Los Angeles, as it was destined to do, has turned the cocktail revolution into a theme park of ridiculous costumes and drinks that cost as much as a good meal. Single-spirit venues compete for celebrity press with gimmicky “speakeasies” and with bars where the staff is downright theatrical about shaking, peeling and garnishing. (Enough already, you got the part.) If you're tired of paying dearly for tickets to the L.A. Cocktail Show, there's a place that offers respite. Koreatown's Normandie Club has already received accolades from Esquire and from top L.A. food writers, for good reason. The place gets it right every step of the way. The Normandie is the brainchild of downtown bar king Cedd Moses and New York's Proprietors LLC. The place is dark and sturdy, like an old rich guy's library, but the airs are few. Waxed mustaches and arm garters don't play here, the bouncer stays outside, and there's almost always a place to sit, a candlelit table or bar, even when it's packed. The patio, next to the Hotel Normandie, is sublime on a summer night. And the drinks from its “classic cocktail canon” are the best in town — stiff, elegant, studious and delivered without fuss or attitude. The Normandie Club could and should anchor any Koreatown bar-hopping adventure — Pot Lobby Bar is just down the street — but we wouldn't blame you for getting cozy and staying until the last old-fashioned is served.
Credit: Lina Lecaro