Get nightmares (before Christmas) at Allusion Speakeasy

click to enlarge GRIFFIN SWARTZELL

  • Griffin Swartzell

Allusion Speakeasy, 323 N. Tejon St.,

The former Sakura Speakeasy evolved into this theme-shifting cocktail bar in April 2019. When we stop in, the theme cleaves to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, from the decor to the music and the drinks.

While Corpse Bride plays on the TV, I start my evening with a Dr. Finkelstein — a mix of cachaça, Cherry Heering, Bénédictine, lime and ruby port, served in a smoked glass with a big ol’ ice cube and a pair of lime wheels to represent the name-granting character’s wheelchair. Smoke makes it feel right for colder weather while cachaça keeps it lighter, and there’s a good bitterness and complexity to the drink. It’s arguably too complicated, though, and while I enjoy it at the time, I’m hard-pressed to remember details after it’s done.

I also try the Sally, garnished with a pull-n-peel Twizzler to represent the character’s hair. Pear vodka, ginger liqueur, basil, lime and champagne make up most of the flavor, while butterfly pea adds purple color.

While this drink does look pretty, it too proves busy, and the flavors create dissonance rather than harmony.