We've got a lot of whiskey enthusiasts in Los Angeles, and a lot of whiskey bars that cater to them. Tequila and mezcal are gaining ground, and the tiki craze has made rum more plentiful and accessible than ever. But what about gin?
"There really aren’t many gin-centric bars in Los Angeles," says Rory Snipes, the general manager, partner and bar director of the newly opened SOCA on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. "That's one of the reasons I wanted the focus of SOCA’s bar program to revolve around gin."
So where else does Snipes go when he's in the mood for a great gin cocktail? Here are his five favorite bars for gin inspiration.
5. The Bellwether
"If I’m in the Sherman Oaks/Studio City area and I’m not at either SOCA or Boneyard, I love grabbing a drink at the Bellwether — they have a grapefruit-infused gin that they use to make Negronis, and it’s a really great and subtle spin on one of my favorites." 13251 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 285-8184, thebellwetherla.com.
4. Black Market Liquor Bar
"Black Market in Studio City always has one or two really well-thought-out cocktails using gin on the menu. Its bartenders are always really knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they’re doing, and the bar stocks a nicely curated selection of gin styles." 11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 446-2533, blackmarketliquorbar.com.
3. Here's Looking at You
"If I’m staying closer to home, I can always count on Here’s Looking at You in Koreatown to have something fun happening on the menu — the last time I was there, I had a cocktail made with Barr Hill Gin that was just awesome. As much as I love classic cocktails, it’s always great when someone is making drinks that don’t take themselves too seriously." 3901 W. Sixth St., Koreatown; (213) 568-3573, hereslookingatyoula.com.
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2. The Wellesbourne
"The Wellesbourne is my go-to for classic gin cocktails. The bartenders are great, and they seem to be able to introduce me to something new every time I’m there." 10929 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 474-0102, thewellesbourne.com.
1. The Flintridge Proper
"No conversation about bars and gin would be complete without mentioning the Flintridge Proper in La Cañada. It is without a doubt the place to go to find a gin you’ve never had (or heard of). Their selection is unparalleled — they even have a selection of vintage gins — and the bartenders are crazy knowledgeable and always willing to chat about gin or cocktails. If you haven’t been and you like gin, you really owe it to yourself to go. Besides, after a hot hike in the hills above La Cañada, what’s better than looking forward to a refreshing gin cocktail? Nothing." 464 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge; (818) 790-4888, theproper.com.