Best of L.A.

Best Of 2009

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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

BEST MALT SHOP
Daily Pint

Ask Daily Pint owner Philip McGovern why he started amassing one of the largest Scotch collections in L.A. 15 years ago, and you’ll likely hear a grunt about the customers who pestered him to do it. The pub currently offers more than 300 single-malt and blended scotches, all wedged shoulder-to-shoulder on an overhead wooden shelf that runs the length of the bar. You can spend upward of $150 for a glass of the Last Drop, quite literally the last few sips of a nearly 50-year-old blend of 80 Scotch whiskeys that mysteriously surfaced in a warehouse cask overseas last year. A bottle will set you back around $2,000 retail, so that buck-50 is actually a pretty good deal for those who are feeling paycheck flush. For the rest of us, McGovern offers several interesting sips for $10 to $20, among them the limited-release 1993 Oban Distiller’s Edition and the 17-year-old Macallan Fine Oak, a sherry-oak aged whiskey. The best deal may be the flights, which start at $25 for five tastes and are generous enough to share with your new bar buddy. 2310 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 450-7631, thedailypint.net.

—Jenn Garbee
2310 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 90405
MAP
310-450-7631
BEST 3 MARGARITAS BY A BEACH
Bouzy, La Cabaña and Mucho Ultima Mexicana

There's only one way to drink a frosty, get-your-head-spinning citrus-tequila blend — and that's near the beach. If you're going to knock back the hallmark drink of spring break you might as well feel like you're on vacation. The city is home to showy flaming margaritas, cotton candy-based margaritas, and $2 specials, but it's in the beach towns that you'll find the signature Mexican drink paired with happy hour truffle fries and late-night "hand-hacked" guacamole. He'll say: If the tequila you're drinking isn't 100 percent Agave, it ain't real tequila. And freshly squeezed lime and lemon juices are supremely important. She'll say: Not too much ice or salt, and its got to have a kick to it ... you want to be buzzed all the way to the sand. He: Margaritas are serious business at Bouzy in Redondo Beach during their "Happy Cocktail Hour." They have potent, lip-smacking libations for $4. Plus, their truffle fries and "Kogi" hot dogs are fresh twists on favored classics. She: The staff is easy-on-the-eyes at Bouzy and you'll love their sleek leather booths. But if you must have your chips and salsa, and want to feel like you're in a foreign land, then it's La Cabaña in Venice. They use fresh limes and have more than 20 varieties of margaritas, like coconut or banana. He: Banana margaritas just sound wrong. She: You also need to hit up Mucho Ultima Mexicana in Manhattan Beach for their late-night specials. But it's only $5 for house margaritas and they've got BBQ shrimp tacos. He: Is that the swanky restaurant that serves 150 types of tequilas? She: So amazing. Their "Mucho Margarita" beats the overhyped Cabo Wabo and Sharkeez any day. He: If you're looking for fruity, ice-blended margaritas to swill on sultry nights, Mucho is a choice spot. Bouzy, 1611 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach. (310) 540 1222; La Cabaña, 738 Rose Ave., Venice. (310) 392-7973; Mucho Ultima Mexicana, 903 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. (310) 374-4422.

—Kee Chang and Sophia Kercher
1611 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach, 90277
MAP
310-540-1222
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738 Rose Ave., Venice, 90291
MAP
310-392-6161
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903 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 90266
MAP
310-374-4422
BEST AFTERNOON DJ

Michael Stock's years hunched over boxes of records, trolling for vinyl treasure, certainly has paid off. Every Thursday afternoon Angelenos benefit from the staggering breadth of his musical archive. Stock is half of Part Time Punks (with Benjamin White), the duo who put on the eponymous Tuesday night series at the Echo, which means he's keyed into happenings on the local scene. He's been DJing for the past two years in clubs all over the city, including Spaceland, Silverlake Lounge, Tangier and the Vanguard, and has even taught a course at UCI on punk rock and the cinema. Can he be long-winded and verbose? Occasionally. Is he informative? You bet. There's much to be transmitted from Stock's encyclopedic brain, so give him a break. Tune in Thursdays and catch surf punk, scratchy R&B records, new pop, indie, experimental electronica, old Goth hits from the crypt, and international post-punk colliding on air. This professor, booker, promoter, DJ, human database of musical knowledge and radio personality has something to offer everybody. P.S. What did you do today, Jim Ladd? Thursdays, 2-6 p.m. on KXLU 88.9 FM.

—Wendy Gilmartin
BEST ALL-AGES VENUE
The Smell

With all due respect to Echo Curio, host to a consistently compelling combination of outsider art both audio and visual, Jim Smith's The Smell remains the single best venue for showgoers of all ages to experience not only the music of their peers, but that of some bona fide legends, to boot. Despite its rising profile, the downtown venue has kept admission cheap (almost always $5) and its M.O. intact: to play host to the noisiest, messiest, most genreless and generally outside-of-the-box hand-hewn musical experiments around, while maintaining a downright wholesome sense of community fueled by vegan pancake brunches, haircut parties and a generous library of nifty zines. And of course, it's still the home base of local heroes like No Age, HEALTH, Abe Vigoda, and Mika Miko — not to mention possible future stars like Pocahaunted and Widow Babies — as well as the stopping point of choice for Thurston Moore when he's taking time off from Sonic Youth. What's more, the Smell offers myriad ways for youth to get involved, whether behind the scenes or working the front door. 247 S. Main St., dwntwn. thesmell.org.

—Chris Martins
247 S. Main St., Los Angeles, 90012
MAP
213-625-4325
BEST ART GALLERY FOR MUSIC
L'Keg

Straddling Echo Park's south side and downtown, L'Keg sits tucked between a rotisserie-chicken restaurant and a vinyl–sign-making shop, downplaying its claustrophobic, punk-rock interior with a quiet exterior in the daytime but lighting up when night falls — long after the strip mall's other tenants have left for the day. L'Keg — named after a line in the film Velvet Goldmine (L.K.E.G. is an abbreviation of "Lipstick Kissed Elbow Glove") is, at its heart, a gallery/project space launched by members of the local band Blue Jungle. Exhibitions consist of crafty arts, pop illustrations, photography and heavy-on-the-graphic-design works on paper. But its founders — Cory Myrick, Leticia Llesmin, Nosebleed and Shannon Paley — know that rocking, too, is an art, so they've opened the space to homegrown bands of every persuasion, including Torches in Trees, Bi-polar Bear, Man's Assassination Man, Foot Village, Puppy Dog, and the folksy Leslie and the Badgers, to name a few. In addition to the venue that L'Keg offers to spotlight great local bands, the space is also a distributor of records and publications for local artsy/musical folk, and hosts occasional outlying events, like Sunday hangover poetry parties and screenings of teenage snuff films. 311 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park. myspace.com/lkeggallery.

—Wendy Gilmartin
311 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, 90026
MAP
213-413-5534
BEST BAR FOR VALLEY VAGITARIANS

Touting itself as "Valley chic," Moon Shadow Lounge in North Hollywood, more often known as NoHo, offers a regular happy hour, go-go dancers, live music and Sunday brunch. You can play darts or pool, dance to DJ Boulevard's spinning of hip-hop and electronica on Saturday nights, or sing karaoke on Tuesday nights with host KJ Tony, who offers more than 60,000 song choices. The bar has multiple TV screens tuned to pro football, baseball and basketball. The lounge has such a great vibe that it's been featured in lesbian films such as But I'm a Cheerleader, Girl Play and A Marine Story. It's also a fun jaunt into the Valley if you live, or party, on what 1.6 million Valleyites call "the other side of the hill." 10437 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd. (818) 508-7008, moonshadownightclub.com.

—Patrick Range McDonald
10437 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
MAP
818-508-7008
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BEST MALT SHOP: Daily Pint

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