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The Wellesbourne: New English Bar With Old Cocktails

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Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge That would be a Rob Roy getting shaken, not stirred. - CAROLINE ON CRACK
  • Caroline on Crack
  • That would be a Rob Roy getting shaken, not stirred.

To step into The Wellesbourne, a new West L.A. bar which claims the 3,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Anna's Italian Restaurant, is to be transported to a pub on the English countryside. Yet rather than smelling of stale beer and years of pipe smoke, this one has that unmistakable aroma of recently dried paint stain and freshly cut wood.

The bar, created by Spacecraft Group (Te'Kila, Stout) and nightlife group Medium Rare Entertainment, is named after a small village near Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, and features 19th century English styling complete with a stone fireplace, cottage-style windows, coffered ceilings, a library seating area and paintings of scenes old English men love, like fox hunting and dinner parties. The game room strays from the bar's grandfather feel by replacing the billiard table, a pub staple, with frat favorite shuffleboard and foosball tables.

A 30-foot bar takes up the back wall, connecting the three rooms of the Wellesbourne, and has six beers and cider on tap as well as a list of classic cocktails, some of which you just don't find on even the most classic-focused cocktail menu. What other new bar in L.A. boasts a Brandy Alexander, Grasshopper and Harvey Wallbanger?

At the moment there aren't specialty cocktails available but the bartender behind the bar at last night's press preview said that may change somewhere down the line. But with its lack of new contributions to the L.A. drink scene and its bartenders' apparently limited cocktail knowledge -- as demonstrated by their shaking the Rob Roy instead of stirring it -- this doesn't hold the lure for cocktail aficionados like other new-old bars 1886 and Hemingway's do. However, neighborhoodies, English Lit majors and mall shoppers will surely appreciate the cozy, dimly lit venue as a place to grab a drink.

The Wellesbourne plans to start serving small plates -- homemade pretzels and ham and cheese croissants -- in the new year. Doors open tomorrow night.

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