It's a craft cocktail culture revival in Los Angeles as new mixology bars move in and the longstanding hot spots take on a welcome revamp. But with so many options these days, it can get pretty tough to decide where to sip those hand-crafted concoctions.
Be it one drink for your bucket list or a full-blown evening of hand-muddled tastes in a unique space, MetroWize is here to help with our picks for the Best Craft Cocktail and Mixology Bars in Los Angeles. Here’s a list (in no particular order) to get you started off the right way.
10899 Venice Blvd
Oldfield’s is a fairly recent newcomer to the mixology bar culture in LA, but full of delicious offerings. Located on a stretch of Venice Boulevard, in the former home of Saints and Sinners, Oldfield’s is a tribute to legendary, old-timey racecar driver Barney Oldfield, and the drinks are as classic as Oldfield himself. The interior is dim and hearkens back to the steampunk era, while lilting folk music can usually be heard in the background, almost as if some soul is gently playing guitar in a darkened corner. Of all drinks to choose from, try the Peerless – comprised of Martin Miller’s 90 proof Gin, Apricot Liqueur, Apricot Nectar, Ginger Beer, this will be a drink you crave late at night.
Neighborhood: Culver City
Hours: Mon-Sun 5 pm - 2 am
217 Broadway Street
The Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade can be ghastly when all you’re looking for is a place to relax, enjoy a glass of something boozy, and wait for traffic to subside. Fortunately, Copa d’Oro is a hidden little gem that flanks the horrors of retail tourism in LA. Head barman Vincenzo Marianella has cooked up a fantastic drink menu and even perfected a few classics such as the Pisco Sour. Additionally, Marianella has the ability to concoct drinks off-the-cuff, and guess what? His impromptu mixes are so damn good.
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
Hours: Mon-Wed 5:30 pm - 12 am; Thu-Sat 5:30 pm - 2 am
5221 Hollywood Blvd
Don’t get intimidated by the seedy exterior, nor the ultra hipster crowd that usually gravitates to Harvard and Stone. Harvard and Stone is dedicated to the art of drink making and on the interior, you’ll find industrial antiques, dancing girls, and three separate bars, including a massive main bar, where you can order creations like Parlour Punch No. 2 – a mix of Bulleit bourbon, vanilla/celon tea syrup, lemon juice, seltzer. Delicious!
Hours: Mon-Sun 8 pm - 2 am
1159 N. Western Ave
Rum lovers of the world unite! La Descarga, a relative newbie on the mixology circuit opened in 2010 with a sole purpose to switch up the drinking scene in Los Angeles. Citing an overabundance of whiskey saloons, or even worse, clubs vending only vodka tonics, La Descarga wants Angelenos to drink more rum. With over 70 bottles of rum in the house, ridiculously talented mixologists, and an old-school Havana vibe, La Descarga is quickly becoming a go-to spot for the best evening you’ll have. Even the music is carefully curated, purposely avoiding Top 40 Hits and crappy hip-hop, and opting for Caribbean inspired tunes. Be bold and order the Bad Spaniard: Cruzan Blackstrap Rum, Amaro Averna, sweetened condensed milk, one whole egg yolk and cinnamon.
Hours: Tue-Sat 8 pm - 2 am
370 North La Cienega Blvd
Anyone who knows their stuff, knows that the Roger Room is one of those places you have to go to at least once while living in Los Angeles, even if that means schlepping all the way from east side, or the valley, or wherever it is you reside. Located off of La Cienega and next door to a psychic, The Roger Room is a heavenly oasis complete with a warm, cozy interior, employees don classy attire, and a menu that will incite your taste buds to salivate. Try the Roger Room’s many twists on traditional cocktails or opt for something creative like the Old Sport – a tincture of gin, black-tea infused lychee Liqueur, cucumber juice, and lime.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
Website: Facebook Page
Hours: Mon-Fri 6 pm - 2 am; Sat 7 pm - 2 am; Sun 8 pm - 2 am
Inside Cole’s French Dip at 118 E. 6th St
Remember when speakeasies were hidden in restaurants, peoples’ home basements, or some secret annex attached to a living room? Well, at least that's what we’ve been told in the movies, but at The Varnish (and by extension, Cole’s) that’s the reality. Enter through a nondescript door in Cole’s and you’ll find yourself in one of LA’s most prized possessions: The Varnish. The liquid chef here is Eric Alperin, of Doheny fame, who is basically a guru of his craft, so you know you’re in able hands. In honor of the season, order the Hot Buttered Rum -- Aged Rum, Butter, Honey, and Hot Water. Don’t feel like ordering off the menu? Just let the barkeep know what you’re hankering for and they’ll create something magical. Trust!
Hours: Every Day 7pm - 2am
108 West 2nd St
The Edison was the first watering hole to really capitalize on a few things people just love: Prohibition era décor, vintage cocktails, burlesque dancers, and food. Whatever they’re doing is working though, because there are tons a newer establishments banking on what The Edison already knows. Sweetening the deal that is The Edison is their Centennial Cocktail hour where you can get drinks at prices only seen during the great depression. Cheap, we’re talking less than a dollar for some classy booze, here folks. The Edison’s signature cocktail list will give you plenty of inspiration just like the lounge's namesake.
Hours: Wed-Fri 5 pm - 2 am; Sat 8 pm - 2 am
714 W. Olympic Blvd
La Caña is yet another bar dedicated to the culture surrounding rum and deserves a place on this list just as La Descarga does. This membership-only bar (it costs a meager $20 to join and once you do, you have access to the premises and one free drink) is the brainchild of the peeps behind 213, bringing Angelenos a taste of Cuban inspired spirits and cigars. Try the Tennessee Isle, once mixed doesn’t taste like rum at all, but a delicious glass of whiskey. Or, for those lucky enough to have a friend with membership, order a bowl of punch that can serve 4 to 8 people. End the evening on the cigar patio with a stogee or cigarillo, Cuba style.
Hours: Tue-Fri 6 pm - 2 am; Sat 7 pm - 2 am
7000 Hollywood Blvd
Everyone in Los Angeles lauds The Library Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel on a pretty regular basis. It usually goes something like this: They obtain all the ingredients from local farmers markets, they get their spices from fancy spice stores, and the drinks are amazeballs. Well, its all true. Adding to the fact that The Library bar is stationed in one of Hollywood’s most hallowed hotels/nightspots, you really can’t go wrong with a visit and sort of pricey beverage. Drinking at The Library bar is a rite of passage in this city – just don’t order a vodka tonic. That’s just rude.
Hours: Open daily from 5:30pm
11915 Ventura Blvd
If you find yourself stuck in Studio City, never fear! Cocktails abound at the swanky and sophisticated Black Market, created by celeb supergroup Pablo Moix and Steve Levigni (La Descarga/Harvard and Stone) plus Top Chef contestant Antonia Lofaso. Offering craft connoisseurs an irresistible menu of goodies like the Punch For One (pisco, agave, pineapple, Angostura bitters) and Blueberry Cobbler (genever, blackberry, lemon), this liquor bar is well-stocked for folks with a sweet tooth. Come time for grub, you'll choose from a smattering of bites that crisscross Cajun, Italian, and French flavors. Oh, and there's a deep-fried Fluffernutter sandwich too.
Neighborhood: Studio City
Hours: Mon-Sun 5 pm - 2 am
1114 N Pacific Ave
If you're looking for fancy drinks without the fussiness, Neat may be your new favorite watering hole. A refreshingly stripped down bar that focuses on the basics, this Glendale liquor haven never gets complaints for the strength of their drinks. Choose from over 200 whiskeys, gins, tequilas and rums, then tell your bartender what mixer you're interested in. They'll serve you the liquor on the rocks with your mixer in a separate glass beside it. The "mixology" at this bar is all up to you.
Hours: Mon-Sun 5 pm - 2 am
8479 Melrose Avenue
The mixologists behind Comme Ça in West Hollywood are genius. No matter what we order, we can't help but LOVE the drinks there. Definitely sit at the bar. It's a small place, but totally worth it. Order up the Penicillin, scotch, lemon, honey and ginger mixed into perfection. Their cocktail list is ever evolving and aims to intrigue and satisfy the most discerning palates.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5:30 pm - 10 pm; Wed-Fri 11:30 am - 3 pm; Fri-Sat 5:30 pm - 11 pm; Sat-Sun 10 am - 3 pm
840 S Spring St
From the masterful mind of Casey Lane (who has brought westsiders hyper local cuisine at The Tasting Kitchen for a while) comes The Parish, a "true" English gastropub that is located in Downtown Los Angeles. And, like The Tasting Kitchen, The Parish is bringing a little bit of bourgeois Venice with it, including indoor and outdoor dining areas, simple and tasteful decor, and lot of the bells and whistles Casey Lane has been associated with over the years -- like unique cocktails such as the Black Bee (a tincture of house barrel bourbon, lemon juice, honey and stout).
Hours: Mon-Sun 5pm - 2am
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Did we miss something? What's your favorite craft cocktail or mixology bar in Los Angeles? Email us at editor (at) metrowize (dot) com