Monday, April 22, 2024

Selva has one of the most culinary-focused cocktail programs in Long Beach

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As we push toward celebrating Long Beach Food Scene: Last Call—a 10-day, 15-event celebration of our city’s rich bar culture and the people who make it happen—we will offer a series of features that highlight everything from our most stellar cocktail programs at restaurants to to the very events occurring (like this profile on Selva)… All in order to lift a glass to a social and economic driver that rarely receives the love its deserves: our bar industry. For more information on Long Beach Last Call, click here.

Selva—which just celebrated its second anniversary—is already well known as a culinary gem under the direction of Chef Carlos Jurado: Scoring the restaurant a coveted spot on food critic Bill Addison’s annually 101 Best Restaurants list for the Los Angeles Times, Jurado’s has begun to flex his more experimental skills in the kitchen while staying true to the space’s original intent.

And that intent has always been simple: Reflect the food of Colombia while also distinctly being the food of Jurado himself—both welcomed and distinctly unique in the food scene of Long Beach, where Mexican food has long dominated the Latino food market and Salvadorian, Guatemalan, Honduran, and other Latino foods have not received the accolades of its Mexican sibling.

And in this sense, Jurado knew that cocktails—which are distinctly culinary yet never receive that very spotlight—were essential in creating his space. This is where mixologist Mike Borowski comes in.

At Selva, the cocktails are as important as the food—if not a direct part of it

Borowski, the cocktail master behind Selva’s stellar bar program, had been a barback long before he ever formally stood behind a bar—and it is in that sense, his approach to creation has long been steeped in always being the apprentice first, understanding that learning, honing, and pivoting is clutch to having a successful cocktail program.

“Doing all that barbacking, I was lucky to have been under some really stellar bartenders,” Borowski said. “Being a barback, you can stumble into a lotta shitty work or just outright work under an awful human. And when I stepped into the mindset of anticipating what the bartender needed rather than just learning a recipe, I began to grasp a sense of both proactiveness and also studying off the clock.”

And in that vein of luck in terms of working with and learning from bartending veterans, he shares that with Jurado, who is as active in the workings of the bar as he is the kitchen. (This isn’t to mention their much-missed, way-too-short-of-a-life-span endeavor that was Bar Envie, which was abruptly closed just as it was finding its footing and patronage.)

“Chef Carlos is always tasting my cocktails because we genuinely want them to pair with the food,” Borowski said. “Of course, we’re not going to bark if you come in just for drinks but the larger point is to have drinks with food, enjoy them together.”

This approach has given Selva the title of having one of the most wide-reaching array of flavors, where sweet and tart play on an even playing field with savory and umami.

Selva will also feature an exclusive Long Beach Last Call menu

Borowski has created a three-cocktail menu which will be exclusively featured through the stretch of Long Beach Last Call, Mar. 1 through Mar. 10.

They include…

Verde Brilliante: Don Fulano Reposado | Gustoso Mexican Rum | Chartreuse | Lulo | Lime


San Andrés: Blended rum | Agricole rum | Banana liquer | Guanabana | Lime


El Vicio: Palo santo-infused Colombian rum | Fat-washed Aguardiente | Panela | Bitters


Wait–you mention “Long Beach Last Call.” What is it?

After the success of my restaurant week last year during August, Long Beach Food Scene Week, bar owners and tenders rightfully asked: “What about a week for us?”

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So I decided to oblige and present Long Beach Food Scene: Last Call, a ten-day long celebration of Long Beach’s amazing bar culture, it’s even more amazing workers, and the industry that often goes without recognition as one of our city’s largest economic and social drivers. 

Thanks to my collaborators—Scott Lennard of RNDC and Chris Lewis of Nosotros Tequila y Mezcal—we’ve created some 15 events across the ten-day span on Last Call. To say the least, we’ve worked our asses off and we hope you’ll come out and celebrate with us (that is, if we make it to Day 10 alive).

And Selva is a part of that—so go order a drink.

Selva is located 4137 E. Anaheim St.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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