Best Place to Drink with Smart People - 2012
Altadena Ale & Wine House
In the shadow of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tucked into a quiet but up-and-coming sector of Altadena's "Fair Oaks Corridor," there's a place where everybody knows your name. Subbing in for Cheers' bar stool warmers at Altadena Ale & Wine House, however, are the very same folks jockeying the Mars Curiosity rover or fresh from Marketplace on NPR. Smart folks need an oat soda at the end of the day just like everyone else, and joining them at this offbeat hangout are artists, artisans and taxidermists. Owners Gail and Judah Cashburn started this celebration of classy barley and vine two years ago, and now host all kinds of beer and wine tastings, co-op meetings and holiday happenings at their homey establishment, which includes a mutt-friendly smoking patio. The sign outside may read "Pub," but keep your ears pricked for genius musings, arty banter and folks preparing for their annual fall Limerick Fest. 2329 Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena. (626) 794-4577, altadenaalehouse.com.
—Paul T. Bradley