WeHo has a new spot for the Pretty Young Things to decorate. Vaucluse soft-opened Dec. 27 and officially opened on Jan. 26 - a fitting date, as it was Australia Day and married owners Brad and Claire Cox hail from Down Under. Housed in Charlie Chaplin's old Sunset Boulevard home, the space evokes a hip but homey atmosphere, which is just what the couple intended.
After spending their honeymoon in and subsequently falling in love with L.A., Brad and Claire decided to throw caution to the wind, uproot their Syndey-based lives and move to Los Angeles without any clear plans for the future. That was seven months ago. And then, almost magically - as sometimes happens in Hollywood - the Chaplin property fell into their laps. As Claire put it, "How can you say no to Charlie Chaplin's home?" Well, you can't.
Drawing on their backgrounds in the hospitality business - Claire runs the place and does PR, while Brad tends bar - they created Vaucluse as a neighborhood joint with a bit more sophistication than some nearby spots. White predominates - all the walls, the front of house lounge seating, the leather bar front - offering a cool vibe with a nod to Hollywood royalty in the form of a large image of Chaplin and the names of former celebrity visitors stenciled on the walls. The mellowest spot is the downstairs patio, lined with stone walls and offering several welcoming nooks for a quiet escape or late night rendezvous.
While there is an Australian-American pub menu on offer, the emphasis is on cocktails with specialties created by Brad, who was a mixologist in Australia. His drinks are unabashedly on the sweet side, veering toward vodka and fruit, unlike the classic cocktail scene in town. (The classics are available here as well.) The Grand Maple blends vodka, Grand Marnier, fraise de boise, balsamic vinegar, maple and cracked black pepper.
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The Rose Petal Martini, with rose water, Parfait Amour and lychee liqueur, tastes just like it sounds (perhaps too much so). The Burning Passion made with Bacardi 151 sets a slice of passion fruit aflame for a little flair. If you're looking for even more of a wow factor, it doesn't get more wow-ish than the $10,000 martini, which has a 1-carat, round-cut diamond ceremoniously placed in the martini glass, after being removed from a briefcase by a local jeweler.
The Coxes aim to please, catering to a local but sophisticated clientele. "We want people to feel at home," Claire Cox says. So warm yourself by the lounge fire, dine in the open-air back room or sneak down to the patio for a bit of quiet. Drink, relax, repeat.
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book "Gin: A Global History." Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.