If it’s not a weekend, the block outside Hideout Sycamore in Hollywood quiet enough to hear a pin drop. The occasional car carrying a lost commuter, or the quiet daps of a puppy walking on the sidewalk might be the only breaks in silence. But inside this brick-lined space echoes the slushing cocktail shaker of Julian Cox, one of LA’s most accomplished bartenders, who has returned to the city where he made his name serving a tight list of spectuclar drinks. Cox and partner Alejandro Marchesini open Hideout Sycamore this week on a block already occupied by Gigi’s, Tartine, and the expansive Sightglass Coffee, with the intention of doing a very low-key cocktail and natural wine bar, plus some easygoing drinking fare to accompany the beverages.
Cox first splashed onto the LA cocktail scene as part of the late aughts wave of great bar openings. He mixed at Rivera, preparing the now iconic Barbacoa and Blood Sugar Sex Magic drinks (fans always recall these creations), and eventually onto a slate of other places like Picca, Bestia, and Circa before opening the shorter lived Brilliantshine in Santa Monica and Fiscal Agent in the Valley. He spent time in Chicago with Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and got involved with some bars in San Francisco. Cox still calls Austin, Texas home at the moment but took the opportunity to partner with Marchesini on Hideout Sycamore, replete with ample indoor and outdoor space, a solid liquor license, and some modest but well-prepared food from chef Leo Lanussol (the former owner of Latin America 50 Best restaurant Proper in Buenos Aires).
On the wine side, Marchesini hails from Portland, spending time in Willamette Valley making wine for Native Wine Co. before returning to his childhood home of Los Angeles. The 100ish bottle wine list runs the gamut of European and stateside juice, with an inclination toward newer vintages but a consistent focus on natural production.
As for Cox’s drinks, they seem fairly straightforward: Just eight drinks a night like the rhubarb Negroni, mezcal and ginger-tinted 5th & Adams, or the Tiki-inspired Doncha the Beach with rums, liquid nitrogen spearment, and pineapple. Run the Jules cocktail also uses liquid nitrogen, which blasts the cell walls of juices and releasing more of the essential citrus flavors of kumquat and orange.
The team is making sure to stay safe as the pandemic persists, eschewing any bar seating or allowing anyone to even belly up to order. Limited indoor seating and an array of outdoor seating with service allows imbibers to spread out on the sleepy stretch of Sycamore (just bring a coat in case it gets chilly). Those looking for nibbles can pick at a charcuterie board made by Tesse restaurant, or the tangy sardines over roasted fennel. An eggplant caponata with stringy burrata and crusty sourdough bread also works to soak up any extra booze.
Hideout Sycamore is open Wednesday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight, with expanded days and hours expected to come in later months.