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When it comes to nightlife, all that glitters isn’t gold. There is more to Los Angeles beyond Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard if you know where to look. A plethora of hidden nightlife bounty exists, offering more than just a place to have a drink. The real treasures create an experience rich environment with the power to transport people to another place. Behind unassuming exteriors and in off-the-beaten-path locations are where the diamonds in the rough lie. If the idea of a night out on the town has lost its sparkle, here are a few places that will help reignite the flame.
EP & LP
603 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Offering stellar views from the rooftop lounge and a great open kitchen, this happening outdoor bar and indoor restaurant is one of the best spots in L.A. for not only dining, but also drinking. From its tasty southeastern Asian fare to its vast cocktail menu, it’s one of the best hotspots to see and be seen at right now. EP & LP offers edibles like soft shell crab buns and nachos made with coconut cream chicken. The cocktails are equally exotic. From rum and whisky flights to specially cocktails and more, it might be tough to select from due to its enormity. From the “L.P. Pimms Cup” with gin, sweet vermouth, fresh lemon and lime, cucumber, strawberry, fresh mint and ginger to the “Sunset in Rosarito,” you can’t go wrong with whatever drink you choose here. You can even order some of these great cocktails by the pitcher to enjoy with friends. One of the best highlights though is the rooftop, which is open until 2am every night of the week. Make sure to take in the views because they’re quite possibly the best in the city!
1233 N Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90038
What do you get when you fill a space featuring an unremarkable exterior with a reconstructed Savannah townhouse? A grown up version of Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion” ride. Set within an interesting Southern-style bar, you can’t miss the dry cleaners rack above the bar, refashioned as a glass bottle holder, and even the details in the lavatory with an old-fashioned toilet with a chain pull flush. Sassafras has brought back barrel aged cocktails from the 1880’s. It’s said that the aging process mutes harsh tones, allowing faint notes to sing their high notes on the tongue. You’ll be much obliged to sip on old-time inspired drinks that you’d find in days past.
10797 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
A shave, a haircut…and a martini? Blind Barber is a one stop shop for those looking for a secret-style spot that is sure to have you looking and feeling great. That is if you can find the place. You won’t find any signage outside of Blind Barber except for an old fashioned barber pole which marks the spot. Enter and you’ll find inside a standard barber shop. But, the real fun begins through the secret door in the back which leads you to a bustling speakeasy featuring handcrafted cocktails including the sweet ‘Strawberry Fields’ and the spicy ‘Smoke and Dagger.’ Bar munchies including truffled popcorn and a stellar grilled cheese selection make Blind Barber worth seeking out. It may not be new to the LA scene, but it’s still as popular as ever.
The Walker Inn
3216 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Situated on the edge of Koreatown, and accessible through The Normandie Club, The Walker Inn is quite possibly the most popular drinking spot in Los Angeles right now. With its speakeasy atmosphere, a mix of great drinks on its exotic cocktail menu and its central location, LA residents keep are raving about this bar. Featuring a secret door, guests here are offered two choices: a two-drink minimum, or its omakase style drink menu. The bar, which can be described as quite intimate with only 27 seats, is a hideaway where talented mixologists and barkeepers will help you choose from their great menu of cocktails.
Harvard & Stone
5221 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Come for the drinks, and stay for the show at this Thai Town fave where it’s always a party. Featuring a classic décor and 360 bar, Harvard & Stone is the ideal spot to sample a rotating menu of menu of innovative libations. While H&S attracts a solid roster of DJs and live bands, the real fun begins on Friday and Saturday nights with its famed burlesque show reveals itself. It’s no wonder this is one of the hottest bars in Los Angeles. You won’t find much signage outside, but once you find it in East Hollywood, you’ll be glad you stopped by.
1936 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
One of the newer spots to the LA bar scene is Downtown LA’s Everson Royce bar. Sometimes confused for Pasadena’s Everson Royce Wine & Spirits, this is a bar that is open nightly from 5pm to 2am. Situated in the Arts District, the bar is thanks to the people behind the great Siverlake Wine shop. What’s good? Well, everything of course. But, cocktails like The Paper Plane, a bourbon based drink with Aperol and amaro, is great. The list of cocktails here might be small, with just about 10 cocktails, but the bartenders can cook up just about anything you want. Using great ingredients, and fresh juices, ask the bartender to create you something, or opt for something standard. They’ll create anything your heart desires!
1727 N. Hudson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Houston Hospitality has established itself as one of the dominant players in the Los Angeles nightlife scene, pairing “is this for real?” settings with a standout cocktail program. Case in point: No Vacancy, an expansive Victorian-style mansion hidden amongst the tourist trap watering holes that dominate Hollywood. Be prepared for a surprise before you enter (no spoilers) as well as potential long lines on weekends. Once inside, grab yourself a drink, explore No Vacancy’s numerous rooms, and make yourself at home.
118 E. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Cole’s isn’t simply the home of the (potentially) original French Dip sandwich. It also houses The Varnish, one of the pioneers in L.A.’s now ubiquitous modern speakeasy/craft cocktail movement. Tucked away in unmarked room at the back of the restaurant, The Varnish will transport you back to a time when the cops might bust in for the illegal sale of hooch at a moment’s notice. All the old standard cocktails are yours for the drinking, but try giving the bartenders a sense of what you like and they’ll shake or stir something up for you that’s sure to please.
7321 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Situated at the eastern edge of West Hollywood, Harlowe is yet another jewel in the 1833 Group’s crown. The refreshingly unpretentious space with a classic old-Hollywood feel is ideal for enjoying quality versions of familiar cocktails such as an Old Fashioned and Moscow Mule complete with housemade ginger beer. However, don’t sleep on Harlowe’s original concoctions. The Mezcal-based ‘Hot for Teacher’ certainly lives up to its name (at least the “hot” part) while the ‘Evening Shade,’ featuring Laird’s Apple Brandy and chamomile syrup, would make Burt Reynolds proud. Show up early to avoid the crowds and take advantage of Harlowe’s bargain happy hour.
The Avalon Hotel
9400 W. Olympic Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Located inside the 1950s-style boutique hotel The Avalon, Viviane is a rare treat thanks to the Kelly Wearstler designed interior. A restaurant too, the bar is a great place to snack on some of chef Michael Hung’s modern California interpretation of classic European and American cuisine, while sipping from a well-curated cocktail list that includes everything from a gimlet with Tanqueray Old Tom Gin, and lime cordial, their ‘Vesper’ with Russian Standard Vodka, Bombay dry gin and Cocchi Americano or any other type of drink you want. You may think you’ve stepped back in time.
1356 Palmetto St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
With a location amidst industrial warehouses adjacent to the Los Angeles River, finding this place is like a dirty secret waiting to be revealed. If you think you’re going the wrong way, you probably are, until you approach the oasis of sparkly lights that, like a flare in the inky darkness of night, lets you know you’ve arrived. Villain’s Tavern is an indoor/outdoor venue that features live music to enjoy while imbibing on house libations served in Mason jars. The design elements serve as eye candy to suit a variety of tastes from apothecary to gothic to western outlaw and punk. Inside of this perceived chaos lies a well-orchestrated stroke of genius that makes this bar a true destination worth making the journey for.
1533 N La Brea Ave
Hollywood, CA 90028
If you find yourself in Hollywood with a hankering for the great outdoors, head over to a nondescript strip mall on La Brea where you’ll discover The Woods. By the looks of things, it is by far a contradiction in its classification as a dive bar. The scene? Cabin chic. Cedar planks stacked up like Lincoln Logs from yesteryear, antler chandeliers overhead and tree trunk tables beside rich earth hued banquettes. It’s even got fiber optic “stars” glittering on the ceiling, adding to a setting ripe with conversation sparking ammunition for first date goers.