amazing one-of-a-kind, local, handmade or vintage finds. Nothing worse than going to a store that feels downhome and warm, only to be chased out by a $100 mug or a $700 around-the-house dress.

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I'm so proud of what these girls have created so I just had to share it with you guys! I figured you might be curious since it seems like the only store I shop in these days as I continue to strive to be a true Midland gal - effortless, rebellious, artistic, and natural. Every purchase I've made there has become an instant fave in my closet/beauty routine/home, but most of all I love how the shop inspires me to expand my style! Thanks so much to Kelly for hanging with me (Paige was out of town that day) and can't wait for my next visit as always. My mom is in town so we may even have to pop in today!

Photography by Ashley Burns