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4 4 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t AT THE WEST HOLLYWOOD STAPLE AGO, A-List celebrities indulge in Tuscan dishes by Agostino Sciandri, the acclaimed chef (and name- sake) at Robert De Niro's restaurant, where the actor/owner is notori- ous for demanding nothing but the best and freshest ingredients. The upscale Italian destination has as much staying power as the man behind it, having been in business for 19 years, a feat in the fickle Los Angeles market. There must be a secret to such longstanding success, and Abel Santillian, Ago's Beverage Director, gives us a hint, saying, "I choose solid brands to serve to my solid customers." If It's Good Enough for Brad and Leo . . . Those high-profile customers sip Van Gogh Vodka, served in a variety of classic cocktails behind the bar. The restaurant employs the unfla- vored Van Gogh Vodka in a classic Martini with olives as well as in its own signature flavored Martini. Almost a decade ago, Santillian's boss asked him to whip up some Bellinis—but, he said, "In California, they love vodka more than spar- kling wine." At the time, Apple Martinis were exploding in the Big Apple and Ago had an overabundance of peaches in the restau- rant; Santillian saw an opportunity to create a Peach Martini befit- ting the high-profile guests (and the palates of his five sisters). Now, the restaurant sells up to 18,000 Peach Martinis with Van Gogh Cool Peach annually. "The taste of Van Gogh Vodka is very natural, not fake or syrupy," Santillian says of his choice to use that spirit behind the bar. The res- taurant's cuisine is simple and clean, a perfect match for the vodka's bold, authentic flavors. THE SPIRITED SIDE Picture Perfect INSPIRED BY NATURE, VAN GOGH VODKA PAINTS PALATES WITH A FLAVOR FOR EVERY SEASON by Becky Tsadik PHOTO: DUSTIN DOWNING PHOTO COURTESY OF VAN GOGH VODKA Peach Martini by Abel Santillian, Beverage Director, Ago ◗ 1 oz. Van Gogh Cool Peach Vodka ◗ 1 oz. Peach Pucker ◗ 1 oz. fresh sweet and sour mix ◗ 1 oz. fresh peach purée Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake very well. Strain into a chilled Martini glass and top with a small splash of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with a fresh peach slice. Abel Santillian, Beverage Director, Ago in West Hollywood.

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