Fresh juice cocktail recipes from Hollywood mixologist and Greenhouse owner Jason Bran
On the heels of opening his NoHo juice bar, Greenhouse, bartender-about- town Jason Bran shows us how to take cocktails to a new level.
CategoryEat & Drink
Sure, fresh-squeezed juice is great in the morning, but it has become so much more than that. Flavorful juice is now the cornerstone of a craft cocktail movement that has proliferated in the past decade. Best news yet: it’s now possible to make those tangy, somewhat healthy cocktails without ever leaving home. Take it from Jason Bran, co-owner of Greenhouse, maker of a wide and interesting array of cocktail- friendly, cold-pressed and unpasteurized juices.
Jason is a veteran of vaunted cocktail bars like The Roger Room and The Warwick and, with his Hollywood Cocktail Co., makes drinks for high-volume events like the Oscars and Emmys. He first partnered with entrepreneur John Chae on Greenhouse at “The Original” Farmers Market on Third Street early last year.
“I felt like it was an opportunity for me to apply this work ethic and respect for ingredient and process outside the realm of alcohol,” Jason says. “Plenty of people drink juice and don’t drink alcohol,” he explains.
Folks lined up for their juice, smoothies and açaí bowls, fueled by fruits and vegetables from downtown’s wholesale produce market. And last fall, the duo teamed with Jason’s trusted lieutenant Chris Wilson to launch a NoHo branch (5235 Lankershim Boulevard).
With brick and reclaimed wood, exposed rafters, a vintage Pig- skin 621 A.D. football arcade game and provocative paintings (star- ring rapper Eazy-E and zombies glued to their phones), Greenhouse has a cool, whimsical vibe.
Instead of crafting seasonal concoctions, Greenhouse features juices they can source consistently, including orange, grapefruit, pineapple, apple and watermelon.
Of course, not all juice is created equal. Jason says, “A lot of things that are good for you don’t taste good and it’s okay because they’re healthy.”
When planning home cocktails to enjoy with friends and family, Jason has advice based on over a decade of bartending experience. Keep in mind: “Fresher is always better. Three days is the window for me. Five to seven is out of range for acceptable flavor.”
For summer, Jason has worked to develop a keg house-made ginger beer and a rarely seen sugar cane juice, a nectar normally found in Vietnamese communities. It’s pretty simple to make these drinks soar—just add alcohol.
Jason’s Cocktail Recipes
1 1⁄2 ounces vodka (recommended: Double Cross)
1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
1⁄4 ounce lime juice or squeeze of lime wedge
1 slice jalapeno
Shake and strain over ice.
Top with 2 ounces ginger beer.
La Puebla Paloma
1 1⁄2 ounces blanco tequila (recommended: Don Julio)
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice 1⁄4 ounce lime juice
1⁄4 ounce agave nectar
Muddle raspberries with juice and tequila.
Add agave nectar.
Shake and strain over ice.
Top with 1-2 ounces soda water. Sprinkle pinch of sea salt “like Emeril Lagasse.”
Garnish with grapefruit peel.
Jason touts O.J.’s versatility, saying, “When oranges taste the best, not super sour or super sweet, you can make them work great with anything, even Cognac.” Start your orange journey with vodka to dial up the fruit’s depth, add something aromatic and top with soda (clear or flavored).
“Grapefruit and tequila is a standard go-to,” Jason says. “Before I understood what tequilas I loved, I always loved acidity, sour and sweetness. A Paloma (see recipe opposite page) is one of the most refresh- ing, summery ways to hang out.”
“Green apple gets a bad rap because of the green apple martini, but it’s a great ingredient,” he adds. Apple juice might not stand up to vodka, cognac or bourbon but pairs well with tequila.
“Fresh pineapple juice, compared to pasteurized juice, is an incredible eye-opener,” Jason says. “The texture’s thicker and can tolerate spice and acids and is an interesting building block. Dole cans are oversweet and one-note, but fresh pineapple juice has an earthy characteristic, ready for gin. Tequila, mezcal and rum all play nice. A little pineapple juice in a daiquiri, add some lime and that’s a vacation right there.”
“Watermelon can be trickier because it takes a lot of juice to have prominent watermelon flavor,” Jason says. “Build around it to help bring watermelon flavor to the surface. Go with vodka or even gin that doesn’t have incredible botanicals.”