Hidden among the spanking-new swank spots on Cahuenga Boulevard remains an unvarnished beacon of booze and tattoos, and one of the longest-running badass dives in Hollywood: the Burgundy Room. Dark, loud, often cramped but always welcoming and laid-back, this enduring hole in the wall is everything a bar should be: The drinks are stiff as bricks and reasonably priced, the bartenders are either rough or superhot (sometimes both) and the crowd is rowdy but never in a scary way.
A little back history: The bar has been there since 1919 under many names, most famously as Ma and Pa Henderson’s in the ’40s (the prop of bandleader Skitch Henderson and his wife, Miss America Faye Emerson). In the ’60s and ’70s it was called Tommy’s, and in the ’80s the druggy den Dave’s Cave. It was bought and rechristened the Burgundy in 1989, ushering in the new era of Hollywood bars at the time (Lava Lounge, 3 Clubs, The Room). Now it’s owned by a former regular who has brought in DJs. (The rawk-heavy mixes of Apollo Staar on “Rock ’n’ Roll High School” Thursdays and Casper on ”Sundaze,” in particular, provide the perfect soundtrack to getting sauced, and sometimes hooking up.)
No need for beer goggles here; everyone looks doable in this dim light, though guys seriously on the make usually have more luck out front under the smoke clouds. Even if you’re not a puffer, or a pimp, the Burgundy experience must include at least a li’l hang time at the entrance, which is a lot easier since they opened an adjacent art gallery, the Thought. Strike up a chat with much-beloved Burgundy doorman Torrance Jackson (who hugs so many babes and shakes so many hands each night that we’ve dubbed him the Mayor of Cahuenga) or just marvel at the disparate, circuslike happenings that surround this unchanged punk pit: paparazzi fighting for a spot at the velvet ropes of Goa next door, choppy-haired crews jaywalking to and fro the Beauty Bar and Hotel Café and Kitchen 24 and the rest, and the ubiquitous cruiser traffic. Then go inside and get shit-faced. Cahuenga really is a zoo these days, but Burgundy is and always has been the hidden cave where real party animals get wild.
1621 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 465-7530.