Hibiscus is a rosemallow by any other name, and there’s hibiscus sprinkled throughout the menu at Rosemallows, Long Beach’s new tropical bar and restaurant from the team behind Beer Belly.
The fun concept with a Miami Vice-like setting takes its name from a scientific term for the colorful flower, and the ingredient finds its way into chicken wings and burgers and other beachy bar bites and sips (all of which are available for takeout and delivery right now). Not to be confused with a tiki bar—there’s one of those attached to Rosemallows already—the drinks here are less rum-forward and more explorative; think fewer by-the-books mai tais and more space for general manager, lead bartender and creative director James Squire to experiment.
It’s the next evolution for Squire and proprietor Jimmy Han, who flipped the Long Beach Beer Belly space in late November. The duo removed a few tables and chairs from the craft-beer destination, adding a pool table in their place and lining shelves with old VHS tapes and vintage boomboxes. Rosemallows isn’t kicking craft beer out of the building entirely, but now you’re more likely to sip a coffee martini featuring house-made horchata than you are a dozen saisons and IPAs.
“I think craft beer—in general—had its moment but now is on its way down,” says Han, “or it’s not that super big draw.” Instead of heading to a beer bar, he says, now people buy straight from the breweries themselves.
So now there are tropical cocktails and an array of natural wines in addition to a few locally-focused craft beers all poured from beneath pink and blue neon.
There are guavas in the margaritas and prickly pears in the daiquiris and mangos in the house punch, with Squire sourcing goods from the farmers’ market at the marina; produce like lemongrass, jujubes and passion fruit from nearby Cambodian food shops; and even satsumas from his own tree (used in a fruity martini, naturally).
Every cocktail runs $12 and can be ordered to-go in tandem with more classic-leaning, rummy drinks from Tiki Tiki—the straightforward tiki bar built onto the side of Beer Belly, which now double bills with Rosemallows for showy, tropical concoctions in the heart of Downtown Long Beach.
“We like to describe the approach as ‘no geographical boundary,’” says Squire. “Kind of honing in on whatever anyone’s tropical nostalgia has been in their lives, so that could be Mexico, that could be a trip to Thailand—whatever it may be, it’s tropical in your mind. With all due respect to all the wonderful places and cuisines in the world, we don’t want to feel limited by any means and we want to celebrate everyone.”
Rosemallows extends that tropical, global mindset to the kitchen with a handful of musubi; garlic fries with wasabi ranch; macaroni salad topped with house furikake; a pineapple-tinged burger; long beans buried under toasted garlic and hazelnuts; and massive fried chicken sandwiches all overseen by executive chef Dustin Prewitt, formerly of Belly Bombz food truck.
What appears simple here involves plenty of method: Prewitt dries hibiscus flowers, steeping them like a tea, then reduces the liquid and adds it to raspberries, jalapeños, maple syrup and brown sugar to form the glaze for the tangy-sweet fried chicken wings. The burger features a house pickled-pepper jam, teriyaki-and-pineapple glaze, muenster cheese and a handful of arugula that’s been tossed with pineapple. That gargantuan fried chicken sandwich? It’s brined with a house-made coconut-and-pineapple yogurt, as opposed to a classic buttermilk, then dredged, fried, topped with miso cabbage slaw, and a slathering of horseradish aioli that—you guessed it—also features hibiscus, or rosemallows.
Eventually the photo booth in the corner will spring to life, the pool table will clack with the sound of play, and creamy cold-brew martinis can be sipped to “Kokomo” and “I’m So Excited,” but for now it’s all tropical drinks, pineapple burgers, hibiscus-laced fried chicken and bottles to-go (a tropical escape by any other name).
Rosemallows is now open at 225 Long Beach Blvd in Long Beach, with hours of 2 to 8pm Thursday to Sunday.
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