Bar Report: Dirty Laundry in Hollywood
What: "Speakeasy" may be the most overused word in the L.A. nightlife scene since "mixologist," but the Houston brothers are doing it right in Hollywood at Dirty Laundry, a modern take on the Prohibition-era bar, which opened a few weeks ago near the corner of Hollywood and Vine.
The space is believed to have been actor Rudolph Valentino's secret bar in the 1920s, and the name references the way forbidden alcohol was smuggled around in laundry baskets at the time. Down to the Edison bulbs, suspender-clad bartenders and the elimination of cellphone service, Dirty Laundry embraces the requisite jazz-age details. A list of rules inside the menu explains there is to be no name-dropping or "trout pout," no neon drinks will be served and, much to our dismay, no belching. Don't expect any ragtime music, though -- DJ's will provide some thoroughly current (or possibly some throwback '80s) tunes to keep you going all night.
Who: You can always tell when you're in a Houston brothers bar: You're not sure either how to get in or out, or you feel as though you may have been transported to another country or time period. Jonnie and Mark Houston, the twins behind La Descarga, Harvard & Stone and Pour Vous, bring their flair for the dramatic to this new haunt. Nicolas O'Connor (Teddy's, Apotheke) is managing the bar, but the cocktail menu is a collaborative effort among the bartenders.
When: Soft-opened on Oct. 9, Dirty Laundry has been officially open for a couple weeks now. You can get your drink on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 p.m.- 2 a.m.
Where: Located in the old Hush Lounge space from a few years ago -- subtle signage from the Hush days remains outside -- this underground bar is located beneath an unassuming apartment building. And when we say it's "underground," we mean it literally. Turn off bustling Hollywood Boulevard onto dark Houston Street and you'll wonder if you're going the right way (the valet stand sort of ruins the magic and intrigue of finding the place yourself, but just go with it). If you suddenly find yourself at the Houston brothers' other spot, No Vacancy, you've gone too far. Once you've found your way to the hidden staircase, ring the correct buzzer (you can find the answer via Dirty Laundry's social media), and you're in. If only the 1920s had Twitter.
Why: With a fun drink menu featuring updated versions of classic cocktails, even the libations reflect the modernized 1920s style. The Hollywood Park is similar to a mint julep, served with a Pop Rock garnish, while two slushie machines crank out frozen Bacon Manhattans and Negronis (flavors will rotate monthly). Interestingly, cocktails here seem to evolve as you drink them. While the Juice Joint starts off refreshing and light, the gin, grapefruit shrub and carrot juice complement each other and deepen in flavor as you near the end of your glass. The citrus notes in the High Desert, a whiskey-based cocktail with a flashy absinthe rinse and orange bitters, brighten with each sip. If you're coming with a group, try one of the punch bowls, which serve eight to 10 people in precious vintage glasses.
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