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Hidden Gems in Los Angeles: Nightlife Edition

December 28, 2015 9:00 AM

main photo sassafras Hidden Gems in Los Angeles: Nightlife Edition

(credit: sassafrasssaloon.com)


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.
sassafras Hidden Gems in Los Angeles: Nightlife Edition

(credit: sassafrassaloon.com)


Sassafras
1233 N Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Neighborhood: Hollywood
(323) 467-2800
www.sassafrassaloon.com

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.

(credit: Blind Barber)

(credit: Blind Barber)


Blind Barber
10797 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 841-90232
www.blindbarber.com

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.

(credit: Harvard & Stone)

(credit: Harvard & Stone)


Harvard & Stone
5221 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 466-6063
www.harvardandstone.com

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.

(credit: Eric A./Yelp)

(credit: Eric A./Yelp)


Everson Royce
1936 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Phone:(213) 335-6166
www.erbla.com

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!

(credit: No Vacancy)

(credit: No Vacancy)


No Vacancy
Hotel Juniper
1727 N. Hudson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 465-1902
www.novacancyla.com

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.

(credit: Yelp/Chris C.)

(credit: Yelp/Chris C.)


The Varnish
118 E. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 265-7089
www.213nightlife.com

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.

(credit: The Walker Inn)

(credit: The Walker Inn)


The Walker Inn
3612 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 263-2709
www.thewalkerinnla.com

Clubs are karaoke aren’t the only late night options in Koreatown. The Walker Inn, found via a secret door inside The Normandie Club (which is another must visit), offers a quiet respite from the bustling K-Town after hours scene. While walk-ins are accepted, reservations are suggested for the 27-person capacity bar which is capacity most nights of the week. The menu, which changes, regularly, revolves around a theme which includes drinks inspired the comedy cult-classic “Wet Hot American Summer.” Tapping into L.A.’s sushi obsession, patrons also have the options of an alcoholic “omakase,” featuring a menu of drinks catered to their personal preference. Omakase refers to leaving it up to the bartender to select what you drink, which can make it a pretty fun experience! Whether you end up with the Big Sur, complete with fog effect, or the creamy “In N Out,” The Walker Inn is sure to provide an experience like no other.

(credit: 1933 Group)

(credit: 1933 Group)


Harlowe
7321 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 876-5839
www.harlowebar.com

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.

(credit: Lauren T./Yelp)

(credit: Lauren T./Yelp)


The Fiscal Agent
11801 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 623-8088
www.thefiscalagent.com

Legendary mixologist Julian Cox has given Valley-haters a reason to cross over the Hollywood Hills with the instantly popular The Fiscal Agent. Located above local BBQ favorite Barrel & Ashes and accessed via a secret side door, The Fiscal Agent is a strong buy, from the courtesy welcome glass of champagne to the inventive cocktail menu divide into “shake it up” and “stir it up” columns (the “plate it up” column featuring upscale bar bites courtesy of Michael Kahinka also shouldn’t be overlooked). Be sure to make reservations well in advance or prepare to wait.

(credit: Viviane)

(credit: Viviane)


Viviane
The Avalon Hotel
9400 W. Olympic Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 407-7791
www.vivianerestaurant.com

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.

villains tavern Hidden Gems in Los Angeles: Nightlife Edition

(credit: villainstavern.com)


Villains Tavern
1356 Palmetto St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 613-0766
More Info

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.

the woods Hidden Gems in Los Angeles: Nightlife Edition

(credit: vintagebargroup.com)


The Woods
1533 N La Brea Ave
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 876-6612
www.vintagebargroup.com

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.

Article by Dave Klein & Joy Bitonio.

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