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Beau du Bois at The Corner Door
Beau du Bois at The Corner Door
Matthew Kang

The 10 Best Cocktail Bars to Become a Regular in LA

The original bartenders still work the menus they crafted

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Beau du Bois at The Corner Door
| Matthew Kang

For years the bartender profession was considered a temporary gig for those who just wanted to pick up a steady paycheck while on their way to making their dreams come true. But when the cocktail revival hit there was a beautiful and all too brief period when the transitory job became full-blown career. Drinkmakers actually pulled shifts behind the bar. Remember Marcos Tello at the Varnish, Matthew Biancaniello at Hollywood Roosevelt's Library Bar, or even when Julian Cox was at Rivera?

But now as the booze industry grows there are even more opportunities for cocktail slingers that bring them out from behind the bar. It's a good thing considering how tough shaking drinks every night is on the body. They can now be brand ambassadors, cocktail consultants, spirit makers, and cocktail book authors.

Good for them but sad for those who miss chatting them up about their drinks. Thankfully there are still a few bartenders around L.A. holding down the fort. For whatever reason, they've managed to resist the allure of travel and better pay, for staying at the bar. Here's where you can visit the original bartenders, why they've chosen to stick around, and why you'll be best off becoming a regular at their bars.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Copa D'Oro

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217 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 576-3030
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Vincenzo Marianella aka the Godfather of Cocktails was one of the pioneers of the cocktail revival in Los Angeles. He ran the program at Providence and Cedd Moses' now defunct private club, The Doheny. Then he opened up Copa d'Oro in 2009 and has been behind the bar there ever since. You can find him there Wednesday through Saturday. Marianella does consult on other bar programs every now and then like Manhattan Beach's Love & Salt but prefers to keep in contact with guests. "I like to be in the hospitality industry. I'm fascinated by the history of spirits and the effect that they had over the community where the distilleries were built, and the same for the bars."

2. The Tasting Kitchen

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1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 392-6644
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Amazingly Justin Pike has been working the bar at Chef Casey Lane's Tasting Kitchen in Venice since it opened seven years ago. And yet he still managed to be tapped as one of Food and Wine's Best New Mixologists for 2016. When he's not behind the bar, he's probably barrel-aging Negronis or creating amazing chalk art on the restaurant's blackboard.

Matthew Kang

3. The Corner Door

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12477 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 313-5810
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The chefs may have come and gone from The Corner Door but Bartender of the Year 2014 Beau du Bois continues to hold down the fort, four to five nights a week. "I always wanted to be behind the bar for a few reasons, mostly so I could hear the very candid responses to all the cocktails we serve," he says.

Matthew Kang

4. Gracias Madre

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8905 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 978-2170
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With unusual, buzzworthy cocktails like those pot cocktails and the elaborate bong drink, of course you're going to want to have some facetime with their mad creator. Fortunately you can find beverage director Jason Eisner behind the bar on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. "I adore being able to positively affect someone's day through a culinary and performance medium."

5. Terrine

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8265 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 746-5130
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Beverage director Ryan Wainwright has his skilled hands in the cocktail programs for Bombet Hospitality's Terrine, Faith and Flower, and Hanjip. And yet you can also still find him at Terrine Friday and Saturday nights. Why? Because he just likes to be behind the bar and make sure his guests are enjoying a moment they'll always remember. "Being behind the bar is why I started bartending and without that aspect I would really feel like I was some sort of paper pusher/ideas man," he says. "I'm the guy who likes to facilitate an awesome experience for random people that come into his home."

6. Jones Hollywood

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7205 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 850-1726
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The real OG bartender here is Eric "ET" Tecosky. The creator of the Surfer on Acid shot and Dirty Sue olive juice has been slinging drinks at Jones since 2001. "There's an energy behind the bar that I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to experience — most bartenders I know would say the same," he says. "The rush is incredible with so many moving parts at one time. The goal is always the same — leave the customer feeling better than when they walked in. I love it."

7. The Spare Room

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7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 769-7296
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Bartending is very hard, physical work, and yet bar director Yael Vengroff says that's what attracted her to the job. That and how it suits her night owl tendencies. "I enjoy meeting and connecting with like-minded folks during these hours that are typically looked at as subversive or out of the norm," she says. She can be found shaking tins on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

8. Birch

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1634 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 960-3369
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When you take a seat at the bar at Birch in front of Gabriella Mlynarczyk, you're entrusting your evening to one of L.A.'s best. She's created the cocktail menus for ink, Cadet, and now Chef Brendan Collins' Birch. And even though she has a popular drink blog, Loving Cup, and is currently working on a book, you can actually find her shaking up cocktails at the bar Friday through Monday. "My time behind the bar is time that I spend honing my skills," she says. "I’m always trying to think about how to make a drink better and how to improve flavor and/or presentation."

9. Broken Spanish

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1050 S. Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 749-1460
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Michael Lay may be a big shot beverage director whose English Milk Punch (for Faith & Flower) was named cocktail of 2014 by Esquire Magazine but he hasn't let any of that get to his head. He still very much enjoys interacting with guests in the restaurant on a regular basis (Tuesday through Saturday and sometimes Sunday and Monday). "I thrive during a busy, challenging night. I'm fortunate that I work with an exceptional team behind the bar, in the dining room and in the kitchen."

10. Redbird

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114 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 788-1191
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Even after Tobin Shea transitioned from bar manager to beverage director for Redbird you can drop by the restaurant most nights and find him stirring cocktails. He still puts in the 50 hours because that's when he gets his epiphanies. "I have had my greatest a-ha moments for cocktail creation while working behind the bar," he says. "It typically happens on a slow lunch or the end of a shift, but it's advantageous to have all the ingredients at your fingertips."

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1. Copa D'Oro

217 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Vincenzo Marianella aka the Godfather of Cocktails was one of the pioneers of the cocktail revival in Los Angeles. He ran the program at Providence and Cedd Moses' now defunct private club, The Doheny. Then he opened up Copa d'Oro in 2009 and has been behind the bar there ever since. You can find him there Wednesday through Saturday. Marianella does consult on other bar programs every now and then like Manhattan Beach's Love & Salt but prefers to keep in contact with guests. "I like to be in the hospitality industry. I'm fascinated by the history of spirits and the effect that they had over the community where the distilleries were built, and the same for the bars."

217 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401

2. The Tasting Kitchen

1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Matthew Kang

Amazingly Justin Pike has been working the bar at Chef Casey Lane's Tasting Kitchen in Venice since it opened seven years ago. And yet he still managed to be tapped as one of Food and Wine's Best New Mixologists for 2016. When he's not behind the bar, he's probably barrel-aging Negronis or creating amazing chalk art on the restaurant's blackboard.

1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

3. The Corner Door

12477 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Matthew Kang

The chefs may have come and gone from The Corner Door but Bartender of the Year 2014 Beau du Bois continues to hold down the fort, four to five nights a week. "I always wanted to be behind the bar for a few reasons, mostly so I could hear the very candid responses to all the cocktails we serve," he says.

12477 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066

4. Gracias Madre

8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069

With unusual, buzzworthy cocktails like those pot cocktails and the elaborate bong drink, of course you're going to want to have some facetime with their mad creator. Fortunately you can find beverage director Jason Eisner behind the bar on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. "I adore being able to positively affect someone's day through a culinary and performance medium."

8905 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069

5. Terrine

8265 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Beverage director Ryan Wainwright has his skilled hands in the cocktail programs for Bombet Hospitality's Terrine, Faith and Flower, and Hanjip. And yet you can also still find him at Terrine Friday and Saturday nights. Why? Because he just likes to be behind the bar and make sure his guests are enjoying a moment they'll always remember. "Being behind the bar is why I started bartending and without that aspect I would really feel like I was some sort of paper pusher/ideas man," he says. "I'm the guy who likes to facilitate an awesome experience for random people that come into his home."

8265 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

6. Jones Hollywood

7205 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

The real OG bartender here is Eric "ET" Tecosky. The creator of the Surfer on Acid shot and Dirty Sue olive juice has been slinging drinks at Jones since 2001. "There's an energy behind the bar that I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to experience — most bartenders I know would say the same," he says. "The rush is incredible with so many moving parts at one time. The goal is always the same — leave the customer feeling better than when they walked in. I love it."

7205 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046

7. The Spare Room

7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Bartending is very hard, physical work, and yet bar director Yael Vengroff says that's what attracted her to the job. That and how it suits her night owl tendencies. "I enjoy meeting and connecting with like-minded folks during these hours that are typically looked at as subversive or out of the norm," she says. She can be found shaking tins on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

8. Birch

1634 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

When you take a seat at the bar at Birch in front of Gabriella Mlynarczyk, you're entrusting your evening to one of L.A.'s best. She's created the cocktail menus for ink, Cadet, and now Chef Brendan Collins' Birch. And even though she has a popular drink blog, Loving Cup, and is currently working on a book, you can actually find her shaking up cocktails at the bar Friday through Monday. "My time behind the bar is time that I spend honing my skills," she says. "I’m always trying to think about how to make a drink better and how to improve flavor and/or presentation."

1634 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

9. Broken Spanish

1050 S. Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Michael Lay may be a big shot beverage director whose English Milk Punch (for Faith & Flower) was named cocktail of 2014 by Esquire Magazine but he hasn't let any of that get to his head. He still very much enjoys interacting with guests in the restaurant on a regular basis (Tuesday through Saturday and sometimes Sunday and Monday). "I thrive during a busy, challenging night. I'm fortunate that I work with an exceptional team behind the bar, in the dining room and in the kitchen."

1050 S. Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

10. Redbird

114 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Even after Tobin Shea transitioned from bar manager to beverage director for Redbird you can drop by the restaurant most nights and find him stirring cocktails. He still puts in the 50 hours because that's when he gets his epiphanies. "I have had my greatest a-ha moments for cocktail creation while working behind the bar," he says. "It typically happens on a slow lunch or the end of a shift, but it's advantageous to have all the ingredients at your fingertips."

114 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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