This Friday, Los Angeles cocktail fans can experience the next iteration of iconic Eastside bar The Airliner. The historic space was first established in 1923, and over the last few decades has shuffled between a dive bar and space for iconic underground performances like the weekly hip hop and electronic show Low End Theory. Now owners Sean Kelly and Monica Blair have dramatically transformed the building, and are planning for much more than just bar snacks and bad beer.
In the building’s early days, the Airliner was a laid-back lounge attached to an adjacent steakhouse. At present, the 4,500 square foot space takes up two floors and a vast outdoor patio. The first floor includes a lengthy bar with deep wood, banquettes, and a vast, eye-catching and LA-centric mural by local artist Stacy Smith. Kelly (who is also a one of the original founders of Highland Park’s Town Pizza) and Blair, who purchased the place in August, will keep the upstairs stage and bar for special curated events, and they’ve transformed the former rear parking lot into a softly lit Mediterranean patio.
Chef Gabriel Cappelli has taken the lead in the kitchen. Cappelli’s niche is to create food at throwback bars, including the The Edmun on Melrose, and the shuttered The Lost Knight in Echo Park. The Airliner is Cappelli’s fifth project, and he chose favorites from Tunisia, Sicily, and Argentina, like an eggplant capponata or half roast chicken.
Cocktails lean towards the classics and the whimsical. The New Edition takes a shot of blanco tequila, Chareau liqueur, cucumber, lime, and serrano chile; the Fly by Paradise uses Wheatley vodka, a guava apertivo, and lemon.
The Airliner debuts its new look this Friday in Lincoln Heights. Expect hours from 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. daily to start.