With 10 ArcLight Cinemas locations so far, and more to come in the future, movie-goers have become accustomed to an experience that both transcends the traditional theater mode while preserving the essence of film immersion. Certainly, a large part of this can be attributed to ArcLight’s forthrightness in being genuine with its patrons. This is reflected in the chain’s real-butter-topped popcorn — of which there is a marked difference in taste compared to competitors — in addition to the fantastic food and groundbreaking alcoholic beverages that are offered.
Inclusive of the latter are a delicious set of 7 cocktails (at $12 each) that recently debuted at the ArcLight Santa Monica location (and so far available at the Culver City and Sherman Oaks locations). These creative and vintage-film inspired cocktails, which have been undertaken in conjunction with cocktail-consulting hospitality group, Proprietors LLC, have not only changed the cocktail game, but re-imagined the theatrical experience into something grander than ever before.
The 7 cocktails include “The Duke,” “Emerald City,” “Double Down,” “Big Trouble,” “Treat Yourself,” “The Eliza,” and the “Endless Summer.” Of these, “The Duke,” which is an homage to John Wayne in more ways than one, is the most popular seller thus far. Comprised of Bulleit Rye Whiskey, it is a raw, masculine drink of a beige tint with pleasantly peculiar caramel undertones that are a result of carefully chosen ingredients, notably the pecan bitters. On the lighter but still potent side, infused with a compelling kick of spice, is the “Big Trouble” – a whisky sour with a slice of fresh ginger that at first resembles a lemon-flavored drink before taking hold with a ginger-tingling aftertaste.
On the refreshing end of beverages is the “Endless Summer” that is tropical in taste and in appearance with its aqua blue look. Needless to say, it is quite fun to drink — so much so that one might be in danger of finishing it too soon. Moreover, “The Eliza,” primarily an effervescent champagne cocktail, has a touch of fruitiness via the inclusion of lavender and Bartlett Pear, and is for the life-loving and celebratory-minded. And then there is the novel, must-try dulce drink called the “Treat Yourself,” which, as the name suggests, is half-dessert, half-cocktail but, all in all, a total treat. With hand-whipped cream at the top, the full explosion of flavor isn’t gathered through the senses unless thoroughly sipped through the foam where the rum sits. Though a whipped mustache is inevitable, it will keenly surprise with its very unique juxtaposition of palate-exciters.
Proprietors LLC partners David Kaplan, Alex Day, and Devon Tarby deserve much of the credit for the cocktails, but it is Tarby who has been the leading architect behind a process that has had its fair share of challenges.
“A lot happens on paper, and it’s important that it reads well. Flavors have to be easy to read, as we wanted to keep things rooted in a classic structure and offer a variation on the old-fashioned by fusing familiar flavors with lesser-known ingredients. For example, ‘The Duke’ and ‘Double Down’ are classic alcoholic beverages; and the ‘Treat Yourself’ is like a White Russian meets a Grasshopper and a Stinger, as it is rich and decadent, but not cloyingly sweet,” reflects Tarby, whose personal favorite of the 7 is “The Eliza.”
ArcLight Cinemas Beverage Coordinator, Paul Rush, has similar sentiments about the cocktails – which essentially underscore the agreeable personalities and teamwork that went into the new cocktail menu.
“For all of us, it has been about distinguishing between what is specific, but not pretentious. We wanted to round out these cocktails and introduce people to new ingredients they may not otherwise try,” echoes Rush.
Still, even though food and beverages continue to evolve in wondrous ways at the ArcLight, it should not supersede the pure engagement of any movie. Steven Ramskill, who is the Director of Food & Beverage of ArcLight Cinemas, and has helped open 5 ArcLight locations in the last 18 months, wholeheartedly believes that the food-drink and film realms should not completely merge, like they have at other luxury theaters that utilize servers inside the auditorium. And by not subscribing to in-theater dining, ArcLight Cinemas can allow the two experiences to be maximized individually and complementarily without having one infringe on the other.
In confirming this ethos, Ramskill says, “We believe that the power of film can transform and and create an environment of immersion by removing barriers. Most distractions have to be removed for people to be fully present during a movie, and it’s easy to pull someone out of a film with in-theater dining. My job is to have our guests enjoy their food and drinks, and to give guests a choice that doesn’t interfere with their fulfillment of a movie. In a world with already so many distractions, we are of the assertion that when people visit the movies, they want to escape, not be reminded of such distractions.”
For more information, visit arclightcinemas.com