Sherman Oaks friendly neighborhood bar The Oaks Tavern has been serving up tasty cocktails and offering plenty of booze on tap and in a bottle since 2010. Camila Dizon, "The Boss Lady," shares her recipe and story behind the refreshing, hibiscus-infused gin libation, Camila's Little Helper.
Camila's Little Helper
2 oz. hibiscus-infused gin 1 oz. lemon juice 1 small egg white or 3 bar spoons of liquid egg white 1 oz. agave Mint
Garnish: mint sprig
What’s the origin of Camila's Little Helper?
I was on a "gin kick" and was trying to figure out fun new ways to use Nolet's because I liked that they added rose petals to their recipe. I was actually at Starbucks and ordered their "iced passion" Tazo tea and thought, "Oh! This would go really well with the gin" the first incarnation of the drink was actually infused with the Tazo tea, but now we just use the hibiscus.
How would you describe the taste to someone who hasn’t had this before?
Fruity, tart, with a refreshing hint of mint. You can barely taste the gin, so it can be dangerous.
What would be the key component in this drink?
Hibiscus-infused Nolet's gin.
What's the process of infusing hibiscus with gin?
We take a mason jar and fill it 3/4 full with Nolet's, then top it off with dried hibiscus. Let it steep for three days and then remove the flowers.
What component does the egg white bring to the cocktail?
The egg white not only gives the drink a silky mouth feel, but it also helps with that thick white foamy layer on the top of the drink. I recommend actually using a small egg or liquid egg white (3 bar spoons) because you shouldn't taste or smell the egg in the drink, it's really only for texture and the foam.
What reactions do you get from customers when they try this cocktail for the first time?
Mostly "Ooh! That's really refreshing and dangerous."
What are some good dishes to pair this drink with?
Fish always goes well with tart drinks. For me, I would grab some sushi!
Owner and bar manager of The Oaks Tavern, Camila Dizon, shows us how to make this hibiscus-infused gin libation.
What kind of experience can diners have at The Oaks Tavern?
Well, we don't have a kitchen, so it's just drinks here, unless you come on the weekends when we have a food truck. The bar has a very unpretentious feeling, despite offering a large selection of spirits, particularly whiskey and a kick-ass selection of craft beer on tap and in a bottle. The crowd is lively and we have karaoke every night after 10 p.m., which is a lot of fun.
About Camila Dizon
Are you from Los Angeles?
No, I was born in Hawaii, where, by the way, the hibiscus is the state flower. I have lived in Cali since I was five. I spent about three years in Denver in my early twenties and have been back here ever since.
What's your thought process when creating a new cocktail?
A few things go into it, first what would the spirit mix well with, then, what kind of cocktail do we need on the menu? For example, I don't want all tart cocktails, we have a few of each to choose from such as tart, sweet, smokey, sophisticated, etc.
Define the perfect cocktail?
I think a perfect cocktail is well balanced no matter what the flavor profile. You can have a tart drink be too tart, where you can't taste the other components of the drink... likewise with any other type of cocktail.
One thing you love about being behind the bar?
I love that it is a constantly changing beast! New people, new spirits and new ideas for cocktail mixers. I made a clove-cardamom syrup that is amazing, now the fun is figuring out what cocktail it's going to go in.
Are you planning on creating any new cocktails in the future?
We change our menu three times a year and special new drinks as they come into my head.. so YES.
What do you do in your spare time when you're not working at The Oaks Tavern?
When I'm not busy with my 12-year-old son, I play on our Oaks Tavern co-ed softball team, enjoy dining out, visiting craft breweries and hula hooping!