Next to chefs, the new superstars of the culinary world are mixologists. And it makes sense. A modern-day mixologist, like a great chef, has a sophisticated palette, an eye for interesting ingredients and a talent for pulling them together and making a cocktail menu sparkle.
These days, mixologists have an appreciative audience, as more of us realize that a beautifully crafted cocktail–made with small-batch spirits and a palate-pleasing blend of handmade syrups, herbal muddles, citrus infusions, fermented teas and other innovative ingredients–is a lovely prologue or coda to dinner at a favorite restaurant or hotel.
Enter Gianna Johns, the talented mixologist at Fairmont Miramar, who created the delightfully whimsical cocktail menu for our newly redesigned Lobby Lounge. The Lobby Lounge, surrounded on one side by floor-to-ceiling glass doors, has become an elegant yet comfortable place to gather with friends or colleagues, with signatures that include “The Miramar,” with Amass Vodka, Hibiscus, Rosemary and Champagne, a drink that became so popular during the hotel’s 100 th Anniversary in 2021 that we named it after the hotel. Or the light and lovely “A Touch of Mink,” with Roku Gin, Cucumber, Sake and Yuzu–a nod to the eponymous hit movie starring Marilyn Monroe that was filmed in our pool. “There are a lot of Japanese inflections on the cocktail menu,” says Johns. “A big part of the inspiration was Soko.” Our new sushi bar, Soko, was named one of LA’s hottest new restaurants by Eater LA.
Johns was born in LA and raised in Sonoma, and her talent has taken her from KissKiss BangBang in Koreatown to luxury hotels such as the Nomad and Miramar. She began working in restaurants in her teens, and never stopped. “I’ve worked in every position,” says Johns. “But once I started bartending, that was it.”
The creative process begins for her with a conversation with the owner or chef, “whoever has the story to tell about the space. For example, the remodeling of the Lobby Lounge has an old Hollywood vibe,” she says. “Once I have an idea of the story they have to tell, I build on that.
“It was important to have a big gin component in the Lobby Lounge,” says Johns, “because it was inspired by Old Hollywood.” So she reinvented and refined classic cocktails like the Martini, and the G&T. For Johns, it’s important to work with small, ethical producers, and she loves to highlight woman-owned brands like L’Aftelier, founded by a woman who was a master perfumer. “She ended up creating edible, essential oils, which she calls ‘chef essences,’ made from herbs, fruits and flowers,” says Johns, “and they are very concentrated.” Look forward to seeing those on the menu soon.
“Now there’s a lot more health consciousness around the bartending industry,” she says, and the infusion of herbs and flowers is a perfect example. With a focus on fresh, natural flavors and top-quality organic ingredients sourced locally, a nod to sustainability, and support shown to artisanal and small-batch producers, the craft cocktails on the Lobby Lounge menu not only tell a great story, they are designed to be savored, sip by sip.