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10 W Washington Blvd.
Venice, CA 90292
The only way to sail the seven seas, put your mind at ease, and protect the mother land with your fellow man? You guessed it. Join the Navy. But since your tendency toward seasickness and claustrophobia (plus a few not-so-stellar marks on your record) may prevent you from joining the boys in blue and gold, we suggest channeling your naval aspirations into a much less militaristic endeavor: grabbing a drink at the recently reopened and fully transformed new Venice Whaler.
This appropriately christened, nautically inspired watering hole has been around for a while – opened in 1944 as the single-story Crab Shell Bar, it served as a local hangout in the 60s and 70s for iconic bands like the Beach Boys, Doors and Beatles.
Step aboard the cleaned-up version of the venerable seaside dive if you like the following things: cocktails created by an alum of Las Perlas, Cole’s and Dia de Campo; plates of upscale dive-bar food (i.e. beach mussels with kaffir lime cream and fennel pollen or kobe beef sliders with pineapple bbq and Hawaiian sweet bread); and an atmosphere where you can do your best pirate impressions with little-to-no censure.
Life preservers aren’t necessary but with the interior’s ship-like sensibility, you may not be completely surprised to see a weathered sea captain with a peg-leg threatening to keel haul the bartenders if he doesn’t get his drink fast enough.
The clean lines of the light blue ceiling and white-washed walls create the ideal canvas for more seafaring design elements, including a casted bronze diving helmet behind the bar, a wood ship’s wheel mounted on the wall, some whale-heavy art, and plank-like wood communal tables on the patio, plus local artists painted the silverware buckets that grace each table.
Since it gets cold on the high seas, you may need to imbibe in something that’ll bring a good flush to you and your date’s cheeks. Venture to the downstairs Crab Shell Bar for a beach-friendly craft cocktail made with artisanal spirits, like the Moscow Mule, a blend of bourbon, ginger-citrus syrup, bitters and ginger beer, or the tequila-based Cadillac, topped with a Gran Chevalia float.
While the drink list has the requisite beach favorites of Mai Tai’s, Mojito’s and Margaritas, you can also indulge in one of the 14 drafts, eight of which hail from the Golden State.
Ok, that’s about it…we’ve just about fully depleted our stores of nautical references, so you should probably sail into this bar soon.
By Arielle Sachar