Venice never seems to lack demand for good places to get drinks, and that means the busy Nueva/Sunny Spot/Beechwood space has flipped into another concept. While Nueva managed through a pandemic opening and star opening chef in Vartan Abgaryan, there just wasn’t as much need for a bigger menu situation, according to partner Jared Meisler. After working up a drink list that resembled a terrific beach bar along the water with bartenders Danilo Kim and Marcus Ragas, Meisler and team debuted Gin Rummy last Friday, May 26.
Kim, previously of Alibi Room, and Ragas, previously of the Chestnut Club and Caboco, bring a fresh perspective on Tiki drinks with classics like piña coladas, Jungle Birds, Pain Killers, and even Scorpion bowls stacked with all manners of vodka, gin, and rum with fresh juices. Stirred and shaken sections show a bit more creativity with classics, including a banana Manhattan and a Corpse Reviver No. 47. Frozen sippers include daiquiris, habanero honeysuckle (with rum, honey, and chile), and four types of slushy margaritas. Three zero-proof cocktails mix passionfruit and tamarind, non-gin and tonic, or spiritless tequila margarita.
The food menu doesn’t lean fully into the Tiki theme (though there is a coconut shrimp app with Thai chile sauce), but there’s an array of tacos that carried over from Nueva, three types of fish and chips (including a vegan chicken), fried wings, and a few salads. They’re all meant to be snacky and help soak up the booze. Keeping the food straightforward for the enormous 200-seat space seems like a good call, especially with such ample patio seating that manages to capture some of that Venice Beach breeze despite the water being a mile or so away.
The shift to something perhaps more indelible, more timeless, makes sense for Meisler, whose other watering holes Bar Lubitsch, the Friend, and the Roger Room have managed to become neighborhood mainstays. Meisler’s hoping for a similar effect here, and a nice tandem with the Little Friend, which continues to occupy the back portion of the building but offers a bit of a scene with louder music. Meisler’s still partnered with David and Patti Reiss on the project, and continue to operate the Brig down on Abbot Kinney.
Gin Rummy is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Friday, and beginning at noon on Saturday and Sunday at 822 Washington Boulevard, Marina del Rey, CA. A daily happy hour runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.