Take a picture of this: the 5 o’clock whistle’s about to blow, and you’re set to do the same to whatever taco stand you’ve been slaving at over the past eight hours in L.A.’s perpetually subtropical climate. There’s one question on your mind, and unless you’re in AA, it’s a fair cop to pose it: Where can I go to get a decent drink or blow the froth off a couple cold ones? Fear not, urbane movers ‘n shakers, the downtown area plays host to plenty of post-work rendezvous points, where everyone from business-types to film development big-wigs get their pints pulled or a pinot pour. We’ve compiled one hot handful for this list, all of which reveal perfect places for cacophonous congregation, whether you’re looking to converse with a cadre of contemporaries or just let off some steam about your boss. – Kevin Byrne
1533 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, Calif. 90046
If you’re keen on getting a feel for the great outdoors but not exactly eager to camp outside for a cocktail, this laid-back libation station on La Brea is a place any booze-nippin’ nature boy or girl would happily call home after a hard day at the office. Now based in a space previously occupied by Lava Lounge, The Woods is an indoor architectural marvel. From its deer antler light fixtures to the soft, chocolate-colored leather upholstery of its seating to the tree trunk tabling to the cedar-block décor, it’s a setting that’d fill any Red Riding Hood or howlin’ wolf with a sense of either wonder or nostalgia. Happy hour runs from 8 to 10 pm, a choice time frame for folks forced to fight the city’s notorious traffic patterns. As for concoctions, the best to try is the S’mores Martini, a decadent treat for anybody with fond memories of being a campfire kid. And, if you feel like plunking down some bucks to put a solid but tasty shot in your belly, try The Hollow Point which (unlike the bullet carried by Mel Gibson in “Lethal Weapon”) won’t blow the back of your head out … but will come pretty close.
515 W. 7th St. (2nd Fl)
Los Angeles, Calif. 90014
Unless you’re an extra strolling the set of Mad Men, it’s a pretty rare sight to see any tie-clipped Los Angeles ad exec quaffing whiskey at the office (that’s why God created desk drawers). But if you want to get a sense of how things were in the old days, when the Don Drapers of the world quietly brokered after-hour deals over two fingers of scotch, then you’ll definitely want to try out this swanky downtown nightspot. Half old school Irish pub and the other half dark-lit punk cigar lounge, Seven G has over 300 high-end whiskeys, rye and bourbon, as well as a dozen ice-cold suds on deck and available for immediate and leisurely consumption. Check out their website for the saloon specials. Beyond that, be sure to get there before 10 pm if you want a seat at the bar; after 11, all’s fair. And a word of warning to shlubs slumming for a quick one: there IS a dress code and it IS enforced. So if you set foot inside wearing a ballcap, shorts, flip-flops or anything baggy, then prepare to have yourself bounced like a used Spalding.
Santa Monica, Calif. 90401
Not to be confused with the hottest spot north of Havana, the Copa has distinguished itself as a mixologist’s dream by managing to come off both flirty and farm-fresh: they use locally-grown and organic produce both behind the bar and in the booze. Unlike the retro-spin more commonly set to the modern cocktail scene, this ultra-blond and bright-lit bar space (planked by Providence, RI-native Vincenzo Marianella) doesn’t believe that everything old must be made new again. Rather, it embraces the new aesthetic of alcoholic beverages – girls with wild streaks will love the Bikini Martini (Sagatiba Cachaça, Limoncello, Passion Fruit) while boys with big taste buds will take comfort in their draft and bottle beer selection (try the Hofbräu lager). And if you’re aching for an affordable happy hour, a separate $5-per-drink menu (featuring everything from a Mojito to a Moscow Mule) is served from 5:30 to 8pm, Tues thru Friday, and all night on Mondays.
6255 Sunset Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 467-9355 6255
Intimate without being insipid, comfortable without being too cool, The Well comes off as both a sexy and sophisticated, thanks to its cozy banquettes and high-walled booths … but when you’re talking about convivial atmosphere, rest assured: The Well is anything but dry. Long hailed for hosting “the best Happy Hour on Sunset,” the staff serves $5 martinis and well drinks from 5 to 8 pm daily. Plus there’s a wide array taste tidbits available from the bar menu should you feel peckish, and if you arrive early enough, you can have your run of the well-stocked juke, which is likely to play everything from Ella Fitz to Eve 6.
6377 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, Calif. 90028
A well-run, no-nonsense nightspot masquerading as a seedy punk dive from the era of Iggy and Sid, this surprisingly clean and jocular joint is devoid of the sort of lean faux-hawked scenesters and posh poseurs who prowl the Day-Glo neon stretch of Hollywood Boulevard. If anything, the crowd is here for the cheer and the cheap eats, both of which are amazingly affordable ($4 for mixed drinks – can you beat that?) if not appetizing. Then again, if the endgame of anyone who comes to a place called Loaded isn’t to get precisely that after work and by closing time, they’re either lying to themselves or missing the point. So if you’ve been freshly spun out of your skyscraper prison and are looking to relax in an upbeat and pleasant vibe, their cool, considerate bartenders are at your service. Besides, where else in this lie-down town can you get a shot, a beer and a cigarette (nearly every vice in the world) for only eight bucks?