The Best Cocktail Bars in Los Angeles
One in a Melon cocktail at Gracias Madre
When it comes to getting your drink on, there is no shortage of amazing bars that make up the burgeoning cocktail scene that we have in Los Angeles. With unparalleled takes on classic cocktails, small-batch spirits, farm-fresh ingredients and bartenders who push the boundaries of what we know, L.A. is a cocktail city to be reckoned with. So whether you're on the lookout for a speakeasy-style space to sip a Sazerac, a cocktail made from cannabis oil or a full-blown omakase experience, these bars have just the drink you've been looking for.
An omakase course at Walker Inn
Hidden in the back of Koreatown's buzzy Normandie Club you'll find the Walker Inn, an exclusive cocktail lounge serving up one of the city's most creative and delicious cocktail experiences. Grab a seat in the lounge or park yourself at the bar and and enjoy your cocktails omakase-style, with an unforgettable rotating cocktail tasting menu inspired by a set theme ranging from Alice Waters to regional climates. Themes change every month or so and usually are announced via Instagram, so you definitely won't be getting bored with the menu anytime soon. Walk-ins are welcome, but to ensure you get yourself a seat at the bar (which is recommended), make a reservation ahead of time.
3612 W. Sixth St., Koreatown; (213) 263-2709, thewalkerinnla.com.
Harvard & Stone
This East Hollywood watering hole brought to you by the Houston Brothers has everything you could want in a bar: a well-timed happy hour (8 to 9:30 p.m.), burlesque shows, live bands and absolutely stellar cocktails. Enjoy creative pours like a mango shandy with Encanto pisco, Genepy de Alpes, lemon, mango preserves and an Olympia float, or the black daiquiri with Atlantico Reserva rum, Cynar, lime and black walnut liqueur. Or make your way to the R&D bar at the back to sample cocktails from guest bartenders and a rotating list of special cocktails.
5221 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 466-6063, harvardandstone.com.
The bar at Belcampo
While Belcampo receives praise for everything from its delicious fast burger to its exemplary butchery, the cocktail program at Belcampo's bar is just as deserving of accolades. Cocktails devised by Josh Goldman, Julian Cox's partner in the bar consulting group Soigné, take form in a menu of pun-tastic cocktails divided into categories based on flavor profiles from bitter or spicy to fruity and creamy. Standout sips include the dirty martini, featuring a tea bag filled with cold steamed olives and sea salt to steep your cocktail to your desired level of dirtiness; the Port of L.A., made with white port, Tapatio reposado tequila, Amaro Abano, lime juice, prickly pear and a Belcampo Farms egg white; the Piña tu Madre, a delicious piña colada riff made with 8-year Denizen Rum; or the Snapping Turtle, a clarified bloody mary of sorts with herbal infused gin, horseradish oil and celery ice cubes.
1026 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (424) 744-8008, belcampo.com.
Melrose Umbrella Co.
If a good old-fashioned, post-Prohibition cocktail bar is what you're looking for, look no further than Ian Shepp and Zach Patterson's Melrose Umbrella Co. This favorite of the L.A. bar scene may have a modest list in terms of number (nine cocktails) but its perfectly curated balance between the old-school classics and innovative new-school house specialty cocktails makes for the perfect drinking experience, no matter which school of cocktails you prefer.
7465 Melrose Ave., Fairfax; (323) 951-0709, melroseumbrellaco.com.
Tucked behind a door at the back of Cole's marked simply by a drawing of two glasses you'll find the Varnish, a speakeasy-style bar that's a mainstay on most "best of" lists, and for good reason. Often credited with kicking off Los Angeles' craft cocktail scene back in 2009, today the Varnish is still going strong. Grab a seat at one of the booths and take in some live jazz while trying a perfect old-fashioned — you couldn't ask for a better evening.
118 E. Sixth St., downtown; (213) 265-7089, 213dthospitality.com.
From the crew behind the Greyhound, ETA is bringing some serious cocktails to Highland Park. With a bar program by Mauricio Canales, previously of Bar Ama, featuring playful mixed concoctions such as the Prettiest Girl of All Time with tequila, purple perilla and lemon balm, or It Goes Down in the Dimmi with Batiste Rhum Agricole, Dimmi Liqueur, lemon, pineapple puree and a Spice Station Sweet Viriginia Tisane rim, Highland Park's new neighborhood joint is one the rest of L.A. should be jealous of.
5630 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; (323) 274-4755.
The Roger Room
Another O.G. choice when it comes to getting your hands on a perfectly delicious craft cocktail, the Roger Room in Beverly Grove keeps things easy for you with a small, curated selection of intricately crafted cocktails sorted by spirit type. You can't really go wrong at this speakeasy-style bar, but standouts include the Flim Flam with Bombay dry gin, Cynar artichoke, Luxardo maraschino and a Molinari rinse, and the Thug, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Barenjager, honey liqueur, lemon juice, spicy habanero bitters and rocks.
370 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; (310) 854-1300, therogerroom.com.
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